Frequently Asked Questions


How do I find a report cited in a Module Guide?

Our answer:

If the case is cited in a Module Guide, the citation itself will give you all the information you need in order to find the case. The process will be illustrated by working through the following example:

R v Z [2005] 2 AC 467

You will notice that the citation gives you the following information:

  • The name of the case (R [which stands for the Latin words "Rex", King, or "Regina", Queen] v Z
  • The date of the case (2005)
  • An abbreviated form of the title of the law report in which the case was published (AC)
  • The volume number of the law report in which the case was published. Note that the volume number appears before the law report title abbreviation - in this case, it is volume 2 for 2005
  • The page number on which the case starts (page 467)

In order to find the case, you will need to know which law report is represented by the "AC" abbreviation. One of the best ways to find out the meaning of a legal abbreviation is to look in the Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations, freely available on the Internet. Searching this index will reveal that AC stands for the Law Reports, Appeal Cases.

The next stage is to find out which electronic database includes the full text of the Law Reports, Appeal Cases . You can also search the A-Z Journals List to find out which database contains a law report series and the years available. This will reveal that the Appeal Cases are available in two  databases Lexis+ and Westlaw. You could also check the finding case reports online table, or search vLex Justis by citation or party names.

To retrieve the case from Westlaw, log in then select the "Cases" link from the menu at the top of the page, then cases search from the drop down menu. On the cases search page, try typing R v Z in the "Parties" search box and click "Search". You will notice that over seventy results are found. What should you do now to narrow your search?

Click on the "Edit Search" button in the top right corner of the screen. Now try also searching by the citation by typing [2005] 2 AC 467 into the citation search field and clicking "Search". You will notice that you have now retrieved the 2005 case R. v Hasan (Aytach). When select the case you will see that the case is also known as R. v Z.

On the results page, select the arrow to the left of the result to display the party names, the subjects and keywords assigned to the case, the citations where the case has been reported with direct links to the law reports available in Westlaw, and the Case Analysis document (highlighted in yellow).

The Case Analysis provides the information you need when looking for relevant case law. Select Case Analysis to view the Case Digest (a short summary of the case). The Case Analysis also includes the appellate history, cases and legislation citing the case and cited by the case, and related journal articles, books and topic overviews. The Law Reports section contains links to the law reports available in Westlaw.

This example illustrates that you may need to try searching by various terms such as by citation, party names or subject, in order to find the case you are looking for. For further information on searching Westlaw see the Quick Start Guide.

It is essential to become familiar with all of the major legal databases, (see the Online Library Nutshell Guide for Laws for an overview of the key legal databases). To familiarise yourself with LexisLibrary search for and retrieve R. v Hasan (Aytach) from Lexis+. If you need assistance logging into Lexis+ with your student portal password see the login guide.

To search the Lexis+ for cases select Cases, you can enter your search terms r v z into the search box on the home page, and select cases from the drop down menu in the search box. Again you will have retrieved too many cases (459 total results across all content types, and 177 case reports and 118 judgments). For a more precise search, select advanced search, “select a specific content type” and then select cases.  The advanced cases search provides more specific search boxes which enable advanced searching. Type R v Z into the "Case Name" search boxes and click "Search". Now only 12 case reports and 12 judgments are retrieved.

To narrow your search, search by the citation. Citation search is more effective as a citation is specific to an individual case. Select the Lexis+ logo in the top left corner to go back to the home page. Then under content, select cases, then advanced search, to go back to the advanced cases search. Enter the citation [2005] 2 AC 467 into the citation search box and click search to retrieve the Case Overview. To view the 2005 Court of Appeal law report, select [2005] 2 AC 467.

For further information on searching LexisLibrary see the Quick Start Guide, and Legal Information Skills Tutorials.

For assistance, contact the Online Library Enquiry Service.