The British Library has modern law reports published in the United Kingdom since 1865. You can research legal cases and use online databases, printed journals or news media in our Reading Rooms.
About the collection
At the British Library you can access comprehensive collections of law reports published in the UK from the 19th century onwards. We also have transcripts of judgments for selected cases.
Modern law reports aim to provide accurate full text records of judicial decisions and reasoning in cases that have legal value as precedents. They are dominated by cases from the higher courts and very rarely feature cases settled in the lower courts and tribunals.
Six or seven series of law reports provide general coverage of the UK courts while numerous series report on particular fields of law.
The series known as The Law Reports offers authoritative, full text reports. The Incorporated Council of Law Reporting has published this series since 1865. Prior to this, a proliferation of 'nominate' law reports published accounts of varying quality.
We have transcripts of judgments for UK intellectual property cases, Privy Council appeal cases, selected Court of Appeal (Civil) cases. A selection of judgment transcripts are also available on legal databases that we subscribe to.
In our collections of books and journals and national news, you'll also find:
- legal and news reporting
- case summaries and notes
- academic and practical commentary on legal cases.
What is available online?
Information is available on the following websites:
- The Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations deciphers law report citations
- British and Irish Legal Information Institute provides the text of most decisions from UK courts and tribunals. It also offers judgments from leading cases.
- Courts and Tribunals Judiciary has judgments and related information.
- The Supreme Court provides video of recent hearings from decided cases, judgments, summaries, and news alerts.
- Scottish Courts and Tribunals gives details of cases heard by the High Court of Justiciary, Scotland's supreme criminal court.
- The Incorporated Council of Law Reporting and Inner Temple Library have case summaries and current awareness services.
- Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (IALS) gives essential information about modern law report series.
- The Commonwealth Legal Information Institute (Commonlii) provides access to the English Reports. These includes most of the pre-1865 'nominate' reports.
What is available in our Reading Rooms?
Law reports in online databases
In the Social Science Reading Room you will find online legal databases that you can use for case searching. The databases provide access to case summaries, full text law reports, judgment transcripts, and commentary. The databases include the following law reports series:
- The Law Reports
- The Weekly Law Reports
- the All England Law Reports
- Scots Law Times
- Session Cases
- Northern Ireland Law Reports
- numerous specialist series.
The Social Sciences Reading Room also has printed reference sources such as law report indexes, case citators and Halsbury’s Laws of England.
Go to the Newsroom if you want to research news coverage of legal cases.
Law reports with incomplete coverage online
We have reports and journals that are incomplete or unavailable online. You can request the following selected titles for use in our Reading Rooms:
- Law Journal (1822–34) and Law Journal Reports (1835–1936)
- The Legal Observer (1830–46), Legal Observer, Digest, and Journal of Jurisprudence (1846–53), Legal Observer and Solicitors' Journal (1853–6)
- The Jurist (1837–67)
- The Law Times (1843–1965)
- Times Law Reports (1855–1950)
- The Solicitors' Journal & Reporter (1857–74), Solicitors' Rournal (1874–1906), Solicitors' Journal and Weekly Reporter (1906–27), The Solicitors' Journal (1928–)
- The Law Times Reports (1859–69)
- The Law Journal (1866–1965)
- Current Law (1947–date), Case Citators, Monthly Digests, Yearbooks
- The Court of Appeal transcripts 1951-1980: the microfiche edition
- The New Law Journal (1965–date).
You will find collection details for original nominate law report series in A Chronological List of Law Reports.
What is available in other organisations?
Online Sources in London Public Libraries will give information on London libraries that provide access to online law resources.
Many universities have law collections, but access for non-members may be restricted. You will need to enquire at each institution.
The Law Society Library, the libraries of the Inns of Court, and the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies serve academic lawyers and legal professionals. They apply admission criteria you'll need to enquire with each library about access.
Transcripts of judicial proceedings in England and Wales: a guide to sources will help you locate and purchase transcripts that are unavailable online. The Ministry of Justice also provides a transcript request order form and useful guidance notes.
The Registry Trust Ltd gives information about individual County Court and High Court Judgments and other publicly accessible records relating to court orders and fines. You have to pay to search these records.