Fortunately, the Supreme Court has a Practice Direction on this very topic!

Practice Direction No. 16 of 2013 emphasises the importance of case authorities that are limited to those which are most apt to materially assist the court in resolving the dispute.

The Practice Direction is a practical reminder to only cite cases  ‘which are necessary to establish the principles or propositions which are relied upon.’   The practice of including a long list of cases that ‘merely rephrase, illustrate or apply those principles or propositions’ in a way that does not materially assist the Court in resolving the matters in dispute’ should be avoided.

In other words, the ‘less is more’ principle applies: Sick to the leading and binding authorities that support the legal principle you are relying upon and don’t footnote endless different cases that really say the same thing. From a practical perspective, don’t forget that each time you cite a case, the Judge might feel expected to read it so be selective. It’s also likely that the same case has already been quoted to the Judge that month so you won’t win any favour by handing up 3 copies of the 15 cases you found in a footnote in your first year contract textbook.

Source:; Surrey County Council News

If a leading case has been helpfully summarised by a Judge in a recent decision point this out after the citation of the leading authority, for example:

Penfolds Wines Pty Ltd v Elliott (1946) 74 CLR 204, most recently applied by this Court in Aklia Holdings P/L v Carter Group Pty Ltd (In Liq) & Ors [2017] QSC 075, [21].

The paragraph number of the passage from the judgment should be given.  This of course, assumes that you have actually read the passage and are not just quoting from a textbook!

Of course, the Court should be told if a case has been  doubted, or not followed.

The Practice Direction also sets out which are authorised reports, which are preferred rather than any web printout or unauthorised version. For consistency, I also suggest using the Australian Guide to Legal Citation.

So if you’re ever in doubt as to whether you should include a case in an assignment or your submissions, it is always helpful to refer back to the direct words of the Supreme Court for guidance.

The full practice direction can be found here –

Prepared by Janelle Payne and Georgie Bills