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SENG 401 - Introduction to Legal Research for Software Engineering

This guide provides an introduction to legal research for non-lawyers

About case law

Like legislation, case law is a primary source of legal information. Case laws are decisions of courts, tribunals and other adjudicative bodies.  

Cases are collected in case reporters. Reporters can be based on topic, region, court or tribunal level.

Cases also are collected in online databases that are arranged by topic, region, court or tribunal. Some of these databases are freely available on the web; others are edited and available by subscription.

Case law is mandatory authority and may establish the law in areas not governed by statute and may also establish judicial interpretations of legislation. Case law forms precedent for other courts to apply, in accordance with principle of stare decisis: In general, lower courts are bound by decisions of higher courts on the same point of law in similar or comparable circumstances.


Finding case law

Entry points to the immense body of case law are often found with secondary sources which will provide you with the names and citations to leading cases.

You can use the case law databases below to locate copies of the cases that found in the secondary sources and can also find cases by conducting full text searches in these databases.

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