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Sources of Law - Case Law: United Kingdom Case Law

Introduction

This page aims to offer a guide on where you can locate sources of United Kingdom cases with various categories of resources, including:

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.

Search in FIND@HKUL

Please be reminded that cases or judgments are not indexed in FIND@HKUL. To look for full text cases, you will have to search in relevant legal databases, or search by the full title of a law report in FIND@HKUL with "Books+" search scope.

 

Alternatively, you may change to Advance Search and enter the following search term for all available law reports within the HKUL Collection:

Database Training

At the beginning of first semester of each academic year, the Law Library will invite specialist trainers from LexisNexis and Thomson Reuters to conduct trainings for all law students to re-visit and familiarize the resources available from Lexis Advance Hong Kong and Westlaw Asia, and how to use them. Reserve a seat to master the skills in using these databases!

Help

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 lawlib@hku.hk

 Make appointment with our Law Librarian via Research Consultation Services (eligible for HKU academic staff and postgraduate students only)

HKU Libraries' Resources

Lexis Advance Hong Kong

Under the HKU Libraries subscription, UK’s case law is available via this platform. Fundamental law reports, such as those published by ICLR, can be found here. 

To look up for law reports, follow the below steps after entering the platform:

  • Access Path: Browse > Publications > United Kingdom > By Content Type > UK Cases

            

 

Westlaw Asia

Rich amount of law reports with wide range of coverage is available under the HKU Libraries subscription. Other than catchwords and additional information regarding the case, abbreviations of each law report are shown at the main page for a handy identification.

To browse different law reports, follow the below steps after entering the platform:

  • Access Path: Content Type > Cases > United Kingdom Case Law > Law Reports and Transcripts 

            

            

 

i-law.com

i-law.com offers fruitful resources on various areas of law, with maritime and commercial law in particular. A total of 14 law report titles can be found on this platform, for instance, the Lloyd’s Law Report. To browse these law reports, follow the steps below:

  • Access Path: Left navigation menu > Publications > Law Reports

           

To view full-text of content, please refer to the login reminder stated in the FIND@HKUL record.

 

PrimeLaw

Offered by Wolter Kluwer, PrimeLaw offers comprehensive collection of cases in different categories. This platform is also recognized with extensive inclusion of company law cases. To browse these cases, follow the steps below:

  • Access Path: Top Bar Menu > UK Cases

The Law Reports  

Published by the Incorporated Council for Law Reporting (ICLR) since 1865, the Law Reports has been 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 eleven separate series containing reports from different courts. It is now divided into four series, representing four major divisions of the High Courts:

 

*Series previously divided based on court division of the day (e.g. Probate Division, Equity Cases), or of previous years, can be located with call number range PR KF55, or search directly in Lexis Advance Hong Kong/ Westlaw Asia (search steps please refer to Key Databases tab).

Weekly Law Reports [WLR]

Also published by ICLR, the Weekly Law Reports contains many cases which later appear in The Law Reports.  Since the issues appear weekly, this makes it a useful source in locating more recent cases.

 

All England Law Reports [All ER]

Published by LexixNexis Butterworths, the All England Law Reports is another highly recognized and reputable publication. 

Other than its main volume, series on specific area of law are also divided. For instance, the All England Law Reports (Commercial Cases) [All ER. (Comm)]. You may either locate these materials with call number range PR KF60, or search directly in Lexis Advance Hong Kong (search steps please refer to Key Databases tab)

 

These other sets of law reports will select cases relevant to a specialized area of law. Below are some examples:

Lloyd’s Law Reports [Lloyd’s Rep]

This title is a reputable publication focusing on maritime and commercial law.

Similar to other law report series, sub-divisions on specific subjects are available for Lloyd’s Law Reports. They includes Banking [Lloyd’s Rep. Bank], Medical [Lloyd’s Rep. Med.] and etc. You may locate these materials by searching directly in I-law.com (search steps please refer to Key Databases tab)

 

Banking Law Reports [Bank LR]

Published by Business & Medical Publications Ltd., this title is continued by Lloyd's Law Reports: banking.

 

The Criminal Appeal Reports [CAppR] 

This title is published by Court of Appeal, Great Britain.

 

Industrial Court Reports [ICR]

From 1972 to 1974 the series was titled: Industrial court reports. From 1975 onwards, the series was entitled: Industrial cases reports [ICLR].

 

Simon's Tax Cases [STC]

Because of the doctrine of precedent, older cases are still relevant and significant in English law today. Other than looking into older divisions of the Law Reports, below are some alternative resources that is useful on locating old English cases:

English Reports [ER]

This historical material consists of reprints of the decisions of the English Courts prior to 1866. The English reports reproduce over 74 reports series covering court decisions from 1220 to 1865.

 

All England Law Reports (Reprint) [All ER Rep]

Reproducing a selection of cases from 1558 to 1935, this title is being continued by the All England Law Reports.

 

The Revised Law Reports [Rev LR]

Cases which do not appear in the English Reports may appear in The Revised Reports, coverage 1785/90-1865-66.

Official Sources

Courts and Tribunals Judiciary (click to visit)

Wide range of information and materials is available from this source, including detailed explanation on the justice system in the UK. Judgments are updated on a daily basis, containing selected cases from County Court, Court of Appeal, Court of Protection, Crown Court, Family Court, High Court, Magistrates, Military Court and Tribunals starting from 30 Nov 2007. Search can be done by entering keywords, or adding more filters like court, jurisdiction concerned, area of law and the time period for narrowing the search results.

The Supreme Court (click to visit)

Replaced the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords to be the UK’s highest court in October 2009, the Supreme Court maintains as the final court of appeal among English and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Abbreviated form of the court is noted as UKSC.
Judgments coverage: 30 July 2009 to the present.

House of Lords Judgments Archive (click to visit)

To find judgments prior to 30 July 2009, as stated under the Supreme Court, you may visit the House of Lords Judgments Archive for more information. The abbreviated form of the court is noted as UKHL.
Judgments coverage: 14 November 1996 – 30 July 2009.

UK Parliamentary Archive (click to visit)

To search for judgments prior to 1996, you may visit the UK Parliamentary Archive for more details. However, electronic version of documents are not available via this website and access to physical copies has to be consulted in the Parliamentary Archives search room in London. Alternatively, BAILII would be a useful tool in searching for older cases.

Open Access Resources

British and Irish Legal Information Institute (BAILII) (click to visit)

Supporting the free access of legal information, BAILII offers an extensive collection of materials. In particular, selected House of Lords judgments starting from 1709. You may either conduct the search by entering of the case citation or party name, or use the advance search which keywords can be used to formulate the search.

 

Law Reports and the Doctrine of Precedent (Faculty of Law, University of Oxford) (click to visit)

This page explains the UK law reports and its structure in a detailed manner. You will obtain beneficial information to enrich your understanding on UK law reports from this recognized source.