Australia’s top precedent cases identified


A new study has identified the most frequently cited precedents in Australian law. Unsurprisingly, “[t]he top ten positions are occupied by High Court decisions.”

The number one decision, “significantly cited by over 1,200 later judgments”, was House v The King, a 1936 decision about when an appeal should be allowed. It established that “a result should be reviewed by an appellate court if a judge acts upon a wrong principle, allows extraneous or irrelevant matters to guide or affect them, mistakes the facts or does not take into account some material consideration”, or “if the original judgement is ‘unreasonable or plainly unjust'”.

The results were determined by the team behind the case citator FirstPoint. A case citator is a tool that tracks the connections between legal precedents, such as when they are applied, distinguished or overturned. This allows lawyers and judges to identify relevant precedents and determine whether they are binding or persuasive.