CaseBase Signals & Annotations

The CaseBase ‘signal’ is a small round colour-coded graphic which usually appears before a case name. It represents the overall treatment of a case, with the colour and symbol indicating whether the case decision has received positive, negative, cautionary or neutral treatment in subsequent judgments.

When an annotation is added to CaseBase, an algorithm runs to update the CaseBase signal for that judgment, to include the additional data. The algorithm takes into account factors like court hierarchy, judgment date, and relationship between the citing and cited case.

The signal applies to the judgment as a whole. Since any judgment can deal with multiple issues and arguments, a string of negative mentions of one aspect of the judgment will result in a negative (or cautionary) signal for the whole judgment, even though other aspects of the judgment remain good law and continue to be treated positively.

The signal algorithm skews ‘negative’ as the purpose of the CaseBase signal is to alert a user when there may be some issue that requires further investigation before they rely on that case.

Note: Not every case has a CaseBase Signal.
SignalSummaryExplanation
Negative Treatment IndicatorNegative treatmentWarning – Negative treatment indicated. A negative (red) signal is given to decisions which have been subsequently reversed, disapproved or overruled.
Cautionary Treatment IndicatorCautionary treatmentCaution – Questioning or distinguishing treatment indicated. A cautionary (yellow) signal is given to decisions which have been subsequently distinguished, explained, not followed, questioned or varied.
Positive Treatment IndicatorPositive treatmentPositive treatment indicated. A positive (green) signal is given to decisions which have been subsequently applied, approved, followed or affirmed.
Neutral Treatment IndicatorNeutral treatmentNeutral or citing treatment indicated. A neutral signal is given to decisions which been either considered or cited (also 'referred to' or 'discussed').
Citation Information IndicatorCitation informationLink to CaseBase entry. A citation information signal is given to decisions for which there is only citation information available.

Annotations

CaseBase has a team of legally trained editors reading judgments and assessing the nature of the relationships between judgments. This assessment results in the assignment of ‘Annotations’ to cases within tables in CaseBase.

An annotation is a colour-coded rectangular tile which appears below the case name and parallel citations in a CaseBase table. It tells the user about the tone of the discussion of one judgment by another.

Each entry in the Annotation column indicates how the corresponding case was treated. The lists below describe the annotations that can appear in this column and their meanings.

Annotations in ‘Cases referring to this case’ tables and ‘Cases considered by this case’ tables

Following is a list of possible annotations and their descriptions.

ValueDescription
AppliedA principle of law articulated in the primary case is applied to a new set of facts by the court in the subsequent case.
ApprovedThe court in the subsequent case has approved the way the court in the primary case, being a court of inferior jurisdiction, has articulated a principle of law.
CitedThe primary case is merely cited by the court in the subsequent case, without comment.
ConsideredThe legal principles articulated in the primary case are considered or discussed without adverse reflection in the subsequent case.
DisapprovedThe decision in the primary case is criticised by the court in the subsequent case.
DistinguishedThe court in the subsequent case holds that the legal principles articulated by the primary case (usually otherwise persuasive or binding authority) do not apply because of some essential difference between the two cases in fact or law.
ExplainedThe decision reached in the primary case is justified by the court in the subsequent case, drawing attention to some feature of the primary case that may not be immediately obvious on its face.
FollowedThis annotation is similar to "applied" but is used in circumstances where the facts in the primary case resemble reasonably closely the facts in the subsequent consideration case.
Not followedThe court in the subsequent case has declined to apply the principles of law articulated in the primary case.
OverruledThe legal principles articulated in the primary case are held to be incorrect by the court in the subsequent case, which is a court of superior or equivalent jurisdiction.
QuestionedThe court in the subsequent case has expressed doubt about the decision in the primary case but does not actually determine that the principles of law in the primary case are incorrect.

Annotations in ‘Litigation History’ tables

Following is a list of possible annotations and their descriptions.

ValueDescription
AffirmedThe decision in the primary case is upheld on appeal or the primary case itself has affirmed an earlier decision.
ReversedThe decision in the primary case is overturned on appeal or the primary case itself has overturned an earlier decision.
VariedThe decision in the primary case is only partly reversed or partly affirmed by the subsequent case, or the primary case itself has partly reversed or partly affirmed an earlier decision.
RelatedThe decision in the subsequent or earlier case relates in some way to the primary case, but the court in the primary case is not assessing the merits of the related decision.
Special Leave GrantedSpecial leave to appeal the decision in the primary case to the High Court or Privy Council has been granted or the primary case is a decision granting special leave to appeal against an earlier decision.
Special Leave RefusedSpecial leave to appeal the decision in the primary case to the High Court or Privy Council has been refused or the primary case is a decision refusing special leave to appeal against an earlier decision.
Note: Different principles in the primary case may be treated differently in the subsequent case, so that combinations such as Applied/Distinguished are possible (indicating that one principle was applied and another distinguished).

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