UTS Library

57192 - Defamation, Drones and Ethics: Media Accountability: Finding cases

In this guide:

Finding cases

Traditionally, cases are found by using the citations. They generally look like this:

(2012) 248 CLR 42

[2012] ALMD 2714

[2012] HCA 16  

For a non-lawyer type person, this isn’t overly helpful and indeed confusing. We generally think of cases by their names. The above, for example, is Roadshow Films Pty Ltd v iiNet Ltd.

Fortunately, with what we’ll be using, this is completely fine. We’ll be using case citators that not only provide the full text of judgement but also legislations and cases considered in the case, case history (how has the case subsequently been used) and journal articles.


Free (don't need to be enrolled at UTS to use)

LawCite (Austlii)

LawCite is free (so something you’ll be able to use while working and not having access to a uni library subscriptions), but limited. It’s important to remember that there are different reported versions of case. For example, the above citations are all reports of the same case. If I were going to a trial and was citing the Roadshow Films v iiNet Limited case, it would only be valid if I used the Commonwealth Law Report version ((2012) 248 CLR 42), which you won’t be able to view through LawCite. So, would I go to court with the versions here? No, not really, but to get the decision so that I can understand it and get all I need from it. Besides, if I was to find myself going to court, I’d be seeking representation anyway and they’d have access to the fancy brands.

No topic search, so you need to at least have an idea of the case name or the parties involved. For example, in the search “Parties” section, type Roadshow and iiNet in the separate boxes and you’ll get all of these cases.

To get a full copy of the case itself, I will click on the [2012] HCA 16 link in green at the top of the page.

If you click on the link to the case in the Case Name column you will get a full list of cases referring to the case you are looking at (how it has been used in subsequent trials), articles relating to the case (that have been written after the decision of the case you are looking at), as well as the legislation, cases and articles cited in the case itself (what did it refer to during the proceedings).

All those listed are the case citations as they appear in different law reports. For example, the [2012] HCA 16 is what is called a medium neutral case citation. The HCA refers to the court (in this case, the High Court of Australia). Right next to that is the Commonwealth Law Report citation (2012) 248 CLR 42 (where the 248 refers to the volume number, and the 42 the starting page). As mentioned before, for our purposes, the medium neutral citation is sufficient.

For referencing Harvard UTS has a separate section for Legal Materials. The case would be cited as:

Roadshow Films Pty Ltd v iiNet Ltd [2012] ] HCA 16.


While you are at UTS

While enrolled at UTS you also have access to:

Lexis Advance Pacific

(This used to be Casebase, but LexisNexis changed their interface. it is now useful for search many things besides cases)

To search just for cases, go to the Advanced Search option at the top right hand of the Search box. Search using:

  • Catchwords-searches headnote (the top of the case) e.g. copyright
  • Terms (i.e. Search Terms)-whole of judgement e.g. defamation (if using a broad term, it may ask you to add more search words, e.g. defamation and media)
  • Case name-if known (search example: Wilson v Bauer Media Pty Ltd or News Ltd v Australian Rugby Football League Ltd (Super League case) or Roadshow Films v iiNet Limited )

FirstPoint (Westlaw AU)

Search using:

  • Catchwords (head notes)
  • FreeText (all of judgement) Again, this may yield too many results, so worth modifying with more search terms (e.g. defamation and media)
  • Can also search citation, but needs to actually be citation: E.g. [2012] HCA 16

Want more?

For more information searching for cases, the law librarians have put together and entire study guide that goes into much more detail.