HOW TO READ A CASE REPORT All report series use the same basic format and present information in the same manner.
1. Style of Cause • This is the title of the case. It names the plaintiff (person suing) first, then the defendant (person sued), or in an appeal, appellant first. • The “v” stands for “versus” but in legalese is pronounced “and”. • Example: Ryan et al. v. Hickson et al.
2. Name of the Court • The name of the court is always given. • (Ontario High Court)
3. The presiding Judge or Judges are listed • “J” stands for “Mr. or Madame Justice” and is not the initial of the Judge’s name. • (Mr. Justice Goodman)
4. The Date • The date is the date the judge wrote his or her judgment. It need not correspond to the date of the trial or of the report volume. • (September 30, 1974)
5. The Catchwords or Keywords • These indicate in standard terms the areas of law that the case is about and often act as headings for a subject index.
6. Headnotes • Headnotes are written by the editorial staff of the company that publishes the report series. • These notes are the editor’s precis of the full text of the decision.
7. Cases Considered • Cases considered by the court in deciding the case listed and their citations given. Sometimes the list will indicate how the court used them. Example: “refd to” means “refered to”).
8. History of the Action The history of the action explains the nature of the case • Here (on the handout) it is an action for damages, ie. monetary compensation) • The results of any previous hearings are also shown
9. Lawyers • The lawyers who represented the parties at trial are named. Barry McDougall, J. Daly, and W. Bark Q. C.
10. Judgment • The judgment (the judge’s decision) is reproduced in full. • An appeal is heard by several judges and more than one may choose to write an opinion (those who don’t will sign one of the other’s). • All opinions will be reported, prefaced by the name of the judge writing the opinion.