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Women and Law: Law reports & cases

Subjects: Law

Free online sources for case law

UK cases quick start

The UK is a common law country and as such judgments and case law are particularly important as the doctrine of precedent applies.  This means that the judgment of each case can bind all subsequent cases depending on the seniority of the court (the court system has a hierarchical structure.). As such case law becomes part of the law by either setting legal precedents where there is no legislation or interpreting legislation.

In England and Wales the lowest courts are the magistrates and county and crown courts.  Following on from this there is the High Court (which has many divisions depending on the subject) and then the Court of Appeal (both Civil and Criminal) followed by the highest court in the country the Supreme Court (formally the House of Lords) (pictured above).

If you are looking for cases on one of the databases then you can use the party name to search but if you are looking for cases in hard copy or the party names are common then you will need to use the law report 'citation' please see the tab 'case citations' for a break down of how to use these to find your case.

Law reports in the Bodleian Law Library are on the main floor and start at CW UK 100 and in alphabetical order by title.

See below for the major case law databases in the UK

Related Law Bod guides

To discover which subscription databases enable holders of an Oxford Single Sign On to find case law from particular jurisdictions, international courts or legal systems, and to find free online resources, please consult one or more of the guides listed below