The Council of Law Reporting in Victoria (the Council) manages the selection and reporting of significant judgments of the Supreme Court of Victoria in the long-standing and highly respected publication, the Victorian Reports (the Reports).
Except for the purpose of news reporting, the Council has exclusive rights to the publication of the judicial decisions of Victorian courts.
The Council aims to disseminate the Reports as widely as possible at the lowest possible cost, potentially lowering the costs of access to justice.
The Council is a statutory corporation operating under the Council of Law Reporting in Victoria Act 1967 (the Act). The Council is funded by royalties and other fees paid by publishers.
The Council first published the ‘Victorian Law Reports’ in 1875. Since 1957 the series has been known as the ‘Victorian Reports’.
Managing the Reports is the primary activity for the Council. However, regular requests for re-publication of excerpts of Court decisions in legal texts and other publications are also made to the Council. Requests of this nature should be directed to [email protected].
The Council appoints a publisher to publish the Reports and nominates an Editor.
The Editor selects decisions of the Supreme Court for publication in the Reports. The selection process is undertaken independently of the Court or the Council itself.
Many legal professionals rely on the Reports to stay current. The activity of browsing and reading the Reports contributes to continuous professional development. Two features in particular make the Reports valuable: the first is the selection of cases, which signals to practitioners and others that a case is of likely significance; the second is the headnote which is a digest of the decision. The headnotes are considered a key part of the Reports.
The selection criteria applied by the Editor are reasonably complex but include identifying decisions that:
In a typical year, approximately 10% of decisions from the Supreme Court are selected for inclusion in the Reports, the vast majority of which are decisions of the Court of Appeal.
Once selected by the Editor, a Reporter is assigned to create a headnote that summarises the key elements of the decision, and to develop catchwords that tag the decision by reference to searchable topic categories. The Publisher checks the text of the decision for any grammatical errors and for style consistency. The decision is then returned, along with the headnote, to the appropriate judge who checks for any errors that may have gone undetected at the stage of original publication of the decision, makes any appropriate modifications to the headnote and approves the final version for publication.
Supreme Court of Victoria Practice Note SC GEN 3 Authorities and Legislation states that, where one exists, the authorised report of a judgment (Victorian or otherwise) must be cited and handed up in court in preference to any other version. This is to ensure that the most accurate version of the decision is available to the court.