Library Subject Guides

Law: Australia


Australia has a federal system of government, comprising the Commonwealth (national government), six states (New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia) and three self-governing territories (Australian Capital Territory, Northern Territory and Norfolk Island). They use a common law system where legislation and case law form the basis of  the law.

The Australian court system is hierarchical, with the highest court being the High Court of Australia. There are three Federal Courts (Federal Court of Australia, Family Court of Australia and Federal Magistrates Court), and each state generally has three levels of courts, with the Supreme Court at the top of the state hierarchy.

Legal Encyclopedia


Finding case law

When you are referred to a case, you will usually be given the citation. This is the formal method of referring to a reported case and will follow a citation convention. The citation includes the names of the parties before the court, the date and often a report series and page number.

To find a cited case, try the following four-step process:

  1. Examine the citation to identify the abbreviation of the law report series.
  2. Determine the full title of the law report series using the Cardiff index to legal abbreviations.
  3. Search for the full title of the law report series using a "Browse Alphabetically: By Title" search in the Library Catalogue.
  4. Locate the law report online or on the shelf in the Central Library.

Finding Australian Cases

If you have the case citation, follow the process above.

The databases below provide access to many Australian cases, including both reported and unreported cases.

You can search by case name, subject, court and judge.


The major federal law report series are:


The authorised state and territory law report series are:


If you cannot find what you need, please contact the Law Subject Librarians – Theresa Buller and John Arnold.

You can: