Sunday, July 17, 2016

Quick legal research tip – Lawcite is a free Australian case citator

Just in case anyone else has tuned out of work-week-mode and is busy looking busy on a Friday afternoon, here’s a quick legal research tip that is at leastsomewhat work related…

Try out Lawcite (available on the AustLII website) next time you need to check the judicial treatment of a case. Lawcite is a completely automatically-generated case citator, so it includes all referrences to a case in subsequent cases (even if they’re only brief mentions). The lists of “cases referring to this case” can be rather long for those cases that have attracted a lot of judical discussion, but are great when you need to know you’ve reviewed every reference to a case.

In addition to comprehensive coverage of Australian jurisdictions, Lawcite includes “cases cited” and “cases referring to this case” from other jurisdictions covered by LII sites (UK, NZ, South Africa etc) and will link through to the full text of the unreported version of a case if it is available on either AustLII or one of the LII sites.

One down side to the automated process of compiling this database is that there are no catchwords or headnotes to search across, nor are the cases categorised into particular subject areas (unlike its subscription-based counterparts like CaseBase and FirstPoint). Like any case citator, Lawcite is great for locating cases, not for conducting in-depth research on a concept, phrase or topic. Which reminds me…

Remember, like all case citators, you are not searching across the full text of a case when running a search here – just the text contained in those citator (or summary) documents (party names, dates, judges, court, citations, cases referring to the case and cases it refers to etc). This applies to CaseBase and FirstPoint too – see my earlier article on case citators v full text databases if this is news to you! It’s a common mistake…

Feel free to post a comment or question if you have one!

Happy Friday!


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