Skip to Main Content

Nominative Reports

These three databases aim to be the most comprehensive collection of common law nominative reports.

Topic Overview

Three Databases. One Comprehensive Resource.

For the first time ever, this is the most comprehensive collection of rare nominative reports available online from England, Ireland, and the United States.

What are the nominatives?

  • court reports that existed before a system of standardized court reporting

Nominative reports

  • first emerged in the 1500s in England
  • provide a valuable historical record of how and why cases were decided and social norms of their time periods
  • early records that profoundly influenced subsequent case law and legal practice
  • volumes are named after the lawyer, judge, or layperson who published notes on the case
  • many different reporters could have covered a case, court, or judge—or no one could have covered a case
  • quality and thoroughness varies from reporter to reporter

All about English Nominatives

  • English legal scholar Edmund Plowden published a book of law reports in 1571—an exceptionally complete record that was unusual for the time
  • more law reports were published after 1650 when printing restrictions were lifted
    • they also start to be published in English instead of Law French
    • nominatives, therefore, became very popular
  • the Incorporated Council of Law reporting standardized law reporting in England in 1865
    • nominatives fell out of favor after 1865
  • most, but not all, of the nominatives were later reprinted in the English Reports between 1900–1932
    • however, the English Reports do not contain every edition of the nominatives

Visit Database

All about the Irish Nominatives

  • most published between 1766–1859
  • unlike English and American reporters, Irish reporters focused on one court at a time
  • from 1866–1894, Irish reports were published in two series: Common Law and Equity
    • these then merged into one publication, the Irish Reports

Visit Database

All about the American Nominatives

  • early American court decisions relied heavily on precents set by England
  • nominatives were the standard for state and federal court reporting
  • the U.S. Supreme Court hired its first official reporter in 1817
    • state and other federal courts followed suit

Visit Database