Bachelor of Laws: Case Law

A comprehensive guide to legal research created by the VU Law Library

Case law is made up of the decisions of a court consisting of a single judge or a number of judges.  Significant cases may be published in a law report series and are known as reported judgments. Most law report series are available online and in hard-copy. Those judgments which do not get reported (published) are known as unreported judgments.

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Law Student Essentials - Finding Cases

Access and review the PowerPoint slides used for the Law Library workshop Finding Case Law.


Abbreviations are used to identify the law report series in which a judgment has been published.  In the case of unreported judgments an abbreviation for the court is used.
Some useful tools for looking up abbreviations are:

Alternative or Parallel Citations

Often an important case may be reported (published) in more than one series of law reports. For example:

Vairy v Wyong Shire Council (2005) 223 CLR 422 , 80 ALJR 1 , 142 LGERA 387 , 221 ALR 711, [2005] Aust Torts Reports 81-810, [2005] HCA 62, [2006] ALMD 1241, [2006] ALMD 1449, [2006] ALMD 1445, [2006] ALMD 1446


The judgment has been reported in many law reports. Where available, use the authorised reports series; these are officially approved versions.

Authorised Reports

Where available, use the authorised reports series; these are officially approved versions.

For more information read AGLC4 Rule 2.2 Law Report Series.

High Court of Australia
Law Report: Commonwealth Law Reports
Abbreviation: CLR

Federal Court of Australia
Law Report: Federal Court Reports
Abbreviation: FCR

Supreme Court of New South Wales
Law Report: New South Wales Law Reports
Abbreviation: NSWLR

Supreme Court of the Northern Territory
Law Report: Northern Territory Law Reports
Abbreviation: NTLR

Supreme Court of Queensland
Law Report: Queensland Law Reports
Abbreviation: Qd R

Supreme Court of South Australia
Law Report: South Australian State Reports
Abbreviation: SASR

Supreme Court of Tasmania
Law Report: Tasmanian Reports
Abbreviation: Tas R

Supreme Court of Victoria
Law Report: Victorian Reports
Abbreviation: VR

Supreme Court of Western Australia
Law Report: Western Australian Reports
Abbreviation: WAR

England and Wales
Law Report: The Law Reports - published by the Incorporated Council of Law Reporting for England and Wales (ICLR)
Abbreviation: AC, Ch, KB, QB etc.

Unreported Judgments

An unreported judgment is a judgment that has not been published (reported) in a law report.  All judgments are unreported to begin with as it takes time for them to be published.  While some judgments will be published in many different law reports, most will never be published and will remain unreported.