The Council of Law Reporting for NSW from time to time undertakes special projects relevant to law reporting that it considers may be of interest to people engaged in the administration or practice of law in New South Wales.
NSWLR Catchwords Project
The Council of Law Reporting for NSW has developed a modern and comprehensive legal catchwords taxonomy. The new catchwords are now in use in the NSW Law Reports, as well as in NSW courts and tribunals.
Background and aims
The catchwords project was launched in 2015, when we set out to thoroughly review and revise the catchwords used in the NSWLR. At that time, the existing catchwords guide included 208 level 1 subject headings and a great deal of overlap and duplication. There was also inconsistency between the catchwords assigned by the courts and those published in the NSWLR.
We believed that modernising, streamlining and harmonising the catchwords would benefit not only NSWLR reporters and court personnel, but also the legal profession and others seeking to access the judgments.
The new catchwords
There are now 65 level 1 catchwords, which have been organised logically and with as little duplication as possible. The new catchwords reflect modern language and the current state of the law.
Each catchword set has been drafted by a reporter, tipstaff or other legal professional, before being reviewed by an expert in the field. The catchwords are updated on an ongoing basis to keep pace with developments in case law and legislation.
The new NSW catchwords have now been adopted by the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory. In the interests of harmonisation, we look forward to working with other jurisdictions interested in adapting the catchwords for their own use.
Thanks to our volunteers
We have been fortunate in working with volunteers of a very high calibre from across the profession, including judges, senior counsel, leading authors, academics, law firm partners and court personnel. We are enormously grateful to these wonderful volunteers who have generously lent their time and expertise to the catchwords project.
We are also grateful to the Supreme Court of New South Wales, which has worked with us to develop and implement the new catchwords.
The Kercher Reports – 1788 to 1827
Using sources such as the Sydney Gazette and manuscripts held by State Records NSW, Macquarie University’s Professor Bruce Kercher and his colleague Brent Salter have prepared a volume of law reports from the first days of the NSW colony to the Dowling period.
The Kercher Reports were published in 2010 by Federation Press for the Francis Forbes Society for Australian Legal History with the assistance of the Council of Law Reporting for NSW. The Kercher Reports were published in 2010 by Federation Press for the Francis Forbes Society for Australian Legal History with the assistance of the Council and comprise the second volume in the series of law reports known as New South Wales Select Cases. The first volume was Dowling’s Select Cases 1828-1844.
Dowling’s Select Cases 1828-1844
James Dowling, a barrister and accomplished law reporter from England, took up an appointment as a judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales in 1828. He left nine notebooks containing reports of 465 cases decided during the sixteen years that he served as a judge of the Court and as the colony’s second Chief Justice.
Dowling’s reports, edited by TD Castle and Professor Kercher as Dowling’s Select Cases 1828-1844, were published in 2005 by the Francis Forbes Society for Australian Legal History with the assistance of the Council, Macquarie University, the NSW Bar Association and the Maitland Fund.