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Law - UK law reports and cases: Finding specific cases (printed sources)

This guide aims to provide a brief introduction to the sources which can be used for tracing UK law reports and finding cases by name, subject etc.

On this page

  • If you have the citation (reference)
  • If you have the names of the parties
  • Further information about the case
  • Cases heard before 1865

Quick Links

If you have the citation (reference)

1.  If necessary, use the Cardiff Index (link on the left) or Raistrick's Index to legal citations ... (see Citations and Abbreviations page)  to find the full name of the court or the law reports series. 

Example: [2007] EWHC 3395 (QB); [2009] R.T.R. 1

The Cardiff Index clarifies that this case was heard in the England & Wales High Court, Queen's Bench Division, and both clarify that it was reported in Road traffic reports.

2.  Search for the title of the law reports series in the Library catalogue.

Example: Criminal appeal reports

Use a Title or Journal search - we have 1908 onwards in the BJL.

3.  For post-2000 cases, if you have only the name of the court, you will need to search on LexisLibrary or Westlaw, unless you also have the names of the parties (in which case, see below).

If you have the names of the parties

Search in the indexes/tables of cases in the following printed resources, in order to find out in which reports series the case appears:

  • Current Law Case Citator [shelved on the 2nd floor of the BJL at KB 1 C92] and Current law monthly digest [KB 1 C9] which together cover 1947 onwards;
  • Law reports index [KB 100 L4 I3] 1951 onwards;
  • All England law reports : “Consolidated tables and index”, and “Current tables and index”, and recent issues [all at KB 100 A4] cover 1936 onwards;
  • All England law reports reprints : Index [KB 100 A4] which covers up to 1935;
  • The Digest : “Consolidated table of cases” [KB 30 E5] which will tell you which volume of the main work to look in. Please note: Our subscription was cancelled at the end of 2005.


Further information about the case

1.  For details of the case history, cases referring to the case, and cases considered by the case:

  • Current Law Case Citator [KB 1 C92], and Current law monthly digest [KB 1 C9].  Cases are listed alphabetically.  Provides details of where the case has been applied, cited, considered, distinguished or referred to;
  • Find the case summary in The Digest [KB 30 E5].  This includes a case history.

2.  For details of any journal articles which mention the case:

  • Current law : case citator, 1947 onwards [KB 1 C92] - find the case you are interested in; any relevant journal articles are included in the list of law reports, although they are not very easy to distinguish;
  • Index to legal periodicals and books, 1970-May 2007 [K 18 I25] - use the "Table of cases".  NB this title covers only a small number of UK journals.


Cases heard before 1865

1.  Start with The Digest [shelved on the 2nd floor of the BJL at KB 30 E5].  Look in the “Consolidated table of cases”, to find which volume you need.  Then look in the table of cases in the appropriate volume to find the case number.  Finally look at the case digest in order to find where the case was reported (this information is given in abbreviated form – you may need to use “Reports included in this work and their abbreviations” in part 1 of the “Cumulative supplement” to find out the meaning).

Example: Warlow v Harrison (an 1859 case referred to in a Court of Appeal hearing in 2000).  In The Digest’s “Consolidated table of cases”, you are referred to Vol. 1(4), Agency.  The table of cases in this volume shows that it is case 3912.  Looking at the summary, you will find references to several law report series, such as the English reports (vol.120, page 925) and the Law journal reports (vol.29, Queen’s Bench page 14).

2.  If you don’t find a reference in The Digest you should try one or more of the following:

  • The English Reports [KB 100 E5] cover the Middle Ages to 1865.  Vols.177-178 are the “Index of cases”.  If you already have the original reference (see example below) an alternative approach is to use the “Chart of reports” (shelved between vols. 176 and 177) to find the correct reprint volume.
  • All England law reports reprint [KB 100 A4], covering 1558-1935.  The "Index and table of cases" lists cases both by party name and by subject.
  • Law journal reports [KB 100 L36] cover 1826-1949.  Until 1900, an "Analytical digest" was published approximately every 5 years, arranged by subject but with a table of cases.  Each summary refers to the full text in the main report series (and after 1865 to The Law reports series also).

Example: Moravia v Hunter (1814)

This case is not listed in The Digest, so you will need to try another source.  Looking in the “Index of cases” for The English reports, you will find the following reference:

Moravia v Hunter  2 M & S 444     105  446

The final two numbers will lead you to page 446 in vol.105; alternatively, using the “Chart of reports” you will find that M & S indicates the 6 volumes of reports by Maule & Selwyn (1813-17), which are reprinted in The English reports vol. 105.