Locating a case

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At the end of a legal dispute that has been heard in court, the judiciary, or judges, will make decisions and give judgments. Within the judgments you will find the ratio decidendi. Judgments may contain more than one ratio.

There are likely to be a few lines in any books or materials you encounter telling you about the case. You may be tempted to rely on that short summary but you must remember that there is no substitute for reading the case itself. There are a number of places you can access law reports. There are many commercially published series of law reports. The commercially published series that you are most likely to encounter is the All England Law Reports (All ER).  You should also be aware that there are a number of legal databases in which you may find the full text of law reports, each produced by a different organisation. These databases often require you pay a subscription;  however, there are some free online resources and databases.  

The case citations facilitate access by those wishing to find the case.

[1972] 3 WLR 954

Here, the citation tells you that the case is at page 954 of the 1972 volume of the Weekly Law Reports.

Citation Example

Activity : Locate at least 1 Case

Scroll down the page and follow the step-by-step instructions below on how to locate a specific case.

Step 1: Open a new browser/tab and go to http://www.bailii.org/

Step 2: Click on the Case Law Link

Step 3: Next to ‘case name’. Insert: ‘JE (Jamaica) v The Secretary Of State For The Home Department’. Hit Search.

Step 4: Click on Link ‘JE (Jamaica) v The Secretary Of State For The Home Department’.

Write down the citation for the case and now try the same activity using the citation to find the judgment.