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Law Subject guide: Finding Case law

Understanding case law references!

You need to be able to read case law – the judgments given by courts in past cases. This is an important source of law in the Irish legal system. Court judgments are not case studies or examples of legislation in action. They are real law as developed by judges in real cases involving real people.  Interpreting the legislation in real life cases.

There are a number of places to find case law. First, in the library, the reported cases are collected into volumes of reports. In Ireland, there are two main sets of reports, the Irish Reports (IR) and the Irish Law Reports Monthly (ILRM). There are also a number of online electronic databases where reported judgments are available. Westlaw.ie  and Justis are probably most useful. There are also a category of cases which are unreported. Sometimes, the judgment will never be reported. Justis has a comprehensive set of unreported judgments.

Abbreviation Full name Library database or online source
AC Appeals Cases Westlaw.uk
BCLC Butterworths Company Law Cases Westlaw.uk
Ch. Chancery Westlaw.uk
ECHR European Court of Human Rights Hudoc
ECJ European Court of Justice Justis and Westlaw.uk
EHRR European Human Rights Reports Westlaw.uk
Fam. Family Cases Westlaw.uk
IEDC District Court Judgments  
I.E.H.C. Irish High Court Judgments (Online) Irish law cases
I.E.S.C. Irish Supreme Court Judgments Irish law cases
I.R. Irish Reports Justis and Westlaw.uk
ILRM Irish Law Reports Monthly Westlaw.ie
ILT Irish Law Times Westlaw.ie
K.B./Q.B. Kings Bench/Queens Bench Westlaw.uk
WLR Weekly Law Reports Westlaw.uk

Check out a recent article, book or report on the topic, e.g. Irish Contract Law.

Most well researched material will reference prominent cases as examples

Newspaper articles from reputable newspapers such as the Irish Times will discuss recent high profile cases and provide a layperson's view of the case.

Sometimes it is difficult to search by party name on the Databases. O names such as O Neill and Mc names are difficult.  If you have a reference with a specific year e.g.

O Neill v Ryan & Ryanair Ltd.  [1993] ILRM 557

Then browse the database by name of journal and year.

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