Searching for a case by topic

There are a number of tools which will assist you in finding cases from the mass of law reports. One very useful source is a case citator, which is a kind of case law index.

To use a citator, first determine keywords that will describe your topic.

Casebase and Firstpoint are Australian case citators. Either can be used to locate Australian cases relevant to your topic by searching selected keywords.

Not all cases are reported. Unreported judgments are decisions of courts that have not been published. There are two main reasons why a decision is not published.

  1. The case is too recent to have been published.
  2. The case is not considered of sufficient importance to be published.

This case has been reported in two law report series:
FLR = Federal Law Reports
Aust Contract R = Australian Contract Reports.

Not all cases will be listed in a case citator (Firstpoint or CaseBase) or even in a printed law report series. These cases may be available online in full text, for example, at the website of the court where the case was heard.

Activity - Searching for a case by topic  Activity - It is important to understand legal citations. Test your knowledge!
  Try your skills at identifying one legal citation for the following case:
Mabo v Queensland (No 2) (1992) 175 CLR 1; (1992) 107 ALR 1; (1992) 66 ALJR 408; (1992) EOC 92-443; BC9202681
(1992) 175 CLR 1; (1992) 107 ALR 1; (1992) 66 ALJR 408; (1992) EOC 92-443
(1992) 175 CLR 1
  Which of the following citation is called a "Medium Neutral Citation"?
  [2009] NSWCA 234
(2004) 22 ACLC 1390

View a demonstration on Introduction to cases in CaseBase