English case reporting can be divided into two primary periods: pre-1865 and since 1865. This is because until 1865 there was no officially sanctioned reporter for English cases. Commercial reporters published their own series, many of which consisted of only a few volumes, and which varied greatly in quality.
Our Legal History Research Guide will help you find earlier case reports, beginning in the Middle Ages.
Note that citations to series of the Law Reports refer only to the series abbreviation, and do not indicate that the series is a part of the Law Reports. Please consult the Bluebook, Table T.2, for further citation information.
To update cases on Westlaw and get information similar to the information you would get in KeyCite, you have a couple of options. You can search for the case in the UK-CASELOC database, or, if you're already viewing a case, click on the blue "History" link at the top or the "Links for" tab in the left column. These features are only available for cases in reporters that are included in Westlaw databases.
Lexis does not have a comparable feature to Shepard's for English cases. You can, however, search in the case databases listed above using the name of the parties to find other cases that refer to your case.
A similar print publication to Shepard's for English cases is the Current Law Case Citator, which traces the subsequent history and treatment of cases since 1947 (note: Tarlton has 1947-2002). For cases prior to 1947, use The Digest.
For further detail on using print citators, see Stephen E. Young, Shepardizing English Law, 90 Law Libr. J. 209 (1998).
In 1865, the Incorporated Council of Law Reporting was formed and tasked with producing a quasi-official version of English case reports, the Law Reports. There were originally eleven series of the law reports, but due to court reorganization there are now four series: Appeal Cases, Queen's Bench Division, Chancery Division and Family Division.
The four current series of the Law Reports are:
Below you will find a simple chart showing the evolution of the Law Reports from an eleven series set to a four series set.
For a more detailed look at the evolution of the Law Reports, along with links to the catalog records of Tarlton's holdings, please see the PDF file linked below.
Weekly Law Reports (1953-present) -- also published by the Incorporated Council of Law Reporting, Weekly Law Reports are a companion series to the Law Reports, started in 1953. Published weekly 46 times a year, Weekly Law Reports have cases from the superior and appellate courts, and could be considered as the advance sheets for the Law Reports. Each year is divided into 3 volumes: volume 1 has cases that do not warrant inclusion in the Law Reports, while volumes 2 and 3 have cases that will later be published in the Law Reports.
All England Law Reports (1936-46; 1947; 1948-present) -- this set is a commercially produced alternative to the "official" Law Reports. It is an annotated set, with cross-references to other All England cases and Legislation. Case reports include headnotes and keywords, and cover the House of Lords, both divisions of the Court of Appeal, and all divisions of the High Court of Justice.
In addition to the general series of law reports, there are commercially published reporters covering cases in a specific area. Some examples are:
English Reports (1571-1865) -- Around 1570, collections of law reports published privately by individuals began to appear. These reports were usually referred to by the name of the reporter or compiler, and for that reason are known collectively as nominate reports. Most of the nominate reports are found reprinted in the English Reports.