Graduate/Summer Clerk
Legal Research Skills
Jean McKay
November 2011
Outline - Finding Legislation
 Official sources of online legislation
 State Law Publisher
 Navigate the SLP website to find Acts (including historical versions)
 Commencement information
 Set up alerts
 Comlaw
 Overview of Comlaw’s interface
 Set up My Comlaw (save searches & alerts)
 Lawlex
 Track bills
 Locate acts, track changes to legislation
 Link to EMS, 2nd reading speeches
 Extrinsic materials – more ways to locate EMs & 2nd readings
 Bills Digest – locate background information on Cth bills
Outline: Case Law Refresher
 The Basics
 Reported/Unreported/Authorised/Citation/Medium neutral
 Finding & Noting Up Cases
 CaseBase on LexisNexisAU
 Firstpoint on Legal Online (intro to WestlawAU)
 LawCite on AustLII
 Legislation Judicially Considered
 AustLII Advanced Search
 Search SAT Decisions and more
Outline: Secondary Sources
 AustLII Advanced Search – secondary sources
 Using Commentaries
 Legal Dictionaries + Legal Encyclopaedias
 Australian Encyclopaedia of Forms & Precedents AEFP
 Keeping Up to date
 Set up Alerts
 BarNet Jade Digest
Law Subject Guide
Official Sources
 State Law Publisher
 ComLaw
Other sources [BUT must check currency on SLP or Comlaw]
 AustLII
 LawNow on LexisNexisAU
 LawLex
 Commentaries – LexisNexisAU, CCH Intelliconnect, Thomson
WA Acts
Numbered Acts for the Year
Principal & Amending Acts
Reprinted Acts
Reprints consolidate principal act
Subsequent amendments.
Note the official version of an act for presentation in
court in WA is the current reprint + amendments
Consolidated Acts
Consolidations are online compilations incorporating
all amendments to the current time
Legislation for Court?
Western Australia – most recent Reprint
(print copy) + printed copies of all subsequent
Amendments listed in the Notes.
Commonwealth – authoritative
online version in PDF can now be used
in legal proceedings.
The authoritative tick logo (2 versions)
must appear on every page .
‘Acts in Force’ for current consolidation
Versions provide point in time
WA subsidiary legislation (Regulations)
online here. Print versions published in
the WA Government Gazette
For current
open pdf
Assent and Commencement
•Check the Notes table in each
consolidated act for Assent and
Commencement information
•Acts usually come into force on either
Royal Assent, Proclamation, or on a
specific date.
•Proclamations are made in the
Government Gazette for the State or
•Commencement information is
usually specified in Section 2 of the Act
•Individual provisions may come
become operational at a date other than
the rest of the act. Check section 2 of
the Act for details.
Search in ‘Acts as Passed’ to find amendments.
Amendments are not listed in ‘Acts in Force’.
eg to locate Criminal Law Amendment (Homicide )
Act 2008
Keep Up to Date with State Legislative
Email Information Notification Service
Alerts for individual Acts
or Regulations
Browse to the homepage for
the legislation title you
require and then click on
the Notify link at the
bottom-right of the page
Lawlex – Step 1 Search Legislation
Lawlex Step 2: Select Jurisdiction ‘Com’ and
Enter legislation Title: National Consumer Protection Act
Step 3: Click on Act
Core Document Homepage
Link to official version of Act on Comlaw
+links to EM, 2nd reading and more
Commencement Information;
History of Amendments
Regulations under this Act;
Amendments since last Consolidation
Bill...and more
AustLII has Commonwealth & States
Legislation on LexisNexisAU
•Legislation on LexisNexisAU
•Fulltext of bills, statutes ,
subordinate legislation.
•Links to CaseBase and Halsbury’s
Laws of Australia
•BUT coverage only includes
recent years.
Extrinsic Aids for Interpretation of
To understand background to legislation or its intention you
should consult following:
 Bills
 Explanatory Memoranda – explain bill in detail (not all bills
have accompanying EM – more common in Cwth)
 Hansard (Parliamentary Debates) particularly 2nd reading
 Parliamentary Papers and Committee Reports
Parliament of WA
Commonwealth Parliament
See Handout: How to Find Extrinsic Aids to Help Interpret Legislation
2nd reading speech
Bills & EM
Lawlex links to EM and Second reading speech
Locating Bills, EM & 2nd Reading
Speeches in Print
Arranged by parliamentary session & then alphabetically
Explanatory Memoranda (EM)
Filed before relevant bill (not all bills have EMs, especially in WA)
2nd Reading Speeches in Hansard
Step 1) Consult Hansard subject index for the year bill passed
(sometimes the previous year) – WA listed under short title of act;
Commonwealth under ‘Bills’
Step 2) Note page numbers for 2nd reading speeches (also any other
committee reports)
Bills Digest
Case Law Refresher
Unreported? Reported? Authorised?
Unreported Judgments
 All decisions appear first as unreported judgments
 Majority of decisions go unreported’
Reported Judgments
Appear in published series of law reports
Examples ALR, ALJR,FLR, ATPR, ABC, Fam LR and many more series
Authorised Reports
Most produced by Council of Law Reporting in each state and territory
Examples CLR, FCR, NSWLR, VR, Qd R, SASR, WAR, Tas R and NTLR
Unreported Judgments
 Majority of decisions go unreported
 ‘Unreported and not reportable’
 ‘Reportable but unreported’
 Sources of unreported judgments in Australia
 Federal, state and territory – on the web
 AustLII – High Court, Federal Court, many state and territory courts
 LexisNexisAu – High Court, Federal Court, Supreme courts (1987+)
 Legal Online
Reported Judgements
Reported judgments appear in published series of law reports.
What are the criteria for reportability?
 introduce a new principle or rule of law
 significantly modify an existing principle of law
Reported judgements form 10% of total judgments in NSW
AGLC3 Rule 2.3.1 A reported version of a case should be cited in preference to an
unreported version
Authorised Reports
 Authorised reports provide the preferred or authoritative
source of case law. Approved by a judge or associate.
 Commonwealth Law Reports (CLR) – authorised series for the
High Court available on Thomson’s Legal Online.
 Federal Court Reports (FCR) – authorised series for the
Federal Court
 Each state and territory has an authorised series of reports New South Wales Reports (NSWLR), Victorian Reports (VR),
Queensland Reports (Qd.R), South Australian Reports (SASR),
West Australian Reports (WAR), Tasmanian Reports (Tas R),
and the Northern Territory Law Reports (NTLR)
AGLC3 Appendix: Law
Report Abbreviations
* Asterisk next to a title
indicates authorised
report series
Citation for a reported decision
Parties names
Parties names, ‘v’ spoken as ‘and’.
Where ‘R’ appears it stands for the
‘Queen’ or sometimes said ‘Regina’
CLR is standard abbreviation for
Commonwealth Law Reports
Mabo v Queensland (1992) 175 CLR 1
Date of decision in round brackets. This series
of reports has volume number175 (note print
volumes would be arranged by volume number)
Series without volume numbers have dates in
square brackets (print volumes arranged by year)
eg Howarth v Adey [1996] 2 VR 535
Page number where this case
‘Pin point’ refers to the
specific page or paragraph
being referred to
eg 175 CLR 1, 22
Lange v Australian Broadcasting Corporation (1997) 189 CLR 520
AustLII link to HCA however must cite CLR
Cardiff Guide to Legal Abbreviations
Casebase Abbreviations
Australian Legal Journals Index Abbreviations
Medium Neutral Citation for Citing
Unreported Judgments
Medium neutral citation has:
 Abbreviation for the court and not a named law report series
 Court assigned case numbers rather than a volume and page
 Paragraph numbers rather than page numbers
2.8.1 Preferred unique court identifiers
See also list of court
identifiers in Law
Library’s guide:
Unreported Judgments
Medium Neutral Citation
Supreme Court of WA
Consolidated Practice Directions (22 Jan 2009)
Submissions and Authorities 14 & 15 provide direction for the
citation of reported and unreported cases.
14. Reported cases must be cited by reference to the relevant
authorised report. Where possible the medium-neutral citation
should appear the first time a case is referred to with the
subsequent references having only the case name although it is
recognised that where there are a number of cases with the same
or similar names, or alternatively popular names, it may be
necessary to cite the reference.
15. Unreported cases must be cited by medium-neutral citation if
there is one.
Incomplete citations? Locate cases on a topic?
Noteup cases?
 Essential first step
 Casebase on LexisNexisAU
 Firstpoint on Legal Online
 Lawcite on AustLII
Finding cases on subjects...
Also Use:
 Commentaries on LexisNexisAU; CCH; Legal Online
 Journal articles
 Textbooks; Legal Encyclopaedias and other secondary
CaseBase on LexisNexisAU
Same search on Google?
Replaces Legal Online after March 2012
Links to FirstPoint;
Judgment text (note WAR now online);
Australian Digest classifications
Legislation Judicially Considered
 CaseBase
 Migration Act ss 229-231
Legislation Judicially Considered migration act w/p 229 or 230 or 231
 FirstPoint
 Environmental Protection Act s47
Legislation Judicially Considered environmental protection act 47
 AustLII Legislation
Find relevant section of act and select [Noteup]
 AustLII LawCite
Legislation Considered evidence act Section 106k
More Ways to Find Legislation Judicially
 Commentaries
 LexisNexis - Australian Current Law Reporter
 Journal articles
 See separate handout Finding Legislation Judicially Considered
How to Find a UK Case on Westlaw
R v Brown [1993] all er 75
Open PDF
Commentaries were previously called ‘loose leaf services’ and are sometimes still
referred to by this name eg in AGLC 3
Commentaries on LexisNexisAU Browse
Commentaries on CCH IntelliConnect
Key CCH IntelliConnect Commentaries include:
Torts & Personal Injury Law and Trade practices,
Consumer and Contract Law libraries
Lawyers Practice Manual WA
Legal Dictionaries
 Encyclopaedic Australian Legal
 Australian Legal Words & Phrases
Legal Encyclopaedias
Halsbury’s Laws of Australia
The Laws of Australia
Forms & Precedents
 LexisNexisAU Forms tab
Select ‘Browse’ for extensive list of resources with forms - Civil
Procedure WA, Criminal Law WA, Wills and Probate
Administration WA, Native Title and many more. Also the major
 Australian Encyclopaedia of Forms & Precedents (AEFP)
 AEFP has over 4,000 precedents & forms for non-litigious matters
covering over 90 areas of law.
 Word documents – most precents in AEFP can be downloaded as
Word Documents and easily adapted for client’s specific matters.
Keep Up to Date
What next?
 Work through HELP guides on
 Lawlex
 LexisNexisAU ( especially CaseBase)
 WestlawAU (especially note Firstpoint)
 CCH Intelliconnect
 AustLII (especially LawCite)
 Familiarise yourself with SLP, ComLaw functionality
 Register for SLP Alerts; My Comlaw
 Commentaries – look at the titles on each service
 Register on BarNet JADE and the Lawyers Weekly
Further Help? Email [email protected] .au
(even after you graduate we are happy to provide legal research support)
Consult the Law LibGuide – especially Legal
Research Refresher WA (ppt available here)
Very BestWishes from Craven Law Library Staff - Jean, Robyn, Mary-Ann & Jan

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