- INTERPRETING CASE CITATIONS
What does case citation mean?
Case citation is a system of referencing by which legal professionals can identify a legal case heard and decided by one of the courts in the UK.
A full case citation starts with the Case name in italics followed by the neutral citation (where available) and/or the reference for law report series where the case was published. The citation tells you where to find the case (in paper or online) if you need it.
For cases from Scottish and English courts, the citation usually has 3 distinct parts:
- abbreviation (for the law report series in which the case was published)
- page number.
You may see more than one citation following the party names. These are parallel citations, and refer you to the case in different law report series. You do not need to find all the law reports which published the case to read it. You should use the most authoritative citation which is the first one right after the party names. Parallel citations offer an opportunity to find a case in different law reports if the library does not have the most authoritative source.
Neutral citations (case identifiers)
The neutral citations were introduced in the UK in 2001, and in Scotland in 2005. This system means that decisions of the superior courts in both Scotland and England are issued with unique judgement numbers. So, the last number after the abbreviation is not a page number but the identifier of the case.
ANATOMY OF A CASE CITATION
*Law reports are usually cited by abbreviation rather than the full title. Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations can help you understand the meaning of abbreviations for the titles of English language legal publications.
2. TRACKING DOWN CASES ON PAPER AND ONLINE
Law reports are available on paper in Block C and Block D of the Taylor Library. They are shelved by title in alphabetical order running down the right hand side of the lower level of the Library. The current parts of law reports are on the display stand near the entrance. All law reports are for reference use only.
For electronic versions of the law reports you have to consult the legal databases (Westlaw, Lexis Library, HeinOnline). Alternatively, you might want to check Primo, our resource discovery tool, for individual law report titles. (Do a ‘title search’ instead of a search by citation.) Please note that not all years are available for all law reports.
For more information on accessing and using legal databases, please read our library guides.
3. PRINCIPAL SERIES OF LAW REPORTS
SCOTLAND (this is not a comprehensive list of resources)
- Session Cases (SC)
- Scots Law Times (SLT)
- Scottish Civil Law Reports (SCLR)
- Scottish Criminal Case Reports (SCCR)
- Scottish Criminal Law (SCL)
- Green’s Weekly Digest (GWD)
ENGLAND (this is not a comprehensive list of resources)
- The Law Reports
4 subseries within The Law Reports:
Appeal Cases (AC)
Chancery Division (CH)
Queen’s Bench (QB)*
- Weekly Law Reports (WLR)
- All England Law Reports (All ER)
*It can be King’s Bench (KB) – it changes with the monarch.
If you have any questions or need assistance, please visit the library or email us.
Taylor Library & EDC