Date: 27 August 2005
Our search has two versions, a subscriber search and a public limited version.
Searching has to be learned. The best way to learn is to play about with the page, trying different combinations.
Please, and above all, do not get stuck. Ask!. Questions about how to use the site are the best way we have of improving it. There will be times when we do not have the case you want, but we do find the case sought in most instances, and the fact that you are looking for a case is sufficient justification for us to make sure it is here the next time for someone else. If you say what you are looking for we can either help you find it, or try to make sure it is added for next time.
General bits to understand
The cases and searches shown below are from actual searches. They explain what was wrong with what was typed and why, and what would have worked.
|Case Name||Do not try to use the full name. Case names vary greatly. Use the most unusual surnames. We will usually not have the first names of parties.|
|We try to be consistent in our naming. We generally avoid shortening of names. 'A-G' will appear as 'Attorney-General', 'DPP' as Director of Public Prosections', 'CC' as 'County Council and so forth. If we know the initials or first names of a party, we will use them. We do not usually include simple titles such as 'Mr' 'Ms' etc.
If you have a case name, it will often be best _not_ to add any other search term. This is particularly so where the name is an unusual one.
|Case sought||Good Search||Why||Bad Search||Why|
|X (Minors) -v- Bedfordshire County Council; M (A Minor) and Another -v- Newham London Borough Council; Etc||X Minors Bedfordshire||Proper spacing. Enough to find it without too much 'noise'||X(Minors)||Ends up looking for XMinors. It needs the space, and doesn't like the brackets.|
|Mettoy Pension Trustees -v- Evans||pension evans||Enough detail given to locate the case.||Meltoy Pension Trustee Ltd vs Evans||'vs' will never be found - we use '-v-'. 'Meltoy should be 'Mettoy'. With unusual words and names try to be very accurate, and use only names you are sure of.|
|Regina -v- Smith and Jones||Smith Regina Jones||Both words will help restrict the search, but a long list will still be produced.||R v Jones||'R' matches against every word in which that letter appears. 'Jones' is bad as a 'second surname'. Cases will often be listed as 'Regina -v- Smith and Another', so 'Jones' will not help.|
|North Glamorgan NHS Trust -v- Ceri Ann Walters||Walters Glamorgan||Enough detail given to locate the case.||Ceri||In fact we do have the first name, but we might not have, and there is a real risk of misspelling 'Ceri'. With unusual words and names if you are not sure, try to pick something else|
|Court||This works from a pull down box. To clear the entry, use the clear line (always the second line in the box). See the list of court codes if you need explanation of the courts involved.|
|Judgment Year||Years are inclusive. Clear both years to exclude the date from the criteria after they have been once used. |
This refers to the year in which, so far as we know, the judgment was handed down. Often a case will not appear in a law report until the following year, and occasionally not for several years.
If you put a year in the 'From' box but leave the 'To' box entry clear, the program inserts the same year in the 'To' box. If you enter a year in the 'To' box, but nothing in the 'From' box, the search assumes you are searching from 1200. To have the year ignored, make sure that you clear both boxes.
|Judge names, eg Hutton, Denning, Ognall. We have judge names for only a relatively small proportion of cases, and then an entry may still be incomplete, particularly for older cases. This will sometimes come up trumps, but is not reliable.|
|Area of Law|
|Our areas of law are general designations which can help to limit a search which would otherwise return too many results. The box can be cleared using the second, blank line. Please see our list of the areas of law.
Two particularly need some explanation.
|This is a search on the statute name and sections where available. Though it is possible sometimes to search on the section, this can be unreliable. It is often however a very good way to find starting points for case research. If you are looking directly for cases concerning a particular Act it can be the best jumping off point.
As always, do not include to much detail. If you want cases of section 9 of the Theft Act 1968, 'Theft 1968' will give a starting list of cases. The section number adds nothing - '9' occurs in the year also.
|GeneralThis is a search on the references where we have them.
DO NOT include brackets around the year. If you want  2 WLR 345, the best search is 1994 WLR 345.
We do not have full databases for example of WLR or All ER cases. You may know a case reference of  WLR 1 234. We will frequently list the case, but we may not have that reference. The search will only find what we have. This becomes more of a problem when you try to use references from more specialist reports.
We try to standardise the references to case series. We strip out full stops, and insert spaces.
Cases are often reported only in the year after they are heard. If you have a reference ' 1 All ER 57' you may be better using the 'Year of judgment' box to look for cases between 2000 and 2001.
|Case sought||Good Search||Why||Bad Search||Why|
| 2 All ER 769||2001 2 All ER 769||Well, if you are quite sure of the reference, you are doing well. Omit the brackets.||All E.R.||Punctuation will confuse the search engine. If it did find all cases in the All ER, it would find too many. Add more detail.|
|This is a search on our summary, where we have one. It is not a search against the full text of the judgment.
This will always be arbitrary. Words used in summaries are not key words, but I am surprised and please just how often it does in fact turn up trumps.
Sometimes you have to be canny in searching. If you want to find cases on rights to light, you might start with looking for those words in the headnote. Of course, the word 'right' appears all over the place, and you will get too many responses. The problem is solved by refining the search and using the 'area of law' field to restrict the search, for example, to cases concerning 'Land' law.
Our search facility is central to lawindexpro, and we welcome feedback on how it might be further improved.
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Copyright and Database Rights: David Swarbrick 2013. No copyright is asserted in any material subject to Crown, Parliamentary or other copyright. We give full and grateful acknowledgement to the many judges who have applied their learning, wisdom and literary skills to develop our laws, and whose words we have so freely borrowed.