Court cases in Australia

Find information about court cases, including law reports, judgments, newspaper articles, police records and commentaries.

Court records

Accessing judgments

'A judgment outlines the facts of the case, discusses the evidence and refers to legislation and case law upon which the judicial decision is based. Judgments record, explain and communicate judicial decisions and the legal reasoning behind the decision' (source).

Judgments provide useful summaries of the key points of a case. They are also important reading if you want to understand legal precedent. Judgments may be available online or in print. See the list of resources below for more information.

Accessing court records

When it comes to recent cases, records apart from judgments may not be accessible, for privacy reasons. When records are closed it is from the time of the record's creation + 75 years for adults, or from the time of the record's creation + 99 years for children - see section 9 of the Public Records Act 1973 for more information.

Some indexes and transcriptions of historic records are available online or at the Library. The Library does not hold original court records. Many original court records be found at the Public Record Office Victoria (see Research guides, right, for more information about PROV's holdings, or contact them for more information).

More ways to find information about a case

With so many newspaper articles (historic and current) now available online, they are an excellent way of tracking the developments and results of a court case.

If you're having trouble finding court records, check to see if a law report (a summary of the judge's decision) exists, as it may provide some of the details that you are looking for. Only legally significant cases are reported on.

 

Disclaimer

Staff at the State Library of Victoria do not offer legal advice.

Every effort is made to provide up to date, accurate and relevant legal information but this is not intended to replace qualified legal advice.

Research guides

Transcripts

During court cases, records are kept of everything that is said by the judge, jury and witnesses while court is in session. These records are sometimes accessible to the public.

All Victorian courts:
Accessing transcripts of criminal cases
Accessing transcripts of civil cases

Magistrates’ Court Victoria:
Recordings of hearings may be available.

High Court of Australia:
Selected transcripts are available online from the High Court of Australia transcripts website.

Police records

Many police records are closed for privacy reasons. When records are closed it is from the time of the record's creation for 75 years for adults or 99 years for children - see section 9 of the Public Records Act 1973 for more information.

Historic police records be found at the Public Record Office Victoria (PROV). There are a number of very useful research guides to help you find historic police records held at the PROV and other archives and museum. Some of these records have been transcribed or indexed, which will make your search much easier:

State Library Victoria

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As of June 15 2020 the Library is open with reduced spaces and services.

Our Ask A Librarian  reference service is still available to assist with your research inquiries.