A Century of Citation Practice on the Supreme Court of Victoria
77 Pages Posted: 20 Jun 2007
Date Written: June 18, 2007
Examination of citations contained in the written record of judicial decisions provides useful insights into the evolution of the jurisprudence and policy formation of particular courts and of the judges who make significant contributions to those courts. It also sheds light on the process of judicial innovation and on communication patterns between courts. While there are several studies of the citation practices of courts in Canada and the United States, there are few such studies for Australian courts. The present paper examines the citation practice of the Supreme Court of Victoria, the highest court in Australia's second largest state, over the century 1905-2005 at ten year intervals. It employs the McCormick taxonomy of citations which distinguishes between consistency, hierarchical, coordinate and deference citations within the judicial system and tracks also citations to secondary authorities. Major findings of the study are that the length of judgments and the number of authorities cited by the Court have increased over time, and that consistency and hierarchical citations are the dominant form of allusion to prior authority. While these findings relate to only a single court, the Supreme Court of Victoria is an important intermediate appellate court within the Australian court hierarchy and, as such, the results are of relevance to those interested in the workings of other Australian state supreme courts and, indeed, intermediate appellate courts in general.
Keywords: judicial citations, intermediate appellate court, Australia
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation