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Case Law

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The case law databases contain the decisions of judges in matters before a court or tribunal. In each decision the judge will go over the facts of the case, the relevant law in the circumstances, and then discuss how the law applies to the relevant facts. The judge may also refer to relevant legislation (laws or "acts" passed by parliament), regulations or international treaties. Because of this case law is often important in understanding how particular acts of parliament operate and apply day to day.

The AustLII case law databases include hypertext links to most relevant material. These generally include the following:

These links are inserted automatically by our hypertext markup software, which uses complex heuristics to determine exactly which documents a citation might refer to. In most cases the links are correct, however sometimes errors are made, due to the nature of English writing, and legal writing in particular. You should also bear in mind that links to acts go to the current version of that act, not necessarily the version of the act that existed at the time that the judgement was written.

Using Cases

Each case is preceeded by a number of "buttons" or links. The meaning of these is as follows:

Dates in Legislation

When searching in Boolean Mode you can use the date operator to limit search results by date (or a date range -- see Search Help, esp Boolean Operators Chart).

For cases, the date is usually the date that the decision was handed down or added to the AustLII database if such a date is not available.

Printing Cases

To print a case you can either use the "Print" function of your browser, or click "Download" to get the RTF version of the case, load it into your word processor, and print from there.

About the Markup

Cases are "marked up" on a massively automated basis. We are constantly improving this process to add functionality. If you have suggestions, these are more than welcome. Please bear in mind that the mark up process is essentially heuristic in nature - that is, it is designed to make the occassional mistake. If you think that you can suggest a general approach to better taking into account the salient features which are inherent to most case law databases, please send us feedback.

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