Understanding citations – CASES

  1. INTERPRETING CASE CITATIONS

GENERAL RULES

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:

  • year
  • abbreviation (for the law report series in which the case was published)
  • page number.

Parallel citations

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.

courts-1

ANATOMY OF A CASE CITATION

scottish-cases

english-cases

neutral-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)
Family (Fam)
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
 lawlib@abdn.ac.uk

 

 

 

Useful information to you for your first assignment – Library Exercise required by Legal System (LS1025) course

As a first year law student, you will be required to complete a mandatory Library Exercise in the Legal System course in late September. In this exercise, students have to come to the Taylor Library, and find answers to around 30 questions set by the School of Law. This activity introduces two very basic collections to you: the Law Report Series and Official Publications collections. It helps you navigate through legal cases and primary legislation, and it shapes your knowledge on legal terminology.

This is the very first assignment you have to face, and students are often overwhelmed by the challenge. To make the completion of the Library Exercise easier, and more successful, we put together the following list of instructions.

Cases

  1. Read the questions carefully! You will find questions related to court cases. To find the right answers, you need to know what the case citation means in a particular case.
  2. Decoding citation is not always straightforward, especially if you have never done this before. Please follow the hyperlink to get help with understanding case citation.
  3. In the Taylor Library, there are posters everywhere which can explain what the different abbreviations stand for. Look for posters like this at the end of the shelves.Abbreviation posters
  4. Once you know the meaning of the abbreviation, you are on the right track to find the resource you need. For example, if the abbreviation is SC, and you have figured out that this stands for Session Cases, then the next step is to locate this law report series in the library.
  5. Law reports are stored on the right hand side of the lower level in Block C and Block D, and they are arranged in alphabetical order.

Legislation

  1. Around half of the questions concern legislation. And, just as with legal cases, legislation also has its own citation regime. Please follow the link to learn more about citing legislation.
  2.  The Official Publications collection which contains the resources you need is found at the back of  lower Block D, on the right hand side. Block D downstairs
  3. In order to answer the questions, you will need these publications:Statutes
  4. There are always a few questions concerning the Current Law Statutes Annotated collection which can be found on the lower level in Block C, opposite the Help Desk.

TIPS!

  • This is an individual assignment and not group work. Please work alone, and ask the library staff, and not your fellow students, if you need help.
  • Certain resources are stored downstairs in Block D. We would like to remind you that it is a Silent Study Zone, so talking is not allowed there.
  • And finally, this is a paper exercise. You are expected to find the answers in the library and not online. Please try to avoid using electronic legal databases.

We hope that this exercise will be a pleasant and rewarding experience. Do not worry if you cannot find the answers right away, you still know where you can find us. Please, come to the Help Desk or to the Issue Desk in the Taylor Library, and do not be afraid to ask for help.

Good luck with your Library Exercise!

Taylor Library Team
lawlib@abdn.ac.uk