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Research Support Guide for Law Postgraduate Students and Academic Staff

Research support assistance and useful library resources for Postgraduate students and Academic Staff

Click on the Image to Access My LexisNexis


Databases - Online Courses, Classes, Training, Tutorials on Lynda

A wide range of databases are available to you at the University and the databases you select will be determined by your research topic.

For example, in addition to the legal databases, you may need to use materials from other disciplines such as business, politics, or sociology.  You may also need to focus on specific materials such as new sources, official publications, or statistics. 

You can find out more about research databases and begin selecting and searching databases for relevant content.

Searching My LexisNexis Database

LexisNexis is a digital platform providing all-in-one access to legislation, commentary, law reports, and more. The platform provides an intelligent way of searching and accessing relevant information that is always up to date.

Users can access major law reference works, indexes, law reports, individual acts, statutes, practitioners’ manuals, and textbooks.

Subjects include labour law, financial planning, and markets, income tax (includes Silke on South African Income Tax), intellectual property, payroll, pension funds, taxation of employees and VAT.

  • The EZproxy system will ask you to identify yourself as a UWC student.
  • It will ask you for a username and password i.e. student number and ID number for South Africans.
  • Foreign students can use their date of birth as a password. Date of birth starting with the year, then the month, and last the day.
  • If your month or day is a single digit, you must add a 0 in front e.g. January = 0


  1. You Go to the library’s homepage and click on the Databases tab in the middle of the page. You can either select A-Z Databases or Databases by Discipline.
  2. Then click on the A-Z Databases and select 'M' for My LexisNexis.
  3. If you scroll down you will see on the left-hand side My LexisNexis, click on the link. 
  4. When logged in for the first-time you have to register with your name, surname and student email address.


The interface streamlines access to frequently used features. On the left, you will notice the Research Areas and Content Types. The Table of Contents appears in drop-down lists in the same tab.

A few more things to note on the home screen – the History button is located next to My Downloads, below the Search Bar. The More drop-down menu houses access to the Mobi Site, Feedback, Profile Information and sign-out options in one convenient location. The Support link provides details on training and online support available.

The General Search functionality is at the top menu bar and incorporates the Country Selector and content Pre-filter. These options can be used if you wish to narrow your search to a specific country or content type. Advanced Search includes Advanced Search and Legal Citator options under one convenient link.


Watch the Video of LexisNexis New Look

There are three ways to search the content:

1. By searching the Table of Contents on the left-hand side of the screen;

2. Using the General Text Search field at the top of the screen; and

3. Using the Advanced Search and Citator to conduct an Advanced, Law Report, Legislation, and Gazettes Search.


  • The Table of Contents contains all the resources that we subscribed to in a condensed alphabetical list. It has several useful features that will assist you when using other functions on the site. It is arranged by country with South Africa first. Click on the red down arrows next to South Africa to access the content.
  • The left-hand column reflects all the categories of publications (called Content types) for South Africa. Click on the red arrows next to categories to see what is available in each category.
  • The commentary contains all the ebooks available. This category is subdivided by topic area.
  • Clicking on the red Table of Contents button in the middle of the screen will either collapse or expand the Table of contents.  
  • You can also increase the width of the Table of Contents by dragging its associated scrollbar horizontally across the screen.
  • In the Table of Content, you can either select the Research Areas or the Content Types.
  • In the Research Areas, the content is group together as per subject. For this tutorial, we will be working in the Content Types area.
  • Also, a useful feature available on the table of contents is the refresh or close any open titles by using the refresh button verse restores the table of contents to its original state. A useful feature when you're scrolling up and down when you have many titles open.
  • Search list is a simple way to search for a title. Simply type in the name of the title and the system will search in located within the table of contents, for example, type in Henochsberg and the result appears. Now click on the red arrows to drill down to locate the title. Notice the pathway shows South-Africa, commentary, corporate and commercial and then lists the three in Henochsberg titles. Clear the search list by clicking on the X.

  • When you use the General Search in the top menu bar (ie. not the ToC search) you are able to limit your search to particular publications or portions of publications by ticking the boxes that appear next to them in the ToC. For example, if you are searching for a topic in a particular textbook you would tick the box next to that textbook and then enter the topic into the search field. 


  • Once you have made a selection, you can change what you have selected by clicking on the tick box again to remove that item from the selection, or you can select “clear” at the top of the ToC to remove all selections.
  • From the ToC you can also download documents that you have selected by clicking the save icon (the computer disk icon) within the ToC. This can be in either .pdf or .rtf formats.
  • You can also email your selection from the ToC by clicking the envelope icon.
  • View selection is a tool that gives you the ability to create customised documents from any documents in the ToC. It takes all the documents which you have selected and joins them together into one, which you can then download, print, or email.

Creating Folders

Within My Workspace, you can create personal research folders in which you can save documents from LexisNexis.

The advantage of doing this, in comparison to downloading to your computer, is that any information saved in this way is automatically updated in LexisNexis thus ensuring that should the information change it is always available to you in its most current form.

Create a Research Folder

1. Click on the Folders button. Then click on the Create button and type a name for your client (replacing the “New Client” text), and press Enter.

2. Click on the down arrow next to the newly created client and click on Folders. Click Create, type a name for the folder, and press Enter.


2. Click on the down arrow next to the newly created client and click on Folders. Click Create, type a name for the folder, and press Enter.


Save Document to a Folder

Click on the folder drop-down in the toolbar and then click Save document to the Client folder.

This will open the Save document reference to a client folder window.

Type in a recognisable Title, choose the Client, select a Folder, and click on the Save button.


To access the document again, just click on Folders and choose the relevant folder and document. Should you want to delete the saved document from the folder at any stage, click on the red X that appears to the right of the document name.


Adding Annotations

Notes allow you to add annotations to documents and save them for viewing later. When you want to make a note in a document that you are viewing, highlight that portion, once you release the mouse button four options will appear: NoteHighlightSearch, and Definition.

Once you have highlighted your selection, click Note and enter the annotation that you want to add in the text box that appears, then click Save. You can also select a colour to be applied to your highlighted selection from those that appear in the bottom left corner of the text box.


To view the note later you just have to hover over the highlighted text to view, edit or remove your note.

Notes and highlights are also saved for viewing from the Notes button in the taskbar at the top of the screen.

The remaining options that appear when you highlight text in a document are:

• Search which will run a general text search for the words that you have selected

• Definition which provides you with the dictionary meaning of the word or phrase selected.


My Downloads

My Downloads keeps a record of all the documents that you have downloaded for a short period of time so that you can download them again should you need to.

The General Text search field allows you to create your own search terms using search operators. Just click on the question mark to open the table which explains the various operators. A search operator allows you to specify to the search engine exactly what results you want from a search, rather than just inputting keywords.


To limit your search to particular products or publications select one or more of the tick boxes next to the item that you want to obtain results from in the Table of Contents.
You should try and limit your search by selecting sources from the ToC that are likely to contain information that will be useful to your research.


Advanced Searches

  • Clicking on “Advanced Search and Citator” will give you two search options that you can utilise, namely Advanced Search and Legal Citator. 
  • All Content
  • These tabs each open a search form focusing on one particular area of Lexis Library. In addition to providing fields specific to searching in one area of information, the search forms also have an area to add more general criteria to your search.
  • Each field will do something different with the information that you input, either looking for an exact match, excluding certain words and so on.
  • The first tab is the All Content search tab.


The available options are:

  • Containing all of these words – this will find documents that have all the words you enter in the field, note that they will not be in any specific order, this search just checks if the words are in the document.
  • Not containing any of these words – allows you to exclude particular terms from your search.
  • Containing one or more of these words – similar to “containing all of these words”, this search will return documents that have at least one of the words you are searching for in them.
  • Containing this exact phrase – if you want an exact match to a phrase, eg “reckless credit” you can enter it into this field and the search will return results containing that exact phrase.
  • Containing these words near each other – if you are looking for a particular sentence structure, or concepts that you think would appear near to one another in a document then this field will be useful to you. For example, you are looking for documents describing consequential and direct damages, these may not appear as a complete phrase but may be in close proximity to each other. This field will assist you to find this kind of term.
  • You can also select the checkbox to Honour word order within the results, and/or set a limit for the Word proximity.


The second tab is the Cases tab. This tab allows you to search within Law Reports. In addition to the fields below, you can narrow your search by selecting and deselecting the Law Reports to the left, as well as by using the advanced search fields below the Case-specific fields.

The available options are:

  • Case Name – this is where you’ll type the name of the case in question, for example, Bretenbach v Oberholzer.
  • Citation – fill in the case citation, for example [2009] 2 All SA 293 (D).
  • Keyword/s – add in any keywords to help narrow your results.
  • Division – this is the court division where the case was heard, for example, the High Court.
  • Judge – the judge that presided over the case in question.
  • Case Year – the year that the judgment for the case was passed.
  • Case Number – add in the case number, if known.



The Legislation search tab allows you to search for specific legislation. You can further narrow your search by using the options to the right, or by using the advanced search fields below the Legislation-specific fields.

The available options are:

  • Act Name – the name of the act goes here, for example, Children’s Act.
  • Act Number – the number and year of the act are added here, for example, 27 of 2005.
  • Section Number – if you’re looking for a specific section of the legislation, add it here.
  • Definitions – search by using specific definitions of an act by adding that information here.



The Gazettes search tab allows you to search for gazettes. You can further narrow your search by using the options to the right, or by using the advanced search fields below the Gazette-specific fields.

The available options are:

  • Gazette Number – The number of the gazette you’re looking for, eg. 43011.
  • Title/Name – The name of the gazette.
  • Restrict Title/Name search to - Select from the options here to restrict the Title/Name search to these specific areas.
  • Number – This field searches – for a number within the gazette content and is different from the gazette number above.
  • Restrict Number search to – Use these options to restrict the number search to specific criteria.
  • Gazette Date Range – Select the Start and/or End Date range within which the gazette was published.


Search Results

  • The results screen will show the number of hits/results, the title of the case, its location in the Table of Contents, and excerpts from the case that contain the word searched for.
  • Clicking on the name of the case, which is hyperlinked, will take you to the first page of the case.
  • There are a number of options available to help make browsing the results easier.
  • Search within results – enter additional keywords to isolate results containing both the initial search term and the additional words.
  • Select how many results to display on each page.
  • Scroll through the pages of results using the Next or Previous page buttons.
  • The filter options panel to the left allows you to filter your results using specific criteria. Simply expand each of the options and then select the filters to apply to your results. You can remove a filter at a later stage by clicking on the X to the right of that filter, under Applied filters.
  • You can select specific results in order to perform additional functions. Namely:
  • Download or Save selected items to a Folder.
  • Email selected items.
  • View Selection.


  • Click on advanced search and then advanced search to access one convenient search form with several options.

  • A law reports publication for South Africa is listed under the heading Cases.
  • Then select Cases at the top of the screen.
  • Once cases are selected it is automatically underlined in red to show you where you are to the right of the form.
  • You can select and deselect the specific law report series you'd like to search from.
  • You can search using case name, citation, keywords, court division, judge, case, year, and case number depending on the information you have available to you.
  • Should you only have topics or keywords then scroll down and complete any of the fields as shown.
  • Once complete click the search button to the bottom right and this will run your search through the database.



Example of Searching a Case

Here is an example using the case name: Gaertner and Others v Minister of Finance and Others.

  • Click the search button to the bottom right.

  • There are two search results that have been found.
  • Notice the green signal indicator that shows the cases set a precedent.

  • Several search filters appear on the left of this results page that assists to narrow the search results.
  • Relevance or chronological will rearrange the results by the number of hits or by the date order.
  • When select chronological the latest case moves to the top of the list.
  • The second case listed has been heard at the Western Cape High Court and the citation is per the print law report series.
  • Click on the result to view the screen automatically splits case law on the left and legal citation analysis to the right.
  • If the case law is the same as in the print publications’, the legal site header screen repeats the signal indicator and the analysis contains headings such as judgment details subject index, and judgment treatment.
  • Click on each heading to view the content notice.
  • The icons at the top of the screen the document options drop-down list have saved document to client folder, download current selection, with a choice of either word or PDF format and print document alongside is the envelope icon which is the email option that allows you to email either a word or a PDF file.


Searching for a case using the Table of Contents

  • Searching using the Table of Contents (please note that although this example is provided specifically within a search for Law Reports, the method for navigating the website is the same for all content types).
  •  Under Table of Contents, you can either click on the plus sign next to the item of your choice which will expand the list that sits under that heading within the ToC, or you can click on the actual word in the ToC which will both expand the list in the ToC and open it in your workspace.
  • For this example, we’ll be locating Abahlali baseMjondolo Movement SA and another v Premier of KwaZulu-Natal and others [2009] 2 All SA 293 (D).
  1. In the Table of Contents, scroll down until you find Cases and expand the node.
  2. Expand the All South African Law Reports node.
  3. Click on 1996 to 2016. This will open three items: Consolidated Indexes, Law Reports and Advance Law reports. The Law Reports link contains a chronological listing of cases.
  4. Click on Consolidated indexes.
  5. Click on Cases Reported. This will open an alphabetical list of cases.
  6. Click on A.
  7. Select the hyperlinked citation of Abahlali baseMjondolo Movement SA and another v Premier of KwaZulu-Natal and others [2009] 2 All SA 293 (D). This will take you to the reported judgment.



Further Options to Analyse a Case

If you are looking for more information to analyse a case you can expand the dual-view display by selecting the << icon. You can also collapse the dual view completely and just view the resource without the Legal Citator by clicking on the X icon on the far right of the Legal Citator. Clicking on CiteIt will restore the dual-view display. This allows you to access the judgment analysis page for the case or other resource you are dealing with within the Legal Citator.


Legal Citator

The Legal Citator is a tool unique to LexisNexis which allows you to view several aspects of a case in one place.

    • The Legal Citator is accessible in the dual-view display when you view a resource associated with the Legal Citator (eg. law reports or legislation).
    • Find cases using case names, case numbers, citations, judge names, etc.
    • Find cases that have dealt with specified Acts.
    • Find cases that have dealt with specified subjects.



Judgment Analysis

Once you have located a case that you want to view, you will reach the judgment analysis screen which contains various drop-down menu options.

  • Judgment Details provides you with a summary of a specific aspect of the case, the dates of hearing and judgment, bench (the number of judges and whether there was a minority decision), the identities of the parties and the representatives appearing for the parties, the division and jurisdiction of the court hearing the matter.
  • Subject Index indicates the subject matter the court dealt with.
  • Judgment History allows you to see if a case has been taken on appeal and what the result was. It also allows you to see if there was more than one appeal and so gives you the entire appellate history. Please bear in mind that for a case to appear in the Legal Citator at all it must have been published in one of the law reports series canvassed. Thus, for example, only the Case History as published in the law reports will reflect in the Case History.
  • Judgment Treatment is a list of all the cases that were heard after this case and that have discussed the case in their judgments. Each of these cases will have a signal next to them, indicating what their treatment of the current case was. This particular case has a neutral blue signal, indicating that it has been referenced by at least one other court but has neither been approved or overruled. If you want to see whether the case that has referenced the case you are looking at is itself a strong case, you can view its treatment by clicking View Underpinnings; this will tell you how much weight to give that case’s view of your case.
  • Judgments Cited by Court provides a list of the cases which the court referenced, with signals and editorial assignments indicating the type and strength of reference.
  • Acts, Ordinances & By-Laws provides a list of the legislative instruments which the court referenced.
  • Rules provide a list of the rules to which the court made reference to.
  • Regulations provide a list of the regulations to which the court made reference to.


Watch the Video on How to Search for Case Law

Finding Legislation

To find legislation you have two options, using the table of contents or searching via the Legislation search form.

This form allows you to search for an Act by its name or number. You can filter the results that you get by selecting the tick boxes next to the sources that you want to get results from (under National Legislation and Regional Legislation).

Finding Legislation in the ToC

  • The legislation is located under three separate headings in the ToC, depending on the legislative authority which enacted it (being National, this is legislation enacted by the National Parliament, Regional, that which is enacted by the Provincial legislatures and Local government that which is enacted by municipal councils).
  • National Legislation can be found either under the Indexes, which are both chronological and alphabetical or under Principal Acts and Regulations which is alphabetical and allows you to move right down to an individual section of an act within the ToC.
  • Regional legislation is sub-divided between the various provinces and then into indexes, Acts, Ordinances, and Regulations.


Example using the ToC

1. Click on National Legislation.

2. Select Indexes, which contains a chronological and alphabetical table of statutes.

3. Select the Alphabetical Table of Statutes (which provides both repealed and current statutes which allows you to view the history of the legislation).

4. Click on the letter F.

5. Select Act Number and year [28 of 1918] of the Factories Act. The pop-up shows the repealed Act with a link to the Act that replaced it, you can continue selecting the link until a blue link appears, this shows the current Act.

When an Act is displayed in your Workspace, you have additional viewing options

1. You can receive e-mail alerts when the Act is updated. Click on Receive Alerts.

2. Synchronise the Act with the Table of Contents. Click on Sync Contents.

3. View content that is related in some way to the Act. Click on Related Content.

4. You can also view the entire Act, rather than just individual sections if you click either View Full PDF or View Full RTF.

Watch the Video on How to Search for Legislation

Legal Citator

Image result for legal citator lexisnexis


A Citator is a tool that allows you to track the history of your case and the treatment of your case by subsequent courts.  Citators allow you to determine if your case is still good law and it acts as a research tool allowing you to find other cases (and other secondary materials) which cited your case.

When you shepardizing/keycited S. v. Grabowski.  S. v. Grabowski is the cited reference.  All the cases that have cited S. v. Grabowski are the citing references.  In the lingo, your case is the “cited reference” and the cases which mention it are the “citing references.”  Grabowski = the ‘cited reference.’  Other materials that cite ‘Grabowski’ are the citing references.  

Citators are used for a number of reasons.  One reason is to find a case or statute's direct history. With cases, one can find prior and subsequent history.  With statutes, one can find whether the statute was amended or if there is pending legislation, for example.  Another reason to use a citator is to identify negative treatment (such as if the case has been overruled) or to find positive treatment (such as another case that agrees with the analysis of your case).  Citators can also be used to find additional primary and secondary sources.  Finally, there are practical and ethical considerations.  Lawyers must be thorough and prepared, and part of that involves making sure that the cases or statutes cited are still good law and can be used as precedent.

The major online citator is Legal Citator through LexisNexis. Online citators provide a legal researcher with information on how a particular case, legal issue in a case, statute or regulation has been treated by the courts or the legislator or cited in secondary sources.

The citator in LexisNexis are both:

A . Validation Tool: The citator determines what happened to your case, statute, or regulation after it was released. (has it been reversed on appeal?  been overruled?  been treated negatively by a subsequent court?)

B. Research Tool: The citator provides a reference to secondary sources and citing cases.

“The process of “Shepardizing” a case is fundamental to legal research and can be completed in a manner of minutes, especially when done with the aid of a computer. “ Medowbrook , LLC v. Flower and Pelton,, 959 P.2d 115, 120, 343 Utah Adv. Rep. 27 (1998)

You use a citator at the beginning of your research to find other cases and secondary sources that cite to your case and at the end of your research to make sure your case is still good law.  To ascertain if your case is still good law, you are looking at the ‘Direct History’ of the case.  If you have a case on point, what would you like to know about it?  Whether that case was affirmed, reversed, or modified on appeal.  When you are looking at the ‘Direct History,’ you can also find out the prior history of the case, what happened to the case in a lower court.

The ‘Indirect history’ of the case is how other courts have treated your case.  While the action of subsequent courts in distinguishing the holding of the original case will not affect the holding as it applies to the original parties, it can affect whether or not you can use the case to support your argument.  Indirect history is also a research tool, to find other material on your topic: law reviews, treatises, Attorney General Opinions, and other secondary sources.  At the beginning of your research process use the citator to find other cases and secondary material that cite your case.  

So, when should you use a citator?  You use a citator at the beginning of your research to find other resources discussing your case.  You use a citator at the end of your research to ensure that your case is still good law.


Prior History:  What was going on with your case before it was decided.

Subsequent History:  What has happened to your case since it was decided.

Citing Decisions:  Cases that have cited your case.

Table of Authorities:  List of cases cited by your case.


The source you are citing may also be called:

  •      the original case
  •      the cited case

The results that you get when you run a cited source through a citator may also be called:

  •      citing cases
  •      citing references
  •      citing documents

The Table of Authorities lists each document cited by your case.  When a judge writes an opinion, they will cite other cases.  The table of authorities is a list of those cases.    The Table of Authorities can help you find hidden weaknesses in the cited case by showing whether the citing cases on which the cited case relies have a significant negative history.

If a case, statute, or regulation is still good law, the citators will also often provide the researcher with current awareness features.

A case can be

  • Reversed by a higher court.
  • Overruled at a later date.
  • Superseded by a statute.
  • Criticized without being overruled.
  • Cited favourably by other courts, thereby strengthening its authority

A statute can be:

  • Superseded by a newer statute
  • Declared unconstitutional
  • Criticized by a court
  • Treated favorably  by a court

You can:

  • Determine the validity of a case (has it been reversed on appeal?  been overruled?  been treated negatively by a subsequent court?)
  • Discover the history of a case (prior and subsequent)
  • Find parallel citations
  • Locate other cases that have cited your case (and are likely to deal with a similar issue)
  • Locate secondary sources that have cited your case & address your topic

You can -

  • Discover the history of a statute (Has it been amended? Reversed?
  • Locate cases that have cited the statute
  • Learn how citing cases have interpreted the statute
  • Discover secondary sources that cite the statute or regulation & address your topic

Legal Citator In Action











Legal CITATOR Signals

Just because a case/statute/regulation has a red stop sign/signal. indicating the negative treatment does NOT mean that the entire case/statute/regulation is no longer good law.  It just means that at least one point of the case/statute or regulations is no longer good law.  Always check to learn what has been overruled or no longer valid!


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