Western Libraries

United Kingdom Legal Research

John & Dotsa Bitove Family Law Library

Legal Citation

Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations

This database allows you to search for the meaning of abbreviations for English language legal publications, from the British Isles, the Commonwealth and the United States, including those covering international and comparative law.

Case Law Research

Judicial decisions from the courts of the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland) which include the reasons for the decision, are written by the presiding judge(s) and made available through Case Law Reports or electronically through commercial databases or free websites. The following list contains the commonly-known reporter series in print as well as links to electronic sources and special reference materials.

If you are not familiar with researching English case law, you may want to start with secondary sources such as Halsbury’s Laws of England, which is organized by legal topic, as well as textbooks found in the library catalogue. These will outline the relevant case law that you should be looking at.

Reporting from 1220-1865

Nominate Reports

Prior to 1865, cases were reported by private reporters. There were literally hundreds of reports series published under their individual names (e.g. Keen, Barnewall and Adolplus, etc. ), but unfortunately they varied greatly in quality. Few law libraries possess a complete collection of these reports.

For convenience, these nominate reports have been collected and reprinted in three different series, the most authoritative of which is:

The English Reports, Full Reprint (1220-1865)

KD270 1900.E5
The most authoritative collection of caselaw from the nominate reporters. Law print collection is in storage. Volumes can be retrieved through the library catalogue. Online via HeinOnline

Revised Reports (1785-1865)

KD270 1785.R4
Selected cases only. Law print collection is in storage. Volumes can be retrieved through the library catalogue.

The All England Law Reports Reprint (1558-1935)

Selected cases from the Law Times Reports. This series was published to provide a retrospective archive to The All England Law Reports which began in 1936. It covers cases from 1558-1935.
Available online via Lexis Advance Quicklaw


Reporting from 1865 to Present

The Law Reports

In 1865 the English government created a body called the Incorporated Council of Law Reporting. From 1865 on The Law Reports, which were organized by court, were published.

This series remains in place to the present, although the court structure has changed, so some of the titles are different now from what they were in 1865.

Appeal Cases (KD275.4.L3)
Chancery Appeals (KD276.G75)
Equity (KD276.2.G75)

Chancery Division Family Division (KD279.3.G755)
Queen's Bench (KD277.2.G745)
Common Pleas (KD277.4.G75)
Exchequer (KD277.6.G75)
Probate and Divorce (KD279.2.G754)

Available online via ICLR Online. You can also search for cases in JustCite, which will provide a link to ICLR Online.

All England Law Reports

The All England Law Reports is a general law report series of cases from 1936 to date. This series comprises judgments with headnotes and catchwords from the House of Lords, both divisions of the Court of Appeal and all divisions of the High Court.
Law print collection is in storage. Volumes can be retrieved through the library catalogue.
Online via Lexis Advance Quicklaw (with pdf copies available from 1996 to date).

The Law Library keeps the All-England Law Reports Annual Review in the reference section.  The annual review contains detailed analysis of significant decisions reported during the previous year. It is written by leading academic lawyers.
1982-2012 (ceased publication in 2012)
KD288 .A645 A4

Case Law Citators and Citation Style

Current Law Case Citator


Published by Sweet & Maxwell, the citator covers periods of years: 1947-1976; 1977-1997; 1998-2001; annual volumes 2002- ; monthy cumulative digests.

These volumes provide an indexing of cases with subsequent judicial history and treatment. Each entry will also refer to the a digest summary in the Current Law Yearbooks (KD296.C82) as well as a list of parallel citations in order of authority (Law Reports first, newspapers last).


Cite to the English Reports with a parallel cite to the nominate reporter.
Spencer's Case (1583), 5 Co Rep 16a, 77 ER 72 (KB).

Cite to the Law Reports where possible (newer cases have neutral citations as well). The citation to the Law Reports is not to the series but to the individual reporter.

Whyte v Pollock (1882), [1882] 7 AC 400 (HL)

Campbell v MGN Ltd, [2004] UKHL 22, [2004] 2 AC 457.