Skip to Main Content

Australian Case Law

A guide on where to find authorised reported and unreported judgments in Australian jurisdictions.


This guide provides an introduction to case law research with links to case law resources across different jurisdictions. Navigate to the Tips for Finding Cases for information on case citations and legal abbreviations. To research cases by legislation, secondary materials or topic, select the Case Law Research tab on the left. 

What is Case Law

Case law is law developed by judges in courts. Case law research involves reading legal judgments - understanding the reasons behind a judgment and how the law has been interpreted by the judge. Case law interprets and enforces the laws created by parliament.

Why is Case Law Important?

In common law jurisdictions such as Australia, there are two primary sources of the law: case law and legislation. Case law is equally important in interpreting the law.

Case law are laws made by judges through their decisions in court cases. The court system is hierarchical, therefore judges in lower courts must follow decisions of higher courts. This is known as the doctrine of precedent. It is a key marker of the common law system. Jurisdiction is important in legal research. In the context of case law research, jurisdiction refers to the court which heard the matter. 

In legal research, it is essential to rely on the primary sources of law, including case law. This guide outlines where to go to locate case law.

Further Resources


Watch the Australian Case Law videos for an overview of case citators, authorised reports and advanced search forms. 

These videos are part of the Legal Research Video Series developed by the law library to help students with their legal research (log in required).

The best way to locate key cases on your topic is to start with secondary sources such as books, journal articles and commentary. For more information on using secondary sources for legal research, read our Secondary Resources for Legal Research Guide.  
Alternatively, check the Research Databases by Type for the best legal databases to use.