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

 

 

 

Understanding citations – LEGISLATION

STATUTES

  1. UK Parliament statutes

Statutes prior to 1963

Each piece of legislation passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom is known as an Act of Parliament. In the citation of the Act, the number(s) before the letters represents the years of the reign of the monarch during which the relevant parliamentary session was held. Parliamentary sessions did not coincide with calendar years, and usually they spanned more than one calendar year.

For example

enough

The citation here means that The Railways (Extension Time) Act is the 18th Act passed during the session that started in the 31st year of the reign of Victoria and which finished in the 32nd year of that reign.

Modern statutes (since 1963)

Each modern Act of Parliament commences with a ‘Short Title’, which is a relatively brief name almost invariably used to identify the Act. The Short Title also includes the year of enactment. This is followed by a chapter number, which denotes the sequential number of the Act in the calendar year.

For example

new-statutes

The citation means that the Human Rights Act was the 42nd Act of Parliament passed in the year 1998.

2. Scottish Parliament statutes

The Scotland Act 1998 and the Scotland Act 2012 guarantee the power to the Scottish Parliament to create their own legislation in certain fields. Acts of the Scottish Parliament commence with a ‘Short Title’ (usually containing the word ‘Scotland’ in brackets and the year of enactment) followed by the acronym ‘asp’ (which stands for ‘Act of the Scottish Parliament’) and a number  (which increases consecutively from number 1 with each Act in the calendar year).

For example

scottish-act

This citation means that the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act was the 1st Act of the Scottish Parliament passed in the year 2016.

DELEGATED LEGISLATION

  1. UK Statutory Instruments 

The most familiar type of delegated legislation is the Statutory Instrument (SI). Statutory Instruments in the UK are centrally registered and issued with a number which resumes from ‘No. 1’ at the start of each calendar year.

For example

si-1

2. Scottish Statutory Instruments

Each Scottish Statutory Instrument (SSI) made by the Scottish Government is in essentially the same form as the UK Statutory Instruments although cited using the prefix ‘SSI’. They are separately numbered, with the numbering resuming from ‘No. 1’ at the start of each calendar year.

For example

ssi

If you have any questions or need assistance, please visit the library or email us.

Taylor Library Team
 lawlib@abdn.ac.uk

 

 

 

 

 

OSCOLA – Abbreviations commonly used in case names

When you are using OSCOLA referencing style, please remember that you can abbreviate common words and phrases in case names, i.e. use DPP for Director of Public Prosecutions or Co for Company.

The table below provides you with examples for abbreviations commonly used in case names. It is not a comprehensive list, so for abbreviations that are not in the list, please consult Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations database.

TIP! In OSCOLA, abbreviations do not have full stops.

Attorney General A-G
Anonymous Anon
Area Health Authority AHA
British Broadcasting Corporation BBC
Borough Council BC
County Council CC
Company Co
Commissioner/Commissioners Comr/Comrs
Co-operative Co-op
Corporation Corp
Crown Prosecution Service CPS
District Council DC
Department Dept
Director of Public Prosecutions DPP
European Communities EC
Executor Exor
Executrix Exrx
Health Authority HA
Her Majesty’s HM
Incorporated Inc
Inland Revenue Commissioners IRC
London Borough Council LBC
Limited Ltd
public limited company plc
The Queen (or King) R
Rural District Council RDC
Urban District Council UDC
Vice-Chancellor V-C

For more information, please read the following sections of  OSCOLA user guide (4th ed.): 1.6 Tables and lists of abbreviations, 1.6.1 Lists of abbreviations, 2.1.2. Case names and 4.2 Abbreviations.

Taylor Library Team
lawlib@abdn.ac.uk

 

 

Tip of the Day: Citing cases in footnotes

OSCOLA final

  Did you know

… if the full name of the case is given in your text, it is not given in the footnote?

  For example:

Amongst Lord Reid’s cases where there seems to have been a late change of mind and vote include such famous cases as Rookes v Barnard47 White and Carter (Councils) Ltd v McGregor, 48 Anisminic Ltd v Foreign Compensation Commission, 49 Home Office
v Dorset Yacht Co,
 50 and Cassell v Broome. 51

  Footnote:

 (47) [1964] AC 1129.
 (48) [1961] UKHL 5.
 (49) [1969] 2 AC 147.
 (50) [1970] UKHL 2.
 (51) [1972] UKHL 3.

For more information, see pages 3-4 in OSCOLA user guide.

 Taylor Library Staff