The National Library holds law reports published in Australia from 1825. Historical sets of law reports are also held for many overseas countries. Overseas law reports are currently collected mainly from the Asia/Pacific region. International law is represented through the reports of international tribunals such as the International Court of Justice.
Court records include unpublished decisions, transcripts of proceedings (verbatim accounts of statements given during the course of proceedings), letters, lists of trials, depositions, circulars, bench books etc. They may cover the topics of wills (grants of probate or letters of administration), divorce, bankruptcy, civil and criminal cases, naturalisation, newspaper registrations, and conscientious objectors.
Summaries of court proceedings may be reported in daily newspapers. To locate newspaper reports of trials and cases, online full-text newspaper databases are available, as well as indexes, in the Newspaper/Microform Reading Room.
This guide contains selected print works only.
Catalogue Search Tips
Most individual law reports are not listed in the Library's catalogue. Reference to judgments and decisions that have been published in law reports is given in the form of a case citation. They are usually referred to by year (in brackets), volume number, title abbreviation and first page eg the Mabo decision of the High Court published in the Australian law reports is cited as (1992) 107 A.L.R. 1. To convert the law report abbreviation to a full title use the books listed under the section Legal Citations and Abbreviations below, then do a catalogue search on the title.
To search for collections of law reports, select the Browse subjects option. Examples of Browse subjects searches are:
- Law reports digests etc -- [Jurisdiction]
- Court records -- [Jurisdiction]
- Probate records -- [Jurisdiction].
To search for law reports on a particular subject, select the Browse subjects option. Examples of Browse subjects searches are:
- Administrative law -- [Jurisdiction] -- Cases
- Constitutional law -- [Jurisdiction] -- Cases
- Income tax -- Law and legislation -- [Jurisdiction] – Cases
Cases that do not fulfil the necessary criteria for publication in a law report belong to material known as unreported judgments. To find unreported judgments held by the National Library, search the catalogue under the name of the court, tribunal or commission as an Organisation, or Browse subjects such as:
NB Some unreported judgments are available on the web through court web pages. Others may be obtained from the registry of the court where the judgment was delivered.
To find court and tribunal transcripts use Advanced Search. Enter the name of the court or tribunal into the Find box eg. High Court; select Author from the drop-down list on the right; enter the truncated word 'transcript?' into the second Find box; select Title from the drop-down list on the right; then select the Search button below.
Selected Print Resources
These resources must be requested through the catalogue unless otherwise specified..
Legal Citations and Abbreviations
- Australian and New Zealand Legal Abbreviations. 1995. RF 349.940148 F674 (Main Reading Room Reference Collection)
- Australian Guide to Legal Citation. 2002. Includes Australian and overseas law report abbreviations. RF 340.072 A938-2 (Main Reading Room Reference Collection)
- Index to Legal Citations and Abbreviations. 1993. RF 348.00148 R159-2. (Main Reading Room Reference Collection)
- Australian Legal Words and Phrases. RF NL 349.94014 AUS (Latest issue held in Main Reading Room Reference Collection)
Selected Guides and Indexes
- The Australian Digest. 1825+ Includes a subject index and summaries of all published cases from 1825 onwards.
- Australian Legal Monthly Digest -- Cumulative Tables and Digest of Law. 1947+. Updates The Australian Digest. These publications have changed title over the years and each new title has its own record in the catalogue. See the Former Title section of the catalogue records. The latest issues are held in Reference.
- Australian Case Citator. Lists all published cases by name arranged by year from 1825 onwards.
- The Laws of Australia. Legal encyclopedia which includes references to many major cases.
- Halsbury's Laws of Australia. Legal encyclopedia which includes references to many major cases.
- Australian Current Law. Reporter. Updates Halsbury's Laws of Australia.
- The Canadian Abridgement: Case Digests. 1809-1986. A collection of case digests, or summaries, of issues decided by Canadian courts and administrative tribunals from the early 1800s onwards.
- Canadian Current Law. Case Law Digests. 1948-1995. Updates Canadian Abridgement. These publications have changed title over the years and each new title has its own record in the catalogue. See the Former Title section of the catalogue records. The latest issues are held in Reference.
- The English Reports. 1378-1867. Contents: Vols. 1-11 House of Lords (1694-1865); Vols. 12-20 Privy Council (including Indian Appeals) (1809-1865); Vols. 21-47 Chancery (including Collateral reports) (1557-1865); Vols. 48-55 Rolls Court (1829-1865); Vols. 56-71 Vice Chancellors' Courts (1815-1865); Vols. 72-122 King's Bench (1378-1865); Vols. 123-144 Common Pleas (1486-1865); Vols. 145-160 Exchequer (1200-1865); Vols. 161-167 Ecclesiastical (1752-1857), Admiralty 1776-1840), and Probate and Divorce (1858-1865); Vols. 168-169 Crown cases (1743-1865); Vols. 170-176 Nisi Prius (1688-1867). Includes index of cases in two volumes.
- All England Law Reports Reprint. 1558-1935. Volumes for 1558-1834 selected from early authorised reports; volumes for 1835-1935 selected from the Law Times Reports.
- All England Law Reports Annotated. 1936-1946. Updates All England Law Reports Reprint.
- All England Law Reports. 1947-1995. Cases decided in the House of Lords, The Privy Council, all divisions of the Supreme Court and Courts of Special Jurisdiction.
- The English and Empire Digest. 1200-1981. Aims to provide the whole case law of England and a considerable body of cases from the courts of other countries of the British Commonwealth.
- The Digest: Annotated British, Commonwealth and European Cases. 1982-1995. Updates The English and Empire Digest.
- Abridgement of New Zealand Case Law. 1861+. The digest covers decisions of the High Court, Court of Appeal and the Privy Council reported since 1861.
- LexisNexis Butterworths Current Law. 1974+. Updates Abridgement of New Zealand Case Law. This publication has changed title over the years and each new title has its own record in the catalogue. See the Former Title section of the catalogue record.
- The New Zealand Law Reports. 1883+. Cases from various courts from 1883 onwards.
- Decennial Digest, American Digest System. 1658-1986. This publication has changed title over the years and each new title has its own record in the catalogue. See the Former Title section of the catalogue record.