This page describes in detail how to use the Citator to find the case-relationships that you are looking for. If you would like a quick how-to, we recommend first watching the video. First, you should decide whether you are looking for a paticular case that you know the name or citation for, or whether you are looking for case law on a particular topic.
- If you already know the name or medium neutral citation of a case that you are looking for, then select the "CASE NAME" or "MNC" tickbox option on the home page. Then enter the case name, or MNC, into the search box.
- If you are looking for case law on a topic, choose the "KEYWORD" checkbox. Note that this checkbox is selected by default.
Next, you may optionally add filtering by year and/or by jurisdiction.
- In order to filter by year, select the earliest year that you would like results for in the "FROM" year dropdown. Select the latest year that you would like results for in the "TO" year dropdown.
- In order to filter by jurisdiction, select the jurisdictions that you would like results for in the "AFRICAN JURISDICTION" dropdown box. You can select one or many jurisdictions at once. You can also select all jurisdictions within a region by choosing a region checkbox. Once you have selected the regions that you would like to receive results for, click on "OKAY". Note that, by default, if you do not select any jurisdictions, then you will receive results from all jurisdictions in our database.
Next, click on "Search"
You will now be on the results page. At the top of the results page, you will see the same search bar and filters as before. If you would like to perform a new search, you can do so from here, without having to navigate back to the home page. Below the search bar and filters, you will see your case results. Note that you can scroll down through these results by hovering over the results and using the mouse wheel. The top of each result box will contain the following information:
- The name of the case
- Metadata, including the year that the case was decided in, the jurisdiction and court that the case was decided in, and the medium neutral citation.
Below the metadata, you will see an automatically generated flynote. The flynote consists of two components:
- Key phrases. These are words and phrases that have occured frequently in the judgment, and will give you an indication of what topics the case covers.
- Key sentences. These are sentences that that cover the key topics of the judgment. They are selected using a machine learning algorithm that looks for sentences that are most representative of the topics in the judgment. This is our first iteration of this algorithm, and we expect it's usefulness to grow significantly over time; but already they should be able to provide some guidence into what the case is about. Once the sentences are chosen by the algorithm, they are shown as they appeared in the judgment.
Below the flynote, you may see a button reading "Show citations". This will appear if our citator has found references to other cases inside the judgment (cases referred to), or if the citator has found a reference to this judgment in another decision (referred to in). This is a beta release of the citator algorithm. Over time, it will be able to more accurately identify all citations in a judgment. Click on "show citations" to view that cases referred to and referred to in. Two buttons appear next to "show citations":
- "View on Graph": This button will provide a visual representation of the citations to and from this judgment. This is explained further below.
- "View full case": This button will open up the full judgment in a new tab, shown at the respective Legal Information Institute website.
View on graph
Click on "view on graph". You will see a graph appear in the window to the right of the case results. This graph represents our case, which has a circle around it, and the cases that are related to out case. The arrows point from the earlier judgment to the later one that cited it. Put differently, they show the direction of movement of the precedent. The size of the circles represents how influential that decision has been. Click on a circle to see which case it represents. You can also re-center the whole graph on this case by clicking "view on graph" after selecting a decision on the graph.
We can further increase the depth of the graph to show more distantly related judgments. Finally, we can highlight the cases on the graph, so that cases that were heard in the same court are shown in the same colour.