Know What You’re Looking For

Why is it useful to know the full name of law reports and their jurisdictions? Because you can find cases much more successfully if you look for them in the right places. You won’t find a US, UK, or Australian decision in an electronic resource if it doesn’t include US, UK, or Australian decisions. So it pays to know what you’re looking for.

To decipher an abbreviation we use the Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations or Appendix C of the Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation, a.k.a. the McGill Guide. If the abbreviation isn’t in one, try the other. Or, ask us. Once you know the name of the law report and its jurisdiction, you can check to see if you have the decision available in your library or at your firm, or if the Great Library has it. You can also try one of the free Internet LIIs such as CanLII, LII, or AustLII. You’ll have better luck finding cases on the LIIs by using case names rather than by law report citations, but regardless, if one search doesn’t work try another.

Here are some of the abbreviations that we’ve been asked for recently:

  • “ANZ Ins Cas” – Australian and New Zealand Insurance Reporter
  • “ITLR” – International Tax Law Reports (UK, but the cases are international.)
  • “Lloyd’s Rep” – Lloyd’s Law Reports (UK)
  • “NW” – North Western Reporter (US)

It takes just a few minutes to look up an abbreviation, but it can save you time in the long run. For example: SC versus SCR. SC stands for Session Cases (Scotland), while SCR is the abbreviation for Canada’s Supreme Court Reports – which one is more relevant for your research task?