Module 2 - Finding Australian cases
Case law is also known as common law or judge made law. A case is a legal matter decided by a court. The judgment is the statement of the judge or judges who have decided the case. The judgment gives the reasons for the decision, examining all the legal issues raised in the case.
In common law systems, legal principles or decisions, established in earlier cases are carried through in later cases by the doctrine of precedent. However, courts must follow decisions of higher courts in the same hierarchy, which may overturn a decision of the lower court. For example, the Supreme Court of New South Wales is bound by a decision of the High Court of Australia.
Some judgments are published in law report series. Only those cases which further develop the law or explain a legal issue with particular clarity will be included in the law reports. These cases come mainly from the High Court, the various state Supreme Courts, and some tribunals such as the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.