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Searching the Legal Opinions Database

The database on www.legalopinions.ags.gov.au contains 1,751 opinion records, each opinion has six unique fields of data that can be searched against:

  • Subject - The subject of the opinion content, generally multiple short, phrased descriptions.
  • Author - The name of one of the 31 authors of the legal opinions (see Authors page for details).
  • Key Legislation - Listed legislation or references to the constitution that generally form the basis of the opinions content and narrative.
  • Date - The date the original opinion was written.
  • Client - The client specifies who the opinion was written for as the opinions were written as advice to many different MPs and departments .
  • Opinion Content - Varying in length the opinion content is the main section of each opinion page that was digitised and imported as searchable text, all opinion content across all opinions can be searched when this field (or the 'any field' selection) is chosen.

The simple search box at the top right of every page is a quick search of all the Legal Opinions, (it does not search Author biographies), each word or phrase entered in the quick search will lookup across all opinion fields on all opinion records and return the highest ranking results.

Advanced search enables users to set specific search terms against multiple fields and dates allowing more specific searching for research and reference.

Search syntax

The advanced search feature uses the Boolean Search logic to return the most accurate search results.

Enter at least one keyword in the first field to perform a search, optional fields and operators can be selected as well as the date date range from/to selector which filters opinions based on their date field.

Search Operators

Search Operators can be selected for each search field with the following results:

Search Operator Example Search Result
AND Mansell and Constitution Mansell and Constitution anywhere in the same record
OR Mansell or Constitution Mansell or Constitution or both
NOT Mansell not Constitution Mansell but not Constitution

Search Operators illustration example:

Search Operators Illustration, AND, OR and NOT

Phrased Searches

The advanced search feature also allows phrased searches, by phrasing a search term in double quotation marks the search will provide results only containing the exact text within the quotation marks, for example, the search:

"excise and customs"

will return results for only opinions that have the full term 'excise and customs'. If the search is phrased without quotation marks like this:

excise and customs

any opinion with the word 'excise' or 'and' or 'customs' will be returned.

Truncated Searches

Truncation or wildcard searching allows a user to enter a partial word with the asterisk symbol to search for the text plus any combination of letters after the asterisk. For example the search: const* will search for const + any combination of letters after the asterisk, results could include constitution, constable, constant...

Advanced Search General Tips

  1. Use the ANY Field to search content from Opinion Number, Subject, Key Legislation, Client, Opinion Author, Opinion Text across all opinion records.

  2. Select specific Field to restrict search from all field.

  3. Use more specific words or add words using AND to narrow your search.

  4. Exclude words from your search results using NOT to remove unwanted results.

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