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United Kingdom Law Reports: About Law Reports

What is a Law Report?

It is the written report of a case heard in the courts.

  1. only cases from the higher courts are published,
  2. and of these, only those which are considered to contain points of legal interest

Tips for searching UK Law Reports

From Find@HKUL, select Subject Search, enter the search terms:

  • Law reports, digests, etc. -- Great Britain
  • Law reports, digests, etc. -- Ireland
  • Law reports, digests, etc. -- Scotland

Why are cases so important?

House of Parliament

In common law countries the law is developed and expounded by the judges in the Courts. It can only be changed by legislation passed by Parliament, but even this must be interpreted and applied by the Courts. The higher tine Court, the more authority its decisions have, up to the House of Lords whose decisions bind all lower courts.

As a general rule each Court must follow the decisions of every court above it - this is the doctrine of judicial precedence. For this reason, lawyers and judges look to the case law to decide which decision to follow. This is often not easy to establish, and many cases may be referred to before a decision is reached.

The 3 most commonly cited law reports

The following three sets contain reports of cases regardless of their subject content.

  The Law Reports  
Call Number: PR KF55
Published by the Incorporated Council for Law Reporting since 1865, is the semi-official law reports series, and is the largest and most authoritative set. Its arrangement has always reflected the court structure of the day, originally with 11 separate series containing reports from different courts. Today it is divided into four series one for each of the four major divisions of the higher courts as below.  Issues appear monthly.




Law Reports. Appeal Case - [AC]
Print: 1875-1890
Electronic: Westlaw Asia 1875-1890 
Call Number: PR KF55 A73

Law Reports. Family Division - [Fam]
Print: 1972-
Electronic: Westlaw Asia 1972-
Call Number: PR KF55 C94
ISBN/ISSN: 0264-1119

Law Reports. Chancery Division - [Ch.]
Print: 1875-1890
Electronic: Westlaw Asia 1875-1890
Call Number: PR KF55 C32

Law Reports. Queen's Bench Division - [QBD.]
Print: 1875-1890
Call Number: PR KF55 C86

Also available in electronic format by title search under Find@HKUL via Westlaw Asia 

  • Cases Tab > United Kingdom Case Law > Law Reports and Transcripts


Weekly Law Reports - [W.L.R.]
Print: 1953-
Electronic: Westlaw Asia 1953-
Call Number: PR KF55 W2
ISBN/ISSN: 0019-3518

Also published by the Incorporated Council, contains many cases which later appear in The Law Reports.  Issues appear weekly, which makes it a useful source of more recent cases.

Also available in electronic format by title search under Find@HKUL via Westlaw Asia      

  • Cases Tab > United Kingdom Case Law > law Reports and Transcripts


   All England Law Reports - [AER, All ER]   
   Print: 1936-
   Electronic: Lexis Advance Hong Kong 1936-
   Call Number: PR KF60 A5
   ISBN/ISSN: 0002-5569
   Produced by a commercial publisher, is highly

Other sets of
Law Reports

These other sets will select cases relevant to a specialised area of law. Examples of this type are: