Did you know that our local FirstPoint team also writes the headnotes for the Australian Law Journal Reports?
(by John Carroll and Colleen Tognetti*)
As well as providing timely and accurate digest notes for all significant decisions of the High Court of Australia, the Thomson Reuters FirstPoint Cases Team is responsible for reporting those decisions in the Australian Law Journal Reports (ALJR). The team is well qualified for this task, being locally based, legally qualified and in many cases extensively experienced in professional practice.
ALJR is a current awareness product, so our headnotes are always written and published in a short timeframe. In fact, all 13 High Court judgments delivered to April this year have been reported in the series (most recently in the May 2014 issue that went to press just before Easter).
For ease of research, ALJR uses the Australian Digest classification key as the starting-point in catchwords and in the index published with each annual bound volume. Our reporters strive to capture and classify all relevant points of law covered by the judgments so as to give our customers as much useful information as possible in advance of the decisions being reported in the Commonwealth Law Reports. The headnotes provide a concise report of relevant statutory provisions and case law as well as each Justice’s holdings with reference to specific paragraphs of the published judgment. Everything customers need to familiarise themselves with the case is right there up front – in keeping with the style of the journal itself.
Identifying the significant legal principles to include in a report isn’t a job for the faint-hearted and that is why our more experienced legal editors are assigned the task of writing ALJR headnotes. Many of them use their experience with ALJR to report for other series published by Thomson Reuters.
As an interesting aside, it’s pleasing to note that the Justices of the High Court, when citing cases not yet published in the Commonwealth Law Reports, have begun placing the ALJR citation first, ahead of our competitor’s advance series and the medium-neutral citation. We’d like to think that’s because our product is the best in its class!
The Australian Law Journal Reports first emerged as a discrete series in 1958. Previously, brief case notes were published in each monthly issue of the Journal. Accordingly, the ALJR series begins with Vol 32. Case notes prior to 1958 are cited, for example, as (1957) 31 ALJ.
A new practice has been adopted commencing with this issue of the Journal for the publication of reports of decisions of the High Court of Australia. In future the judgments of the members of the Court will be published in full and will thus constitute an accurate advance series of reports available shortly after the delivery of the judgment.
Current Topics, 32 ALJ 1, 23 May 1958
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In addition to being available in print, the Australian Law Journal Reports are also available online, on Westlaw AU, from Volume 77 onwards. We would welcome any feedback on whether subscribers would value increased online coverage of the backset of reports.
*The authors of this post, John Carroll LLM and Colleen Tognetti LLB, are co-editors and principal reporters for the ALJR.