To determine if a case can be considered good law, vLex shows you a graphical representation of how it is connected to other documents.
The Precedent Map combines the information from the Cited authorities and the Cited in tabs of a case.
Precedent Map tab
Each document is represented by a circle.
- The central circle is the original case of interest.
- The circles inside the central circle are the cases that the original case cites.
- The circles around it are the cases that have gone on to cite the original case.
- Sometimes, you will see a dotted circle with no connection to the central circle. These are cases that have a lot of similarities to the original case, while also having relationships with other cases in the map. These cases can still be useful, even though they have not been directly cited in the original case.
Sometimes, the treatment type is represented by colour. Green is for a positive treatment, red is negative, and orange is neutral. Grey means the treatment has not been classified.
Treatment type is only available for UK and Ireland, so depending on where you are doing your research, your Precedent Map may look slightly different.
Clicking once on a circle within the Precedent Map will show you how that case is related to the other displayed cases. Click again on the same circle to go back.
Seeing how cases relate to eachother
In the image above, the largest circle represents the original case which cites five documents, represented by the five circles inside the main one. The case has been subsequently cited seven times, represented by the seven circles on the outside of the map. Circles on the outside are in chronological order from left to right, allowing you to see whether your case was cited positively or negatively by the most recent case to cite it.
The larger the circle on the map, the more cases it will be connected to. This means that it probably has many commonalities with the original case, and signals a good starting point for further research.
Double-clicking on a circle will take you to that document, allowing you to learn more about a case once you have found your next point of research.
Navigating precedents and cited authorities
To the right of the Precedent Map, there are filters you can use to make sure that your time is spent focusing on the most relevant cases.
This field will let you search for specific words within the cases in the Precedent Map.
In this section, you can filter cases by treatment type. Use these boxes to check or uncheck depending on what you want to see. For example, if you are trying to counteract a precedent that you know your opponent will rely on, you might want to focus on the negative treatments.
For cases that are well established and have been used many times, you may want to filter to the positive and negative treatments, so that the map isn't too busy.
Categories will let you choose the type of documents you see, based on the area of law, by selecting the relevant checkbox(es).
This feature is only available for jurisdictions whose cases have been categorised, so depending on where you are doing your research, your Precedent Map may look slightly different.