Using Legal Databases
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BAILII is an open access website where you can find case law, legislation and other law-related materials for England & Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Ireland and Europe (Court of Justice of the European Communities and European Court of Human Rights).

The following tutorial will show you how to find cases on BAILII using case names, citations and exact phrases, and how to navigate your search results.

Searching Case Law: Tutorial

Start by going to BAILII’s home page The search box on this page allows you to search all BAILII materials at once and can return a huge number of results. You may like to try out this search box later.

Note: All links in this page open in a new browser window or tab. To help complete the tutorial resize your browser windows so that you have the instructions and the BAILII database open size by side.

For now, click on the Case Law Search link (to the right of the search box on the home page).

  1. To find Barber v Somerset County Council [2004] 1 WLR 1089; [2004] 2 All ER 385 using the case name :type barber somerset in the Case Name box and click the search button (upper right). [Note - It is always best to search using only the most unique words in the case name.]

  2. Click on the link in the search result to the view the case. Then click on your browser’s back button twice to return to the Case Law Search page.

  3. To find Phelps v Hillingdon LBC [2000] UKHL 47, using the citation, type [2000] UKHL 47 in the Citation Search box and click the search button.

  4. Click on the link in the search result to the view the case. Scroll through the case and you will see links to cases cited in the judgment that you can also view on BAILII.
You can read cases online or print them using the printable version link at the top of the case.You can also link to cases. Go to the BAILII home page and click on the instructions for “Link to BAILII” to the left on the screen.
  1. To find cases using an exact phrase, type rape shield in the exact phrase box.

  2. The default order for your search results is “relevance”. Use the radio buttons at the top of the search result list to sort by date, then click the re-sort button (refer to the first image below).

  3. Click on the most recent case (the first on the list).

  4. Click the red “context” arrow to locate the phrase “rape shield” (refer to the second image below).

  5. Return to the Case Law Search page using your browser’s back button.

  6. Type identity card in the exact phrase box and use the tick box below the search screen to restrict the search to Scotland cases (refer to the third image below).

Key parts of the BAILLI website

Sorting the results by date
(Click on the images to see a larger view).

Bookmarking tools: