Law Reporting - Family Court cases

History of law reporting

Law reporting originated as a way of establishing which principles would apply in particular legal and factual circumstances, providing a means for greater consistency in the application of the law.

Law reporting began with the practice of barristers taking notes while sitting in court, and was then taken up by commercial publishers. Judgments were selected for their value in providing information about how the court interpreted and applied the law to similar fact circumstances. Cases were reported in printed volumes of law reports for dissemination to the legal profession.

With the advent of online databases and the Internet, much case law is now readily accessible. Judgments are widely published and many jurisdictions, including the Family Court of Australia, now make most of their judgments available.

Judgments in law reports (online and in print)

Australian family law judgments may be reported in two series of law reports – Family Law Cases (FLC) and Family Law Reports (Fam LR).

Australian Family law cases

North Ryde, NSW, CCH Australia
Mode of citation: (Year) FLC paragraph number

Contains the full text, or sometimes the edited text, of selected Australian family law cases decided by the High Court of Australia, Family Court of Australia, Federal Circuit Court, Family Court of Western Australia and State and Territory Supreme Courts. Each volume includes tables of the cases reported, legislation referred to in the reported cases, cases judicially considered, and a subject index.

Family law reports

Sydney, LexisNexis
Mode of citation: Volume number Fam LR page number

Contains the full text of selected Australian family law cases decided by the High Court of Australia, Family Court of Australia, Federal Court of Australia, Federal Circuit Court, Family Court of Western Australia and State and Territory Supreme Courts. Each volume includes tables of the cases reported, legislation referred to in the reported cases, cases judicially considered, and a subject index.

Judgments in free access websites

Family Court judgments are published on the Court's website and on AustLII (Australasian Legal Information Institute). Only the most recent judgments are available on the Court's website. A more comprehensive and searchable database of Family Court judgments is available via AustlII.

Federal Circuit Court judgments are available on the Federal Circuit Court website or AustLII.

High Court of Australia judgments are available on the High Court website or on AustLII.

Citation

Each Family Court judgment is allocated a medium neutral citation which is a unique identifying code. The mode of citation is Parties [year] FamCA judgment number.

For example 

M & M [2004] FamCA 1374
Or
Brodie & Brodie [2009] FamCAFC 6

Catchwords

Catchwords are standardised indexing terms which describe the legal and factual subject matter of the case and assist with successful searching in electronic databases.

For example:
CHILDREN – With whom a child shall live – Relocation – Application to relocate interstate

Note: Section 121 of the Family Law Act 1975 makes it an offence, except in very limited circumstances, to publish or distribute a report of a case or part of a case, including information contained in a judgment, which identifies parties, related or associated persons, witnesses or others involved in the case. A breach of the section is a criminal offence. The section also sets out certain limited defences to criminal liability. An example is where the Court has expressly authorised the publication.

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