Precedent Map

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.

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 on 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 color. Green is for a positive treatment, yellow is a caution, red is negative, and orange is neutral. Grey means the treatment has not been classified.

Treatment types are only available for the US, the UK, and Ireland, so depending on where you are doing your research, your Precedent Map may look slightly different.

For US treatments, please read our article on Cert.

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 return to the original view.

In the image above, the largest circle represents the original case which cites multiple documents, represented by the circles inside the main one. The case has been subsequently cited over 200, represented by the 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, and you will only see up to 30 at one time. To view a list of additional cases, click the circle at the bottom.

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.

Precedent Map filters

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.

Direct connections

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 categorized, so depending on where you are doing your research, your Precedent Map may look slightly different.

For ideas on how to use this feature as part of your research, read Analyse documents.

Video walkthrough

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