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Commerce: Terminology

Primary sources - Case law: common questions answered

Reading a case

Headnotes: contains details of

  • Case title - plaintiff and defendant
  • Court in which the case was heard 
  • Court citation - the citation applied by the court for the case
  • Dates of the case including the dates of the hearing and the decision
  • Catchwords - aspects of the law that apply to the case: in other databases we would call these keywords. Catchwords are always in italics.
  • Case details and the judgement. Where multiple judges have heard the case, then each judge's decision is listed separately.

Footnotes

  • All cases that the judges used in making their decision

Primary sources - Legislation

Legislation:

  • Law made by governments
  • By jurisdiction - that is State, Territory and Commonwealth

Can be 

  • Acts as passed - the original version of the act; by governments
  • Consolidated Acts - the currently in force version of the act - including all amendments including the most recent.
  • Repealed Acts - Acts no longer in force

Can have

  • Subordinate legislation or regulations

Secondary sources

Secondary sources in law are commentary and journal articles about cases, legislation, and various legal topics. Legal dictionaries and legal encyclopedias are also secondary sources.

Case citators and digests are also considered secondary sources as they are summaries of cases, not the case itself.

Finding secondary sources can lead to finding relevant cases and legislation on a particular legal topic or point of law.

Case Citators

Provide:

  • A summary of the case
  • A list of cases cited by the judges in making their judgement (older cases). Cited cases can be applied, considered or distinguished.
  • A list of legislation cited by the judges in making their judgement.
  • A list of cases that have cited the case in forming the judgement (future cases). The case may be applied, considered or distinguished.
  • The litigation history of the case if heard in a higher court.
  • Any journal articles and commentary relating to the case.

JCU has two case citators in subscribed legal databases.

  • CaseBase found in Lexis Advance Pacific
  • FirstPoint found in Westlaw AU

More terminology

Report series: refers to the many different report titles that cases are reported in. In library terms they are also called periodicals  or serials.

 

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