Citations

From LawLibWiki


Introduction to citations

A legal citation is a "reference to a legal precedent or authority, such as a case, statute, or treatise, that either substantiates or contradicts a given position".[1]

To identify past court case decisions, a citation system is used in which the citation refers to a series of books, called reporters or law reports, or in a neutral style that identifies a decision regardless of where it is reported.

Case citations are formatted differently in different jurisdictions, but generally contain the same key information. The citation often contains the following information:

  • Court that issued the decision, usually abbreviated
  • Report title
  • Volume number
  • Page, section, or paragraph number
  • Publication year

When viewing cases in legal databases, the OSCOLA referencing style dictates that the neutral citation comes before any citation for a printed law report series.

The standard mode of citation in common law jurisdictions dictates the year of judgment appears in round brackets, e.g. (YYYY), and the publication year in square brackets, e.g. [YYYY].

Neutral citations

Neutral citations identify judgments independently of any series of reports, and cite only parties, year of judgment, court, and case number. In some instances, the court division may be included.

Unlike the majority of citations, neutral citations do not refer to a specific report of a case, but to the judgment itself. A neutral citation by itself therefore cannot be used to locate a law report without further research; however, it is particularly useful when citing or tracing an unreported case.[2]

Law Reports

Main article: Law Reports

Law reports or reporters are series of books that contain judicial opinions from a selection of case law decided by courts. When a particular judicial opinion is referenced, the law report series in which the opinion is printed will determine the case citation format.

Law report citations often contain the following information:

  • Report title
  • Volume number
  • Page, section, or paragraph number
  • Publication year (often in square brackets for common law jurisdictions)

In some law reports, volumes are not numbered independently of the year.

Neutral Citations by country

Below are neutral citations listed by country.

United Kingdom

Neutral citations in the U.K identify judgments independently of any series of reports, and cite only parties, year of judgment, court and case number.

Since 2001, judgments in the House of Lords, Privy Council, Court of Appeal and Administrative Court have been issued with neutral citations. This system was extended to other parts of the High Court in 2002.

The UK's Supreme Court received its neutral citation on its creation. Further neutral citations were established in April 2014, for the Family Court and Court of Protection.

England and Wales

Neutral citations for courts in England and Wales are as follows:

Court Name Neutral Citation Example of neutral citation
House of Lords [Year] UKHL number* [2001] UKHL 52
Privy Council [Year] UKPC number [2001] UKPC 2
England and Wales Court of Appeal (Civil Division) [Year] EWCA Civ number. [2001] EWCA Civ 124
England and Wales Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) [Year] EWCA Crim number. [2001] EWCA Crim 124
England and Wales High Court (Administrative Court) (from 2001) [Year] EWCA Admin number
(from 2002) [Year] EWHC number (Admin)
(from 2001) [2001] EWCA Civ 124
(from 2002) [2002] EWHC 4 (Admin)
England and Wales High Court (Chancery Division) [Year] EWHC number (Ch) [2002] EWHC 60 (Ch)
England and Wales High Court (Patents Court) [Year] EWHC number (Pat) [2002] EWHC 1373 (Pat)
England and Wales High Court (Queen's Bench Division) [Year] EWHC number (QB) [2002] EWHC 24 (QB)
England and Wales High Court (Commercial Court) [Year] EWHC number (Comm) [2002] EWHC 53 (Comm)
England and Wales High Court (Admiralty Court) [Year] EWHC number (Admlty) [2002] EWHC 673 (Admlty)
England and Wales High Court (Technology and Construction Court) [Year] EWHC number (TCC) [2002] EWHC 354 (TCC)
England and Wales High Court (Family Division) [Year] EWHC number (Fam) [2002] EWHC 354 (Fam)
England and Wales High Court (Mercantile Court) [Year] EWHC number (Mercantile) [2007] EWHC 34 (Mercantile)
UK Supreme Court** [Year] UKSC number [2009] UKSC 124
England and Wales Family Court*** [Year] EWFC number [2014] EWFC 16
England and Wales Court of Protection*** [Year] EWCOP number [2014] EWCOP 9
*UKHL ceased as a neutral citation in 2009, when the Supreme Court replaced the House of Lords as the UK’s highest court of appeal
**From 1st October 2009
***From April 2014

Scotland

Neutral citations for courts in Scotland are as follows:

Court Name Neutral Citation
Scotland High Court of Justiciary [Year] HCJT number
Scotland Court of Criminal Appeal [Year] HCJAC number
Scotland Court of Session, Outer House [Year] CSOH number
Scotland Court of Session, Inner House [Year] CSIH number

Northern Ireland

Neutral citations for courts in Northern Ireland are as follows:

Court Name Neutral Citation
Northern Ireland Court of Appeal [Year] NICA number
Northern Ireland, High Court, Queen's Bench division [Year] NIQB number
Northern Ireland, High Court, Family division [Year] NIFam number
Northern Ireland, High Court, Chancery division [Year] NICh number
Northern Ireland Crown Court [Year] NICC number
Northern Ireland Master's Decisions [Year] NIMaster number

Crown dependencies

Jersey

Neutral citations for courts in Jersey are as follows:

Court Name Neutral Citation
Royal Court [Year] JRC number
Court of Appeal [Year] JCA number

Australia

Neutral citations for courts in Australia are as follows[3] :

Court Name Neutral Citation
High Court [Year] HCA number
Family Court [Year] FamCA number
Federal Court [Year] FCA number
New South Wales Supreme Court [Year] NSWSC number
New South Wales Court of Appeal [Year] NSWCA number
Queensland Supreme Court [Year] QSC number
Queensland Court of Appeal [Year] QCA number
South Australia Supreme Court [Year] SASC number
Victora Supreme Court [Year] VSC number
Victoria Court of Appeal [Year] VSCA number
Western Australia Supreme Court [Year] WASC number

Canada

Neutral citations for courts in Canada are as follows[4] :

Court Name Neutral Citation
Supreme Court [Year] SCC number
Federal Court of Appeal [Year] FCA number
Alberta Court of Appeal [Year] ABCA number
British Columbia Court of Appeal [Year] BCCA number
British Columbia Supreme Court [Year] BCSC number
Mantioba Court of Appeal [Year] MBCA number
New Brunswick Court of Appeal [Year] NBCA number
Nova Scotia Court of Appeal [Year] NSCA number
Nova Scotia Supreme Court [Year] NSSC number
Quebec Court of Appeal [Year] QCCA number
Saskatchewan Court of Appeal [Year] SKCA number

New Zealand

Neutral citations for courts in New Zealand are as follows [5] :

Court Name Neutral Citation
Supreme Court [Year] NZSC number
Federal Court of Appeal [Year] NZCA number
High Court [Year] NZHC number

Resources

Subscription Databases

Various legal databases have now adopted their own, neutral citation to distinguish cases.

Westlaw

WLUK is the neutral citation used by Westlaw, it stands for Westlaw United Kingdom. The citation appears in the following format:

  • Year in square brackets
  • Month as number, not a volume
  • WLUK
  • Sequential number, not page number

An example of this Westlaw neutral citation appears on X v Oldham MBC, in which the citation is: [2013] 7 WLUK 159

LexisNexis

As of November 2019, Lexis have implemented their own citation, similar to Westlaw. Some users may see this as Lexis Citation or LNUK.

Online Websites and Projects

Lawcite is a free international legal case citator produced by members of the Free Access to Law Movement. Over 15,000 law report series and journals are indexed - a list of these is available here.

References

  1. Garner, Bryan A., ed. (2012). Black's Law Dictionary (9th Abridged ed.). St. Paul, Minnesota: West. p. 221. ISBN 978-0-314-26578-4.
  2. Guide to Neutral Citations, Inner Temple Library < accessed 23 March 2019 >
  3. Neutral Citations, Australia, ICLR Knowledge < accessed 27 April 2019 >
  4. Neutral Citations, Canada, ICLR Knowledge < accessed 27 April 2019 >
  5. Neutral Citations, New Zealand, ICLR Knowledge < accessed 27 April 2019 >