Incorporated Council of Law Reporting online

By | 28 May 2013
The Incorporated Council of Law Reporting (ICLR) has, since 1866, met the challenge of providing high quality law reports of cases before the superior courts of  England & Wales and the UK.  Recently it has started providing its report series online via its own platform.  With the generosity befitting a charitable institution, the ICLR has offered free access to UK universities – and Oxford has been happy to accept!
ICLR online: if you are on the OU network this will take you straight to the search page

ICLR online: if you are on the OU network this will take you straight to the search page

Which reports are we talking about? As the academic year is nearing its close, we are confident that the abbreviations  found in citations are now meaningful to all Oxford law students so will use them to list the series included.  (As the online service offers complete coverage, back to 1865, the earlier citation forms are given in round brackets – full stops expunged  as the search system on this database doesn’t cope with them.)
  • AC  (LR HL/HL; LR Sc & Div/HL  Sc.; LR App Cas; LR PC)
  • QB (LR QB; QBD; KB)
  • Ch (LR Ch App; LR Eq; ChD)
  • Fam (LR A & E; LR P & D; PD; P)
  • LR CP ; CPD
  • LR CCR.
  • LR Exch. ; ExD.
  • WLR Weekly Law Reports 1953 – Cw UK 120 W20
  • ICR Industrial Cases Reports 1975 – Cw UK 120 I41
  • BLR Business Law Reports 2007- Cw UK 120 L135
  • PTSR Public and Third Sector Law Reports 2009 – Cw UK 120 P95
The only ICLR series not included (at the moment) are the short-lived Reports of Restrictive Practices Cases  (LR [n] RPC) 1958-1972 (many but not all of these cases can be found in the WLR).
Of course, these law reports  have been available online via third party subscription databases – and will continue to be.  Thanks to their  Westlaw UK subscription,  current Oxford students (with an Oxford Single Sign On username and password) already have online access to all of these report series (once again with the exception of the LR RPC), while LexisLibrary  supplies the The Law Reports series – ie the first 7 in the above list.
We cannot see that current OSS holding students would want to change to this new database, as the alternatives offer easy routes to related online content such as law journal articles and commentary.However, the advantage of the ICLR platform is that,  while on the OU network,  or if off campus when logged into SOLO/OxLIP+ or using a VPN,  no username and password is required.  This will mean registered users of the Bodleian  – such as our Visiting Academics while in the LawBod – will be able to access the most authoritative sources of English case law online for the first time.
The ICLR online editors have tried to keep using the database as intuitive and simple as possible.
The database opens on the search screen below. Note that there is a Quick Find search box just under the green banner on the dark grey strip into which you could put a very distinctive party name – with or without the ICLR series abbreviation and/or year if you know them. Curiously it does not understand citation searches.
Perhaps fortunately therefore,  it is in the Simple Search screen which is most prominent – and we suspect the less frustrating way to go. (The Advanced Search option which adds fields to search by Subject Matter (aka keywords), Date of Judgment, Courts and Judges.)
ICLR online search 1
You can copy and paste in a citation here : if it is a neutral citation be careful to put it in the right box. If you are using a citation of a printed report, it must be to one of the ICLR’s own series (see list above) Enter the complete citation – with volume numbers and/or years in square brackets were appropriate, but without any full stops after or between letters  eg [2011] 1 WLR 1985, [1894] 1 QB 133, LR 3 Exch 107. (As well-trained OU students you would know that a date which is in round brackets is superfluous, thanks to the words of the LRSMP trainers/OSCOLA para 2.1.1 engraved on your hearts!)

A curious feature of the search screen is that you must not combine a law report citation with any other term in another search box.

If you are trying to search by party names take note of this warning from the suppliers:  “The search looks for individual words or part words set out in a case report header: thus entering simply Forsik will find Forsikringsaktieselskapet Vesta v Butcher.  To prevent implied truncation, enclose word or letter with quotes, eg “A v B”” to avoid finding words merely beginning with A or B.”  The system understands the wildcard  * for variant spellings/missing letters but expects you to use ? for individual letters or foreign accents, eg Soci?t? Anonyme.

In a free text search, you must use ” ” to make a phrase eg “love your neighbour.” (The search box otherwise assumes Boolean AND between your terms. You can use OR or NOT to construct a more sophisticated free text search.)
Results screen
Results are returned initially with the most recent case at the top of list. Small red pointers to the right of the names of the sections of the results fields (case name, neutral citation, ICLR citation, court and date) all enable simple (alphabetical/chronological) resorting. For example clicking the arrow to the right of date brings the oldest report/the first case to the top of the list.
Hovering over first three catchwords should bring up the full subject matter of each entry.
Initial results screen

Initial results screen: use red triangles to resort

A click on the citation will open the report you want to read in “dynamic view” (HTML) – while the pdf is simply a click on an icon away. The Index Card section of the results page also opens when you have clicked to view a case.
Having chosen a report by clicking on the citation this view appears

Having chosen a report by clicking on the citation this view appears

The left hand Index Card column brings up the CitatorPlus information for the case you are reading.  Click to open (+) or close (-) tabbed sections showing subject matter, appellate history, subsequent consideration and cases, words & phrases and legislation considered.
Showing part of Index Card information

Showing part of Index Card information

The Briefcase icon is the way you can save your bundle of either case reports or index cards.
When you have finished reading one report and wish to go back to another revealed in your initial search, click on“Case Results” on the grey Toolbar.

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