Finding materials

You would have realised by now that you need relevant and authoritative information to better understand your assigned case and to make compelling arguments about its impact. How do you go about finding such information?

As a start, look for the case in a case citator such as CaseBase (Lexis) or FirstPoint (Westlaw). There are also two freely available case citators, LawCite (AustLII) and Jade (BarNet). See if you can find Getachew v The Queen [2011] VSCA 164.

The first thing you should check when you find the case in the case citator is the citation. Has the case been reported or is it still unreported (with a medium neutral, or court, citation)? If it has been reported, which report series should you choose? Make sure you use the authorised citation if there is one, eg VR (Victorian Reports) or CLR (Commonwealth Law Reports).

Activity

Case citators also provide annotations that tell you whether your case is still considered good law. These annotations indicate whether judges in other cases have Followed, Applied, Distinguished, etc the reasoning for the legal principle you are researching.

Note that you should always read the full text of the case to make up your own mind on whether a case is still good law. You will need to locate the full text of the case, however this may not always be provided as a link in the case citator. In this situation, you will need to check the legal abbreviation in the Monash Legal Abbreviations guide. For example, VSCA stands for Victorian Supreme Court of Appeal. You can then search for the full text case using the Monash Online cases page.

What else can you use in your research?

Case citators will list:

  • litigation history
  • any legislative provisions considered in the case
  • related cases considered by the judges ("cases considered")
  • subsequent cases that have considered your case ("cases considering").
  • secondary sources, such as case notes and journal articles written about the case.

How do I research a case?

To analyse a case you will need secondary sources (eg journal articles) to expand your thinking about the impact of the case. As well as any journal articles listed in the case citators, databases such as AGIS Plus Text, HeinOnline, Lexis, and Westlaw can be very useful for this purpose.


What if you use these resources and find nothing on your case?

You may not always find something that specifically discusses your case. In this situation, generally, the marker will want you to analyse the case in depth, and then connect the legal principles or rules in the case to broader legal or social impacts. You could try using some of the case’s catchwords (legal principles considered in the case) to search for journal articles on these issues. Consider other sources of information such as law firm newsletters and blogs; however, remember to evaluate them for relevance and credibility.

Conducting research can be a confusing process - unless you have effective research strategies. Complete the following activities to learn how to apply research and reading strategies to your work.

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