English Reports 1220-1873 Available Free Online

CommonLII has just announced that, thanks to Australian High Court Justice Michael Kirby, it is now making the English Reports from 1220-1873 available online. (Well, from 1457, really; the 1220 cases, of which there are a great many, are nonetheless outliers: the dates leap from 1220 straight to 1457. The data were provided by Justis.

The cases are in PDF and not searchable, so far as I can tell. OCR of that old type would be a nightmare anyway.

I have to say it is an impressive sight to look at the four centuries of links to this great historical resource now, thanks to Justice Kirby and the miracle of the internet, available to all, everywhere.

At the same time, CommonLII is announcing LawCite,

an international case citator and is the first product of a 3 year Australian Research Council funded project to research into automated systems for citation recognition.

I haven’t tested it — it’s in alpha — and it clearly deserves a test drive. If someone takes it for a spin, let us know how it fares.


  1. Free! Wow–that is huge news. So, Justis is making the PDFs available for free, and you can subscribe to their service for the searchable version. Makes sense to me.

  2. I wonder if anyone is planning to put up the Revised Reports: being a republication of such cases in the English courts of common law and equity, from the year 1785, as Are Still of Practical Utility, edited by Sir Frederick Pollock, et al. (London: Sweet and Maxwell; Boston: Little, Brown, 1891-1917). I always think of this set, and how it fared in competition with the English Reports, whenever someone makes an argument that law reports should be more selective.

  3. The ERs are in fact searchable! (I shouldn’t post late in the evening when I’m too tired to test properly.) Use the search box on the main page. In fact, you can use your browser “find” function to locate yourself within any found page. This is very very good.