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Case citation

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Case citation is the system used in many countries to identify the decisions in past court cases, either in special series of books called reporters or law report
Law report
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.The term reporter was...

s, or in a 'neutral' form which will identify a decision wherever it was reported. Although case citations are formatted differently in different jurisdiction
Jurisdiction
Jurisdiction is the practical authority granted to a formally constituted legal body or to a political leader to deal with and make pronouncements on legal matters and, by implication, to administer justice within a defined area of responsibility...

s, they generally contain the same key information.

Where cases are published in paper form the citation will usually contain:
  • the title of the reports;
  • the volume number;
  • page number; and
  • year of decision.


In some report series, for example in England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 and Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, the volumes are not numbered independently of the year: thus the year and volume number (usually no greater than 4) are required to identify which book of the series has the case reported within its covers. In citations of this type it is usual in these jurisdictions for square bracket
Bracket
Brackets are tall punctuation marks used in matched pairs within text, to set apart or interject other text. In the United States, "bracket" usually refers specifically to the "square" or "box" type.-List of types:...

s "[year]" to be applied to the year (which may not be the year that the case was decided: for example, a case decided in December 2001 may have been reported in 2002).

The Internet brought with it the opportunity for courts to publish their decisions on web sites. Decisions of many courts from all over the world can now be found through the website WorldLII and its member institutes.

Most decisions of courts are not published
Non-publication
Non-publication of opinions, or Unpublished opinions, are those decisions of courts that are not available for citation as precedent because the judges making the opinion deem the case as having less precedential value....

  in printed law reports. The expense of typesetting and publishing them has limited the printed law reports to significant cases. Internet publishing of court decisions resulted in a flood of information. The result was that a medium-neutral citation system had to be adopted. This usually contains the following information:
  • year of decision
  • the abbreviated title of the court; and
  • the decision number (not the court file number)

Rather than utilizing page numbers for pin-point references, which would depend upon particular printers and browsers, pin-point quotes refer to paragraph numbers.

Australia



The standard case citation format in Australia is:
Style of cause (year of decision) [year of report] volume report (series) page
Mabo v Queensland (No 2)
Mabo v Queensland
Mabo v Queensland was a landmark High Court of Australia decision recognising native title in Australia for the first time...

(1992) 175 CLR 1.


As in Canada, there has been divergence among citation styles. There exist commercial citation guides published by Butterworths and other legal publishing companies, academic citation styles and court citation styles. Each court in Australia may cite the same case slightly differently. There is presently a movement in convergence to the comprehensive academic citation style of the Australian Guide to Legal Citation
Australian Guide to Legal Citation
The Australian Guide to Legal Citation is published by the Melbourne University Law Review Association Inc in collaboration with the Melbourne Journal of International Law Inc, and seeks to provide the Australian legal community with a standard for citing legal sources...

 published by the Melbourne University Law Review
Melbourne University Law Review
The Melbourne University Law Review is a triannual law journal published by a student group at Melbourne Law School. The journal publishes articles on all areas of law, as well as case notes, book reviews, and review essays.- Overview :...

.

Reports

Abbreviation Report Years
AAR Administrative Appeals Reports -
ALJR Australian Law Journal Reports -
ALR Australian Law Reports 1983 -
CLR Commonwealth Law Reports 1903 -
FLC Family Law Cases -
FLR Federal Law Reports -
NSWLR New South Wales Law Reports -
Qd R Queensland Reports -
SASR South Australian State Reports -
VR Victorian Reports -

Neutral citation


Australian courts and tribunals have now adopted a neutral citation standard for case law. The format provides a naming system that does not depend on the publication of the case in a law report. Most cases are now published on AustLII using neutral citations.

The standard format looks like this:
Year of decision Court identifier Ordinal number
[2005] HCA 1

So the above mentioned Mabo case would then be cited like this: Mabo v Queensland (No 2) [1992] HCA 23.

There is a unique court identifier code for most courts. The court and tribunal identifiers include:
Court Identifier Court
HCA High Court of Australia
High Court of Australia
The High Court of Australia is the supreme court in the Australian court hierarchy and the final court of appeal in Australia. It has both original and appellate jurisdiction, has the power of judicial review over laws passed by the Parliament of Australia and the parliaments of the States, and...

FCA Federal Court of Australia
Federal Court of Australia
The Federal Court of Australia is an Australian superior court of record which has jurisdiction to deal with most civil disputes governed by federal law , along with some summary criminal matters. Cases are heard at first instance by single Judges...

FCAFC Federal Court of Australia - Full Court (appeals bench)
FamCA Family Court of Australia
Family Court of Australia
The Family Court of Australia is a superior Australian federal court of record which deals with family law matters. Together with the Federal Magistrates Court, it covers family law matters in all states and territories of Australia except Western Australia...

FMCA Federal Magistrates' Court of Australia
Federal Magistrates' Court of Australia
The Federal Magistrates Court is an Australian court established by the Federal Magistrates Act 1999 , although its first officers were not appointed until 2000...

FMCAfam Federal Magistrates' Court of Australia
Federal Magistrates' Court of Australia
The Federal Magistrates Court is an Australian court established by the Federal Magistrates Act 1999 , although its first officers were not appointed until 2000...

, family law decisions
AAT Administrative Appeals Tribunal
Administrative Appeals Tribunal
The Administrative Appeals Tribunal is an Australian tribunal which provides for quasi-judicial review of administrative decisions by the Australian federal government. It is not a court and not part of the Australian court hierarchy, however its decisions are subject to review by the Federal...

 (federal)
NSWSC Supreme Court of New South Wales
Supreme Court of New South Wales
The Supreme Court of New South Wales is the highest state court of the Australian State of New South Wales...

NSWCA New South Wales Court of Appeal
NSWCCA New South Wales Court of Criminal Appeal

Canada


There are a number of citation standards in Canada. Many legal publishing companies and schools have their own practice for citation. Since the late 1990s, however, there has been a convergence among much of legal community to a single standard which has been formulated in The Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation, commonly known as the "McGill Guide
McGill Guide
The McGill Guide is the unofficial name for the Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation, which establishes the legal citation standard in Canada. It is published by the McGill Law Journal of the McGill University Faculty of Law and is used by law students and lawyers throughout Canada...

" after the McGill Law Journal
McGill Law Journal
The McGill Law Journal is a scholarly legal publication affiliated with the student body of the McGill University Faculty of Law in Montreal, Quebec, published by a non-profit corporate institution independent of the Faculty run exclusively by students. It also publishes the Canadian Guide to...

which first published it. The following format reflects this standard.

The standard case citation in Canada looks like this:
Hunter v Southam, [1984] 2 SCR 145.


The format can be broken into its component parts:
Style of cause (year of decision), [year of report] volume report (series) page jurisdiction/court
R v Big M Drug Mart Ltd
R. v. Big M Drug Mart Ltd.
R. v. Big M Drug Mart Ltd., [1985] 1 S.C.R. 295, is a landmark decision by Supreme Court of Canada where the Court struck down the Lord's Day Act for violating section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms...

,
[1985] 1 SCR 295.
R v Oakes
R. v. Oakes
R. v. Oakes [1986] 1 S.C.R. 103 is a case decided by the Supreme Court of Canada which established the famous Oakes test, an analysis of the limitations clause of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms that allows reasonable limitations on rights and freedoms through legislation if it can be...

,
[1986] 1 SCR 103.
Re Canada Trust Co and OHRC (1990), 69 DLR (4th) 321 (Ont CA).


The Style of Cause is italicized as in all other countries and the party names are separated by "v" (English) or "c" (French). Prior to 1984 the appellant party would always be named first. However, since then case names do not switch order when the case is appealed.

Undisclosed parties to a case are represented by initials (e.g., R v RDS). Criminal cases are prosecuted by the Crown which is always represented by "R" for Regina (queen) or Rex (king). Constitutional references
Reference question
In Canadian law, a Reference Question is a submission by the federal or a provincial government to the courts asking for an advisory opinion on a major legal issue. Typically the question concerns the constitutionality of legislation....

 are always entitled "Reference re" followed by the subject title.

If the year of decision is the same as the year of the report, and the date is a part of the reporter's citation then the date need not be listed after the style of cause. If the date of the decision is different from the year of the report, then both should be shown.

Where available cases should be cited with their neutral citation immediately after the style of cause and preceding the print citation. For example,
Chaoulli v Quebec (Attorney General)
Chaoulli v. Quebec (Attorney General)
Chaoulli v. Quebec [2005] 1 S.C.R. 791, was a decision by the Supreme Court of Canada where the Court ruled that the Quebec Health Insurance Act and the Hospital Insurance Act prohibiting private medical insurance in the face of long wait times violated the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and...

, 2005 SCC 35, [2005] 1 SCR 791.


This format was adopted as the standard in 2006, in the sixth edition of the McGill Guide. Prior to this format, the opposite order of parallel citation was used.

The seventh edition of the McGill Guide, published 2010-08-20, removes most full stop (".") characters from the citations (e.g., a citation to the Supreme Court Reports which would previously have been [2005] 1 S.C.R. 791, is now [2005] 1 SCR 791. Most full stops are also removed from styles of cause. The seventh edition also further highlights the significance of neutral citations (i.e., tribunal-assigned citations that are publisher-independent)

Reports

Abbreviation Report years
Admin LR Administrative Law Reports 1983–1991
Admin LR (2d) Administrative Law Reports (second series) 1992–1998
Admin LR (3d) Administrative Law Reports (third series) 1999 -
ANWTYTR Alberta, Northwest Territories & Yukon Tax Reporter 1973 -
ACWS All Canada Weekly Summaries 1970–1979
ACWS (2d) All Canada Weekly Summaries (second series) 1980–1986
AR Alberta Reports 1976 -
CCLT (2d) Canadian Cases on the Law of Torts
DLR Dominion Law Reports
DLR (2d) Dominion Law Reports (second series)
DLR (3d) Dominion Law Reports (third series) - 1984
DLR (4th) Dominion Law Reports (fourth series) 1984 -
FCR Federal Court Reports 1971 -
NBR (2d) New Brunswick Reports 1969 -
NR National Reporter
NSR (2d) Nova Scotia Reports 1969 -
OR (3d) Ontario Reports 1986 -
SCR Supreme Court Reports 1970 -
WWR Western Weekly Reports 1911–1950, 1971 -
WWR(NS) Western Weekly Reports (New Series) 1950–1971

Neutral citation


In 1999 the Canadian Judicial Council
Canadian Judicial Council
The Canadian Judicial Council is a federal body created under the Judges Act , with the mandate to "promote efficiency, uniformity, and accountability, and to improve quality of judicial service in the superior courts of Canada". The Council is also mandated to review "any complaint or allegation"...

 adopted a neutral citation standard for case law. The format provides a naming system that does not depend on the publication of the case in a law report.

The standard format look like this:
Year of decision Court identifier Ordinal number
2000 SCC 1


There is a unique court identifier code for most courts. A list of the court identifiers include:
Court Identifier Court from year
SCC Supreme Court of Canada
Supreme Court of Canada
The Supreme Court of Canada is the highest court of Canada and is the final court of appeals in the Canadian justice system. The court grants permission to between 40 and 75 litigants each year to appeal decisions rendered by provincial, territorial and federal appellate courts, and its decisions...

2000
FCT Federal Court of Canada
Federal Court of Canada
The Federal Court of Canada was a national court of Canada that heard some types of disputes arising under the central government's legislative jurisdiction...

 - Trial Division
2001
FCA Federal Court of Canada - Appeal Division 2001
TCC Tax Court of Canada
Tax Court of Canada
The Tax Court of Canada , established in 1983 by the Tax Court of Canada Act, is a federal superior court which deals with matters involving companies or individuals and tax issues with the Government of Canada....

2003
CMAC Court Martial Appeal Court
Court Martial Appeal Court of Canada
The Court Martial Appeal Court of Canada hears appeals from military courts .In Canada, courts martial are presided over by independent military judges from the office of the Chief Military Judge...

Comp Trib Competition Tribunal of Canada
BCCA British Columbia Court of Appeal
BCSC Supreme Court of British Columbia
BCPC Provincial Court of British Columbia
BCHRT British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal
BCSECCOM British Columbia Securities Commission
ONCA Ontario Court of Appeal
ONSC Ontario Superior Court of Justice
QCCA Quebec Court of Appeal

Germany



In Germany there are two types of citation, the full citation of a case and its shortened form. In e.g. scientific articles the full citation of a particular case is only used at its first occurrence, after that its shortened form is used. In most law journals the articles themselves only use the shortened form, the full citations for all articles sometimes are summarized at the beginning of that journals edition.

Federal Constitutional Court of Germany


The most important cases of the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany
Federal Constitutional Court of Germany
The Federal Constitutional Court is a special court established by the Grundgesetz, the German basic law...

 are published by the court in its official collection. This collection is abbreviated "BVerfGE", whereas BVerfG is short for Bundesverfassungsgericht, the German court name, and E stands for Entscheidung (decision).

Starting in 2004, the court also publishes the "BVerfGK" collection, containing decisions made only by a Kammer, a specific part of the court.

The so-called Volkszählungsurteil for example could be cited
BVerfGE 65, 1 (43), Urteil des Ersten Senats vom 15. Dezember 1983 auf die mündliche Verhandlung vom 18. und 19. Oktober 1983, Az. 1 BvR 209, 269, 362, 420, 440, 484/83.

in full and
BVerfGE 65, 1 (43).

in short.
official collection volume page of beginning page cited more detailed information and date case number
BVerfGE 65, 1 (43), Urteil des Ersten Senats
vom 15. Dezember 1983
[in case of a hearing:] auf die mündliche Verhandlung vom 18. und 19. Oktober 1983,
Az. 1 BvR 209, 269, 362, 420, 440, 484/83


For the meaning of the different case numbers of the BVerfG see the German article.

If decisions are not published by the court yet or will not be published by it at all, law journals can be cited, e.g.
BVerfG, NJW 2009, 1234 (1235 f.).

Where NJW stands for the law journal Neue Juristische Wochenschrift, 2009 is the year, 1234 the page of the beginning and 1235 the cited page(s) - "f." stands for "seq.". In general, citations of the official collections are preferred.

Federal Court of Justice of Germany


The Federal Court of Justice of Germany
Federal Court of Justice of Germany
The Federal Court of Justice of Germany in Karlsruhe is the highest court in the system of ordinary jurisdiction in Germany. It is the supreme court in all matters of criminal and private law...

 (Bundesgerichtshof, short BGH) publishes the official collections BGHSt for decisions in penal law
Penal law
In the most general sense, penal is the body of laws that are enforced by the State in its own name and impose penalties for their violation, as opposed to civil law that seeks to redress private wrongs...

 and BGHZ for those in private law
Private law
Private law is that part of a civil law legal system which is part of the jus commune that involves relationships between individuals, such as the law of contracts or torts, as it is called in the common law, and the law of obligations as it is called in civilian legal systems...

.

The Katzenkönigfall e.g. would be cited
BGHSt 35, 347 ff., Urteil des 4. Strafsenats vom 15. September 1988, Az. 4 StR 352/88, 35, 347.

in full and
BGHSt 35, 347 ff.

in short (in this example, not a specific page but the case as such is cited; "ff." means "sqq.").

Other federal courts


The official collection of the Federal Social Court of Germany (Bundessozialgericht, BSG) is abbreviated BSGE.

The official collection of the Federal Finance Court of Germany
Federal Finance Court of Germany
The Federal Finance Court is one of the five federal supreme courts of Germany. It is the federal court of appeals for cases of tax and customs law, hearing appeals from the Finanzgerichte ....

 (Bundesfinanzhof, BFH) is BFHE.

The official collection of the Federal Labor Court of Germany
Federal Labor Court of Germany
The Federal Labor Court is the court of the last resort for cases of labour law in Germany, both for individual labour law and collective labour law...

 (Bundesarbeitsgericht, BAG) is BAGE.

The official collection of the Federal Administrative Court of Germany
Federal Administrative Court of Germany
The Federal Administrative Court is one of the five federal supreme courts of Germany. It is the court of the last resort for generally all cases of administrative law, mainly disputes between citizens and the state...

 (Bundesverwaltungsgericht, BVerwG) is BVerwGE.

Other courts


For the other courts generally the same rules apply, though most of them do not publish an official collection, so that they have to be cited from a law journal.

India


India's vast federated judicial system admits to a large number of reporters, each with their own style of citation. There are over 200 law reports in India – subject-wise and state(province)-wise; authorized and unauthorized.

Supreme Court of India


The official reporter for Supreme Court decisions is the Supreme Court Reports. These reports however lag behind other journals in the speed of reporting. Whilst decisions themselves are uploaded by the Supreme Court itself on www.courtnic.nic.in, the edited versions with headnotes in the official reporter take years to compile. However, some reporters have been authorised to publish the Court's decisions. The All India Reporter is an old and respected reporter that, in addition to the Supreme Court, also reports decisions of the various State High Courts. Other popular reporters include Supreme Court Cases, which has become the most cited report in the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court Almanac and Judgements Today.

For instance, the case of Sebastian Hongray v. Union of India can be cited thus:

AIR 1984 SC 571 - where 'AIR' is the All India Reporter, '1984' is the year of judgement (AIR does not use a volume-based classification), 'SC' is the Supreme Court of India and '571' is the page number;

(1984) 1 SCC 339 - which corresponds to the Year (of publication), Volume (of the reporter), Supreme Court Cases (name of the reporter)and Page Number (within the volume);

1984 Cri LJ 289 (SC) - which corresponds to Year (of publication), Criminal Law Journal (name of reporter) and Page Number (within the 1984 volumes). The forum is indicated in simple parentheses.

A citation of the "Supreme Court Almanac" looks like this - Additional Secretary, Government of India v. Alka Subhash Gadia (1990) 2 Scale 1352; and, "Judgements Today" like this - Premium Granites v. State of Tamil Nadu JT (1994) 1 SC 374.

The "Supreme Court Cases (SCC)" published supplementary reports for a few years in the early 1990s. Those citations looked like this - Federation of Mining Associations v. State of Rajasthan 1992 Supp (2) SCC 239, which points to page 239 of the Second Supplementary Volume of the SCC reports in the year 1992. From 1996 the Supplementary Volumes were numbered in sequence after the regular volumes.

The SCC also have a separate series of subject-based reporting of the decisions of the Supreme Court. For instance - Rathinam Nagbhushan Patnaik v. Union of India 1994 SCC (Cri) 740, which refers to the SCC Criminal Reports, and Delhi Transport Corporation v. Mazdoor Congress 1991 SCC (L&S) 1213, which refers to the SCC Labour & Services Reports.

High Courts


All India Reporter is the most popular nation-wide reporter for decisions of the High Courts. An AIR High Court citation looks like this - Surjya Kumar Das v. Maya Dutta AIR 1982 Cal 222, where 'Cal' refers to the Calcutta High Court, Kolkata. This is a uniform style for AIR High Court reports. Only the shortened indicator of the forum changes for different High Courts. The Calcutta Weekly Notes is the oldest continuously published law journal in India having uninterrupted publication since 1896 reporting reportable decisions of the High Court at Calcutta. Reports are cited in the style 105 CWN 345 where 105 refers to the Volume no. calculated at one volume per year from the initial volume published in 1896.

New Zealand


The standard case citation format in New Zealand is:
Style of cause (year of decision) [year of reporter] volume reporter page
Taylor v New Zealand Poultry Board [1984] 1 NZLR 394
R v Howse (2005) 21 CRNZ 823


Several leading law reviews in New Zealand have also adopted the Australian Guide to Legal Citation such as the Canterbury Law Review. The AGLC style is also rather similar to citation style in New Zealand. This is probably to aid exchanges in academic work between both sides of the Tasman as opposed to any sort of sense of cultural inferiority.

Reporters

Abbreviation Reporter Years
NZLR New Zealand Law Reports 1881 -
CRNZ Criminal Reports of New Zealand 1983 -
NZBORR New Zealand Bill of Rights Reports
NZAR New Zealand Administrative Reports 1976-
NZFLR New Zealand Family Law Reports 1981-
DCR District Court Reports 1981-


Additionally, a number of other report series exist for specialist areas such as Family, Employment and Tax Law.

Neutral citation


New Zealand courts and tribunals have begun to adopt a neutral citation standard for case law. The format provides a naming system that does not depend on the publication of the case in a law report. Most cases are now published on AustLII using neutral citations, although such formats are only used for Court of Appeal and Supreme Court
Supreme Court of New Zealand
The Supreme Court of New Zealand is the highest court and the court of last resort in New Zealand, having formally come into existence on 1 January 2004. The court sat for the first time on 1 July 2004. It replaced the right of appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, based in London...

 judgments. Outside of AustLII, only the Supreme Court uses such citations in relation to its own judgments.

The standard format looks like this:
Year of decision Court identifier Ordinal number
[2005] NZSC 1


There is a unique court identifier code only for the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal. These identifiers are:
Court Identifier Court
NZSC Supreme Court of New Zealand
Supreme Court of New Zealand
The Supreme Court of New Zealand is the highest court and the court of last resort in New Zealand, having formally come into existence on 1 January 2004. The court sat for the first time on 1 July 2004. It replaced the right of appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, based in London...

NZCA New Zealand Court of Appeal

The Philippines


Despite the long-standing civil law
Civil law (legal system)
Civil law is a legal system inspired by Roman law and whose primary feature is that laws are codified into collections, as compared to common law systems that gives great precedential weight to common law on the principle that it is unfair to treat similar facts differently on different...

 tradition in the Philippines, reliance on judicial precedents has become indispensable since the period of American rule. Decisions of the Supreme Court
Supreme Court of the Philippines
The Supreme Court of the Philippines is the Philippines' highest judicial court, as well as the court of last resort. The court consists of 14 Associate Justices and 1 Chief Justice...

 are expressly recognized as part of the internal law, and are thus cited with frequency in court decisions or legal pleadings. Even as there is only one Supreme Court in the Philippines, the citation of its decisions varies depending on which reporter of the case is relied upon.

Official reporter


The Philippine Reports is the official reporter of decisions of the Supreme Court of the Philippines
Supreme Court of the Philippines
The Supreme Court of the Philippines is the Philippines' highest judicial court, as well as the court of last resort. The court consists of 14 Associate Justices and 1 Chief Justice...

. The standard format for citation of the Philippine Reports is:
People v. Flores, 442 Phil. 561 (2002)


where:
  • People v. Flores is the name of the case
  • 442 is the volume number of the Philippine Reports where the case may be found
  • Phil. is the standard abbreviation of Philippine Reports
  • 561 is the page number in the Philippine Reports which contains the beginning of the decision. If this number is followed by a comma then another page number (i.e., 442 Phil. 561, 563), the latter number indicates the particular page where the annotated text can be found
  • (2002) is the year the case was decided.


As of present, Philippine cases are contained in quarterly issues. The Supreme Court Rulings Annotated or SCRA are cites as such:

Juarez v. Court of Appeals 214 SCRA 475

where 214 is the colume of the book, and 475 is the page number. There are already over 600 SCRAs in circulation.

Unofficial reporter


In the last few decades, the Philippine Reports has suffered from production problems, resulting in long delays in publication, as well as significant gaps within its published series. As a result, the privately published Supreme Court Reports Annotated (published by Central Professional Books, Inc.) has become more widely used than the Philippine Reports, even by the courts. The proper format for citation of the Supreme Court Reports Annotated is:
Fortich v. Corona, G.R. No. 131457, 24 April 1998, 289 SCRA 624


where:
  • Fortich v. Corona is the name of the case
  • G.R. No. 131457 is the case docket number originally assigned by the Supreme Court at the time the action was filed with the Court
  • 24 April 1998 is the exact date the decision of this case was promulgated
  • 289 is the volume number of the Supreme Court Reports Annotated where the case may be found
  • SCRA is the standard abbreviation of Supreme Court Reports Annotated
  • 624 is the page number in the Supreme Court Reports Annotated which contains the beginning of the decision. If this number is followed by a comma then another page number (i.e., 289 SCRA 624, 627), the latter number indicates the particular page where the annotated text can be found


Owing to the delays in the regular publication of the Philippine Reports, reliance on the SCRA has been tolerated, although if a case may be found at the Philippine Reports, it is preferred that the official reporter be cited in lieu of the SCRA.

When citing cases which have not yet been reported in the Philippine Reports or the SCRA, the above citation without reference to the SCRA is preferred (i.e., Fortich v. Corona, G.R. No. 131457, 24 April 1988)

Lower court decisions


As there are no official or unofficial reporters that regularly publish decisions of the Court of Appeals
Philippine Court of Appeals
The Court of Appeals of the Philippines is the Philippines' second highest judicial court, just after the Supreme Court. The court consists of 68 Associate Justices and 1 Presiding Justice...

 and other lower courts, citation of their decisions hews to the same format as cases not reported either in the Philippine Reports or the SCRA. Thus: (case name), (docket number), (Exact date of promulgation of decision).

Neutral citation


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. Judgments with neutral citations are freely available on the British and Irish Legal Information Institute website (www.bailii.org).
Neutral citations identify judgments independently of any series of reports, and cite only parties, year of judgment, court and case number. For example,

Rottman v MPC [2002] UKHL 20

identifies the 20th judgment in 2002 in the UK House of Lords. UKHL stands for UK House of Lords. EWHC and EWCA identify the England and Wales High Court and Court of Appeal respectively. These abbreviations are generally followed by an abbreviation indicating the court or division (e.g. Admin, Ch, Crim, Pat).

How to cite a case



If a neutral citation is available for a judgment, it should immediately follow the party names. If the judgment has also been reported in a law reports series, follow the neutral citation with the 'best report', which is usually from the official Law Reports series (Appeals Cases - AC, Chancery - Ch, Family - Fam, Queen's Bench - QB etc.).

The case of Rottman v MPC was reported in the Appeals Cases, so the citation should be:
  • Rottman v MPC [2002] UKHL 20, [2002] 2 AC 692.


This means that a report of the case and the judgment can be found in the 2002 volumes, vol 2, of the Law Reports series called Appeals Cases, beginning at page 692.

To cite a particular paragraph from the judgment, add the paragraph number in square brackets at the end of the citation:
  • Rottman v MPC [2002] UKHL 20, [2002] 2 AC 692 [58].


If a case is not reported in the Law Reports, the next best report is the Weekly Law Reports (e.g. [2002] 2 WLR 1315), and then the All England Reports (e.g. [2002] 2 All ER 865). In some situations, it might be preferable to cite a specialist series, e.g. Rottman v MPC was also cited in the Human Rights Law Reports, at [2002] HRLR 32.

For cases before 2001, cite the best report. If referring to a particular page of the judgment, give that page number after the page number on which the report begins. The following citation refers to page 573 of the Donoghue v Stevenson judgment:
  • Donoghue v Stevenson [1932] AC 562, 573.


England and Wales


The standard case citation format in England and Wales
England and Wales
England and Wales is a jurisdiction within the United Kingdom. It consists of England and Wales, two of the four countries of the United Kingdom...

 is:
Style of cause (year of decision), [year of report] volume report (series) page jurisdiction/court
Donoghue v Stevenson [1932] AC 562 (HL).
R v Dudley and Stephens
R v Dudley and Stephens
R v Dudley and Stephens [1884] 14 QBD 273 DC is a leading English criminal case that established a precedent, throughout the common law world, that necessity is no defense against a charge of murder. It concerned survival cannibalism following a shipwreck and its purported justification on the...

(1884) 14 QBD 273.


In England and Wales
England and Wales
England and Wales is a jurisdiction within the United Kingdom. It consists of England and Wales, two of the four countries of the United Kingdom...

 as with certain Commonwealth countries, the abbreviation "R" for rex (king) or regina (queen), is used for cases in which the state is a party (typically criminal cases or judicial review
Judicial review
Judicial review is the doctrine under which legislative and executive actions are subject to review by the judiciary. Specific courts with judicial review power must annul the acts of the state when it finds them incompatible with a higher authority...

 cases).

Square brackets "[ ]" are used when the year is essential to locating the report (e.g. the official law reports either - as with Donoghue v Stevenson, above - do not have volume numbers or, if there are multiple volumes in a single year, they are numbered 1, 2, etc.). Round brackets "" are used when the year is not essential but is useful for information purposes, e.g. in reports which have a cumulative volume number such as R v Dudley and Stevens, above.

Law Reports


The term "reporter", meaning a law report or a series of them, is not widely used in England and Wales. Before 1865, English courts used a large number of privately-printed reports, and cases were cited based on which report they appeared in. (This system was also used in the United States and other common law jurisdictions during that period).

There are two main unofficial law reports which report all areas of law, the Weekly Law Reports (WLR) and the All England Reports (All ER). In addition there are a number of unofficial specialist law reports which focus on a particular area, e.g. the Entertainment and Media Law Reports (EMLR) or the Criminal Appeal Reports (Cr App R).

For the citation of "The Law Reports" of the Incorporated Council of Law Reporting, see Law Reports
Law Reports
The Law Reports is the name of a series of law reports published by the Incorporated Council of Law Reporting.The Council maintains that they are "'the most authoritative reports' and should always be 'cited in preference where there is a choice'." This series is now divided into four main...

. These have been published since 1865. They have always been split into a number of different series, the current series being the Appeal Cases (AC), Chancery (Ch), Family (Fam) and Queen's Bench (QB) (or King's Bench—KB—depending on the monarch of the time). These 4 series are cited in preference to all others in court.

The table below is an incomplete list of law reports other than "The Law Reports", nominate reports and reprints.
Abbreviation Law Report years
All ER The All England Law Reports
All England Law Reports
The All England Law Reports are a long-running series of law reports covering cases from the court system in England and Wales....

1936 -
BCLC Butterworths Company Law Cases 1983 -
BHRC Butterworths Human Rights Cases 1996 -
BMLR Butterworths Medico-Legal Reports ???? -
Con LR Construction Law Reports 1985 -
Cr App R Criminal Appeal Reports 1908 -
Cr App R (S) Criminal Appeal Reports (Sentencing) 1979 -
Crim LR The Criminal Law Review
ECHR European Court of Human Rights Cases 1960 -
EGLR Estates Gazette Law Reports 1975 -
FCR Family Court Reports 1987 -
GCCR Goode Consumer Credit Reports 1882 -
The Independent The Independent
The Independent
The Independent is a British national morning newspaper published in London by Independent Print Limited, owned by Alexander Lebedev since 2010. It is nicknamed the Indy, while the Sunday edition, The Independent on Sunday, is the Sindy. Launched in 1986, it is one of the youngest UK national daily...

IRLR Industrial Relations Law Reports 1972 -
IP & T Butterworths Intellectual Property and Technology Cases 1999 -
JP Justice of the Peace Law Reports 2003 -
ITLR International Tax Law Reports 1998 -
Lloyd's Rep Lloyd's Law Reports 1919 -
LGR Butterworths Local Government Reports 1997 -
LRC Law Reports of the Commonwealth 1995 -
LT The Law Times Reports 1859 - 1947
LT (OS) The Law Times Reports, Old Series 1843 - 1859
OPLR Occupational Pensions Law Reports 1992 -
PLR Estates Gazette Planning Law Reports 1988 -
RPC Reports of Patent Cases 1939 -
SJ The Solicitors' Journal
Solicitors Journal
Solicitors Journal is a weekly legal journal published in the United Kingdom by Wilmington Publishing & Information Ltd. It was established in 1856 and covers "practical and independent updates and analysis about the latest developments affecting the legal profession."...

1856 -
STC Simon's Tax Cases 1973 -
TC Official Tax Case Reports 1883 -
The Times The Times
The Times
The Times is a British daily national newspaper, first published in London in 1785 under the title The Daily Universal Register . The Times and its sister paper The Sunday Times are published by Times Newspapers Limited, a subsidiary since 1981 of News International...

TLR The Times Law Reports 1885 - 1952
WLR The Weekly Law Reports 1953 -
WN Weekly Notes 1866 - 1952


The table below is a list of series that are reprints of earlier reports.
Abbreviation Law Report years
ER The English Reports
English Reports
The English Reports are a reprint in 178 volumes of nominate reports of judgments of the English Courts reported between 1220 and 1866. They contain most, but not all, of the nominate reports....

1220 - 1866
RR The Revised Reports
All ER Rep The All England Law Reports Reprint


For nominate reports, see Nominate reports
Nominate reports
Nominate reports is a legal term from common law jurisdictions referring to the various published reports of English cases in various Courts from the Middle Ages to the 1860s when law reporting was officially taken over by the Incorporated Council of Law Reporting, for example Edmund F...

.

Scotland


The standard case citation formats in Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 are:
Name of parties Year of decision, Year of report Volume Series Court Page
HM Advocate v Megrahi
Pan Am Flight 103 bombing trial
The Pan Am Flight 103 bombing trial began on 3 May 2000, 11 years, 4 months and 13 days after the destruction of Pan Am Flight 103 on 21 December 1988...

,
2000 JC 555
McFarlane v Tayside Health Board, 2000 SC (HL) 1
Forbes v Underwood, (1886) 13 R (or 'Rettie') 465
Smith v Brown, [2005] CSIH 1


The Supreme Court has issued a practice note on the use of neutral citation.

United States


The standard case citation format in the United States is:
Roe v. Wade
Roe v. Wade
Roe v. Wade, , was a controversial landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court on the issue of abortion. The Court decided that a right to privacy under the due process clause in the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution extends to a woman's decision to have an abortion,...

, 410 U.S. 113 (1973)


where:
  • Roe v. Wade is the abbreviated name of the case. Generally, the first name Roe is the surname of the plaintiff
    Plaintiff
    A plaintiff , also known as a claimant or complainant, is the term used in some jurisdictions for the party who initiates a lawsuit before a court...

    , who is the party who filed the suit for an original case, or the appellant, the party appealing in a case being appealed from a lower court, or the petitioner
    Petitioner
    A petitioner is a person who pleads with governmental institution for a legal remedy or a redress of grievances, through use of a petition.-In the courts:The petitioner may seek a legal remedy if the state or another private person has acted unlawfully...

     when litigating in the high court
    Supreme court
    A supreme court is the highest court within the hierarchy of many legal jurisdictions. Other descriptions for such courts include court of last resort, instance court, judgment court, high court, or apex court...

     of a jurisdiction; and Wade
    Henry Wade
    Henry Menasco Wade , was a Texas lawyer who participated in two of the most notable U.S. court cases of the 20th century, the prosecution of Jack Ruby for killing Lee Harvey Oswald and the U.S. Supreme Court's decision legalizing abortion, Roe v. Wade...

    is the surname of the defendant
    Defendant
    A defendant or defender is any party who is required to answer the complaint of a plaintiff or pursuer in a civil lawsuit before a court, or any party who has been formally charged or accused of violating a criminal statute...

    , the party responding to the suit, or the appellee, the party responding to the appeal, or the respondent
    Respondent
    A respondent is a person who is called upon to issue a response to a communication made by another. In legal usage, this specifically refers to the defendant in a legal proceeding commenced by a petition, or to an appellee, or the opposing party, in an appeal of a decision by an initial fact-finder...

    , when defending in the high court of the jurisdiction. There are exceptions. For example, under the Rules of the United States Supreme Court, parties are typically referred to as petitioner
    Petitioner
    A petitioner is a person who pleads with governmental institution for a legal remedy or a redress of grievances, through use of a petition.-In the courts:The petitioner may seek a legal remedy if the state or another private person has acted unlawfully...

     and respondent
    Respondent
    A respondent is a person who is called upon to issue a response to a communication made by another. In legal usage, this specifically refers to the defendant in a legal proceeding commenced by a petition, or to an appellee, or the opposing party, in an appeal of a decision by an initial fact-finder...

     under Rule 12 (when seeking discretionary review by writ of certiorari), but are occasionally referred to as plaintiff
    Plaintiff
    A plaintiff , also known as a claimant or complainant, is the term used in some jurisdictions for the party who initiates a lawsuit before a court...

     and defendant
    Defendant
    A defendant or defender is any party who is required to answer the complaint of a plaintiff or pursuer in a civil lawsuit before a court, or any party who has been formally charged or accused of violating a criminal statute...

     under Rule 17 (when invoking the court's original jurisdiction as provided for in the U.S. Constitution) or as appellant and appellee under Rule 18 (when direct review is provided for by federal statute).
  • 410 is the volume number of the "reporter" in which the Court's written opinion in the Roe v. Wade is published,
  • U.S. is the abbreviation of the reporter, here "U.S." stands for United States Reports
    United States Reports
    The United States Reports are the official record of the rulings, orders, case tables, and other proceedings of the Supreme Court of the United States. Opinions of the court in each case, prepended with a headnote prepared by the Reporter of Decisions, and any concurring or dissenting opinions are...

    ,
  • 113 is the page number (in volume 410 of United States Reports) where the opinion begins, and
  • 1973 is the year in which the court rendered its decision.
  • The abbreviated name of the court will be included inside the parenthesis before the year if the name of the court is not obvious from the reporter; this rule comes into play because certain reporters, such as members of the West National Reporter System, publish opinions originating from multiple courts. In this example, the name of the court (United States Supreme Court) is obvious (since only decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court are published in the U.S. Reports) and is thus omitted.


Case citations are used to find a particular case, both when looking up a case in a printed reporter and when accessing it via the Internet or services such as LexisNexis or Westlaw.

This format also allows different cases with the same parties to be easily differentiated. For example, looking for the U.S. Supreme Court
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

 case of Miller v. California
Miller v. California
Miller v. California, was an important United States Supreme Court case involving what constitutes unprotected obscenity for First Amendment purposes...

would yield four cases, some involving different people named Miller, and each involving different issues.

Supreme Court of the United States


Cases from the Supreme Court of the United States
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

 are officially printed in the United States Reports. A citation to the United States Reports looks like this:
  • Brown v. Board of Education
    Brown v. Board of Education
    Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 , was a landmark decision of the United States Supreme Court that declared state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students unconstitutional. The decision overturned the Plessy v. Ferguson decision of 1896 which...

    , 347 U.S. 483 (1954).
  • Miranda v. Arizona
    Miranda v. Arizona
    Miranda v. Arizona, , was a landmark 5–4 decision of the United States Supreme Court. The Court held that both inculpatory and exculpatory statements made in response to interrogation by a defendant in police custody will be admissible at trial only if the prosecution can show that the defendant...

    , 384 U.S. 436 (1966).


Many court decisions are published by more than one reporter. A citation to two or more reporters for a given court decision is called a "parallel citation". For U.S. Supreme Court decisions, there are several unofficial reporters, including the Supreme Court Reporter (S. Ct.) and United States Supreme Court Reports, Lawyers' Edition (commonly known simply as Lawyer's Edition) (L. Ed.), which are printed by private companies and provide further annotations to the opinions of the Court. Although a citation to the latter two is not required, some attorneys and legal writers prefer to cite all three case reporters at once:
  • Griswold v. Connecticut
    Griswold v. Connecticut
    Griswold v. Connecticut, , was a landmark case in which the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the Constitution protected a right to privacy. The case involved a Connecticut law that prohibited the use of contraceptives...

    , 381 U.S. 479, 85 S. Ct. 1678, 14 L. Ed. 2d 510 (1965)


The "2d" after the L. Ed. signifies the second series of the Lawyers' Edition. United States case reporters are sequentially numbered, but the volume number is never higher than 999. When the 1,000th volume is reached (the threshold in earlier years was lower), the volume number is reset to 1 and a "2d" is appended after the reporter's abbreviation. Some case reporters are in their third series, and a few are approaching their fourth.

Some very old Supreme Court cases have odd-looking citations, such as Marbury v. Madison
Marbury v. Madison
Marbury v. Madison, is a landmark case in United States law and in the history of law worldwide. It formed the basis for the exercise of judicial review in the United States under Article III of the Constitution. It was also the first time in Western history a court invalidated a law by declaring...

, 5 U.S. (1 Cranch) 137 (1803). The "(1 Cranch)" refers to the fact that, before there was a reporter series known as the United States Reports compiled by the Supreme Court's Reporter of Decisions
Supreme Court of the United States Reporter of Decisions
The Reporter of Decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States is the official charged with editing and publishing the Court's opinions both when announced and when they are published in permanent bound volumes of the United States Reports. The Reporter of Decisions is responsible for only...

, cases were gathered, bound together, and sold privately by the Court's Reporter of Decisions. In this example, Marbury was first reported in an edition by William Cranch
William Cranch
William Cranch was an American judge and the second reporter of decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States.-Early life:Born in Weymouth, Massachusetts, he was a nephew of Abigail Adams...

, who was responsible for publishing Supreme Court reports from 1801 to 1815. Such reports, named for the individual who gathered them and hence called "nominative reports," existed from 1790 to 1874. Beginning in 1874, the U.S. government created the United States Reports, and at the same time simultaneously numbered the volumes previously published privately as part of a single series and began numbering sequentially from that point. In this way, "5 U.S. (1 Cranch)" means that it is the 5th overall volume of the United States Reports series, but the first that was originally published by William Cranch
William Cranch
William Cranch was an American judge and the second reporter of decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States.-Early life:Born in Weymouth, Massachusetts, he was a nephew of Abigail Adams...

; four volumes of opinions prior to that were (for example) published by Alexander Dallas
Alexander J. Dallas (statesman)
Alexander James Dallas was an American statesman who served as the U.S. Treasury Secretary under President James Madison....

 (for example, "4 U.S. (4 Dall.)"), and after Cranch's 9 volumes, 12 more were published by Henry Wheaton (e.g., "15 U.S. (2 Wheat.)").

When a case has been decided, but not yet published in the case reporter, the citation may note the volume but leave blank the page of the case reporter until it is determined. For example, Bowles v. Russell
Bowles v. Russell
Bowles v. Russell, 551 U.S. 205 , is a Supreme Court of the United States case in which the Court determined that the federal courts of appeals lack jurisdiction to hear habeas appeals that are filed late, even if the district court said the petitioner had additional time to file.- Early history of...

, 551 U.S. ___ (2007).

See the Supreme Court of the United States Reporter of Decisions
Supreme Court of the United States Reporter of Decisions
The Reporter of Decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States is the official charged with editing and publishing the Court's opinions both when announced and when they are published in permanent bound volumes of the United States Reports. The Reporter of Decisions is responsible for only...

 for other edition names.

In the caption of a Supreme Court case, the first name listed is the name of the petitioning (appealing) party, followed by the party responding (respondent) to the appeal. In most cases, the appealing party was the losing party in the prior court. This is the same practice used in cases in the federal courts of appeal.

Lower federal courts


United States court of appeals
United States court of appeals
The United States courts of appeals are the intermediate appellate courts of the United States federal court system...

 cases are published in the Federal Reporter
Federal Reporter
The Federal Reporter is a case law reporter in the United States that is published by West Publishing. It begins with cases decided in 1880. It was preceded by Federal Cases...

(F., F.2d, or F.3d). United States district court
United States district court
The United States district courts are the general trial courts of the United States federal court system. Both civil and criminal cases are filed in the district court, which is a court of law, equity, and admiralty. There is a United States bankruptcy court associated with each United States...

 cases and cases from some specialized courts are published in the Federal Supplement
Federal Supplement
The Federal Supplement is a case law reporter published by West Publishing in the United States that includes select opinions of the United States district courts. Though West is a private company that does not have a legal monopoly over the court opinions it publishes, it has so dominated the...

(F. Supp. or F. Supp. 2d). Both are published by Thomson West
Thomson West
West publishes legal, business, and regulatory information in print, and on electronic services such as Westlaw. Since the late 19th century, West has been one of the most prominent publishers of legal materials in the United States...

; they are technically unofficial reporters, but have become widely accepted as the de facto "official" reporters of the lower federal courts because of the absence of a true official reporter. (Of the federal appeals and district courts, only one, the D.C. Circuit, has an official reporter, United States Court of Appeals Reports, and even that one is rarely used today.)

When lower federal court opinions are cited, the citation includes the name of the court. This is placed in the parentheses immediately before the year. Some examples:
  • Geary v. Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish Sch., 7 F.3d 324 (3d Cir. 1993) - a case in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
    United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
    The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit is a federal court with appellate jurisdiction over the district courts for the following districts:* District of Delaware* District of New Jersey...

  • Glassroth v. Moore
    Glassroth v. Moore
    Glassroth v. Moore, CV-01-T-1268-N, 229 F. Supp. 2d 1290 , and its companion case Maddox and Howard v. Moore, CV-01-T-1269-N, concern then-Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy S...

    , 229 F. Supp. 2d 1290 (M.D. Ala. 2002) - a case in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama


An exception is the California federal courts, where California citation (see below) is often substituted for normal federal citation in regular litigation practice.

State courts


State court decisions are published in several places. Many states have their own official state reporters, which publish decisions of one or more of that state's courts. Reporters that publish decisions of a state's highest court are abbreviated the same as the state's name (note: this is the traditional abbreviation, not the postal abbreviation), regardless of what the actual title of the reporter is. Thus, the official reporter of decisions of the California Supreme Court (titled California Reports) is abbreviated "Cal." (or, for subsequent series, "Cal. 2d," "Cal. 3d" or "Cal. 4th").
  • Palsgraf v. Long Island R.R. Co.
    Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad Co.
    Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad Co., 248 N.Y. 339, 162 N.E. 99 , was a decision by the New York Court of Appeals written by Chief Judge Benjamin Cardozo, a leading figure in the development of American common law and later a Supreme Court justice...

    , 248 N.Y. 339 (1928) - a case in the New York Court of Appeals
    New York Court of Appeals
    The New York Court of Appeals is the highest court in the U.S. state of New York. The Court of Appeals consists of seven judges: the Chief Judge and six associate judges who are appointed by the Governor to 14-year terms...

    , reported in New York Reports. Note that the New York Court of Appeals is actually the highest court in New York.

  • Green v. Chi. Tribune Co., 286 Ill. App. 3d 1 (App. Ct. 1996) - a case in the Illinois Appellate Court
    Illinois Appellate Court
    The Illinois Appellate Court is the court of first appeal for civil and criminal cases arising in the Illinois Circuit Courts. Three Illinois Appellate Court judges hear each case and the concurrence of two is necessary to render a decision. The Illinois Appellate Court will render its opinion in...

    , reported in Illinois Appellate Court Reports. Note that, in contrast to New York, the Illinois Appellate Court is only the intermediate court of appeals in Illinois; decisions of the Illinois Supreme Court are reported in Illinois Reports, abbreviated "Ill." (or "Ill. 2d").


In addition to the official reporters, Thomson West
Thomson West
West publishes legal, business, and regulatory information in print, and on electronic services such as Westlaw. Since the late 19th century, West has been one of the most prominent publishers of legal materials in the United States...

 publishes several series of "regional reporters" which cover several states each. These are the North Eastern Reporter, Atlantic Reporter, South Eastern Reporter, Southern Reporter, South Western Reporter, North Western Reporter, and Pacific Reporter. California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

, Illinois
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

, and New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

 also each have their own line of Thomson West reporters, because of the large volume of cases generated in those states (titled, respectively, West's California Reporter, Illinois Decisions, and West's New York Supplement). Some smaller states (like South Dakota
South Dakota
South Dakota is a state located in the Midwestern region of the United States. It is named after the Lakota and Dakota Sioux American Indian tribes. Once a part of Dakota Territory, South Dakota became a state on November 2, 1889. The state has an area of and an estimated population of just over...

) have stopped publishing their own official reporters, and instead have certified the appropriate West regional reporter as their "official" reporter.

Here are some examples of how to cite West reporters:
  • Jackson v. Commonwealth, 583 S.E.2d 780 (Va. Ct. App. 2003) - a case in the Virginia Court of Appeals (an intermediate appellate court) published in the South Eastern Reporter
  • Foxworth v. Maddox, 137 So. 161 (Fla. 1931) - a case in the Florida Supreme Court
    Florida Supreme Court
    The Supreme Court of the State of Florida is the highest court in the U.S. state of Florida. The Supreme Court consists of seven judges: the Chief Justice and six Justices who are appointed by the Governor to 6-year terms and remain in office if retained in a general election near the end of each...

     published in the Southern Reporter
  • People v. Brown, 282 N.Y.S.2d 497 (1967) - a case in the New York Court of Appeals
    New York Court of Appeals
    The New York Court of Appeals is the highest court in the U.S. state of New York. The Court of Appeals consists of seven judges: the Chief Judge and six associate judges who are appointed by the Governor to 14-year terms...

     (New York's highest court) published in the New York Supplement. The case also appears in West's regional reporter: People v. Brown, 229 N.E.2d 192 (N.Y. 1967).


Abbreviations for lower courts vary by state, as each state has its own system of trial courts and intermediate appellate courts.

When a case appears in both an official reporter and a regional reporter, either citation can be used. Generally, citing to the regional reporter is preferred, since out-of-state attorneys are more likely to have access to these. Many lawyers prefer to include both citations. Some state courts require that parallel citations (in this case, citing to both the official reporter and an unofficial regional reporter) be used when citing cases from any court in that state's system.

Some states, notably California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

 and New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

, have their own citation systems that differ significantly from the various federal and national standards. Citations in California style put the year between the names of the parties and the reference to the case reporter. Citations in New York style wrap the year in brackets instead of parentheses. Both New York and California wrap an entire citation in parentheses when it is used as a stand-alone sentence. New York puts the terminating period outside the parentheses, but California puts it inside. New York wraps just the reporter and page references in parentheses when the citation is used as a clause.

Either way, both state styles differ from the national/Bluebook style of simply dropping in the citation as a separate sentence without further adornment. Both systems use less punctuation and spacing in their reporter abbreviations.

For example, assuming that it is being placed as a stand-alone sentence, the Brown case above would be cited (using the official reporter) to a New York court as:
  • (People v Brown, 20 NY2d 238 [1967]).


And, again, as a stand-alone sentence, the famous Greenman product liability
Product liability
Product liability is the area of law in which manufacturers, distributors, suppliers, retailers, and others who make products available to the public are held responsible for the injuries those products cause...

 case would be cited to a California court as:
  • (Greenman v. Yuba Power Products, Inc. (1963) 59 Cal.2d 57.)


Like the United States Supreme Court, some very old state case citations include an abbreviation of the name of either the private publisher or the reporter of decisions
Reporter of decisions
The Reporter of Decisions is the official responsible for publishing the decisions of a court. Traditionally, the decisions were published in books known as case reporters or law reports...

, a state-appointed officer who originally collected and published the cases. For example, in Hall v. Bell, 47 Mass. (6 Met.) 431 (1843), the citation is to volume 47 of Massachusetts Reports, which, like United States Reports, was started in the latter half of the 19th century and incorporated a number of prior editions originally published privately into the series, and began numbering from that point; "6 Met." refers to the 6th volume that had originally been published privately by Theron Metcalf
Theron Metcalf
Theron Metcalf was a New England jurist and a judge of the Massachusetts Supreme Court.-Biography:...

. An example of a case cited to a reporter that has not been subsequently incorporated into an officially-published series is Pierson v. Post
Pierson v. Post
Pierson v. Post, 3 Cai. R. 175, 2 Am. Dec. 264 , is a Supreme Court of New York case about a disagreement over a dead fox that serves as an important cornerstone in American legal education.- Background :...

, 3 Cai. 175 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 1804), reported in volume 3 of Caines' Reports, page 175, named for George Caines
George Caines
George Caines was the first official reporter of cases in the United States, appointed by the Court of Appeals of New York in accordance with legislation enacted by that state in April, 1804. He occupied the office for one year, producing three volumes of the Reports, containing decisions from May...

, who had been appointed to report New York cases; the case was before the New York Supreme Court of Judicature (now defunct). Most states gave up this practice in the mid- to late-19th century, but Delaware
Delaware
Delaware is a U.S. state located on the Atlantic Coast in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. It is bordered to the south and west by Maryland, and to the north by Pennsylvania...

 persisted until 1920.

Unpublished decisions



A growing number of court decisions are not published in case reporters. For example, only 7% of the opinions of the California intermediate courts (the Courts of Appeal
California Court of Appeal
The California Courts of Appeal are the state intermediate appellate courts in the U.S. state of California. The state is geographically divided into six appellate districts...

) are published each year. This is mainly because judges certify only significant decisions for publication, due to the massive number of frivolous appeals flowing through the courts and the importance of avoiding information overload. It is also argued that this is in part because in many states, especially California, the legislature has failed to expand the judiciary to keep up with population growth (for various political and fiscal reasons). To deal with their crushing caseloads, many judges prefer to write shorter-than-normal opinions that dispose of minor issues in the case in a sentence or two. They avoid publishing such abbreviated opinions, however, so as not to risk creating bad precedent
Precedent
In common law legal systems, a precedent or authority is a principle or rule established in a legal case that a court or other judicial body may apply when deciding subsequent cases with similar issues or facts...

s.

Attorneys have several options in citing "unpublished" decisions:
  • For cases that have not been published or put in an electronic database, or very recently-decided cases that have not yet been published or put in an electronic database, a citation to the case's docket number before the court that decided it is required.
    • Groucho Marx Prods. v. Playboy Enters., No. 77 Civ. 1782 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 30, 1977) - a decision of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York; the docket number and specific date allow a researcher to track down the printed copy maintained by the court if needed (legal citation forms strongly prefer citations to traditional printed resources).
  • Even though only some decisions of the U.S. Courts of Appeal are considered "published" (those appearing in Federal Reporter), Thomson West has recently started making available all decisions officially considered "unpublished" in a separate publication called Federal Appendix (abbreviated "F. App'x").
  • Cases which are intentionally left officially unpublished are nonetheless often "published" on computer services, such as LexisNexis
    LexisNexis
    LexisNexis Group is a company providing computer-assisted legal research services. In 2006 it had the world's largest electronic database for legal and public-records related information...

     and Westlaw
    Westlaw
    Westlaw is one of the primary online legal research services for lawyers and legal professionals in the United States and is a part of West. In addition, it provides proprietary database services...

    . These services have their own citation formats based on the year of the case, an abbreviation indicating the computer service (or a specific database of that computer service), and a serial number (issued sequentially from 1 as documents are added to the database each year); citations to online databases also usually include the case's docket
    Docket
    Docket may refer to:*Docket , the official schedule of proceedings in lawsuits pending in a court of law. Term also includes a case identification number and reference point and case history for all case work involving a particular case....

     number and the specific date on which it was decided (due to the preference for citation to traditional printed resources). Examples include:
    • Fuqua Homes, Inc. v. Beattie, No. 03-3587, 2004 WL 2495842 (8th Cir. Nov. 8, 2004) - a case found on the Westlaw electronic database, decided by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit; the citation includes the case's original docket number (No. 03-3587), and a citation to the electronic database that indicates the year of decision, the database (WL for Westlaw) and a unique serial number in that database (2495842).
    • Chavez v. Metro. Dist. Comm'n, No. 3:02CV458(MRK), 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11266 (D. Conn. June 1, 2004) - a case decided by the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut; the citation includes the case's original docket number (No. 3:02CV458(MRK)), the year of decision, the database (U.S. Dist. LEXIS, indicating the LexisNexis database for U.S. District Court cases), and a unique serial number in that database (11266).


Some court systems—such as the California state court system and the federal Court of Appeals for the Second, Seventh, and Ninth Circuits—forbid attorneys to cite unpublished cases as precedent. Other systems allow citation of unpublished cases only under specific circumstances. For example, in Kentucky
Kentucky
The Commonwealth of Kentucky is a state located in the East Central United States of America. As classified by the United States Census Bureau, Kentucky is a Southern state, more specifically in the East South Central region. Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth...

, unpublished cases from that state's courts can only be cited if the case was decided after January 1, 2003 and "there is no published opinion that would adequately address the issue before the court." From 2004 to 2006, federal judges debated whether the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure
Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure
The Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure are a set of rules, promulgated by the Supreme Court of the United States on recommendation of an advisory committee, to govern procedures in cases in the United States Courts of Appeals....

 (FRAP) should be amended so that unpublished cases in all circuits could be cited as precedent. In 2006, the Supreme Court, over the objection of several hundred judges and lawyers, adopted a new Rule 32.1 of FRAP requiring that federal courts allow citation of unpublished cases. The rule took effect on January 1, 2007.

Vendor-neutral citations


With the rise of the web, many courts placed new cases on websites. Some were published while others never lost their "unpublished" status. The major legal citation systems required cites to the officially published page numbers, in which publishers such as West Publishing claimed a copyright interest. (In view of the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Feist Publications v. Rural Telephone Service
Feist Publications v. Rural Telephone Service
Feist Publications, Inc., v. Rural Telephone Service Co., 499 U.S. 340 , commonly called Feist v. Rural, is an important United States Supreme Court case establishing that information alone without a minimum of original creativity cannot be protected by copyright...

, that the mere alphabetical listing of telephone subscribers was an inadequate amount of effort to be valid to obtain copyright, the claim of copyright on page numbering of court decisions is probably not valid.)

A vendor-neutral citation movement led to provisions being made for citations to web-based cases and other legal materials. A few courts modified their rules to specifically take into account cases "published" on the web.

An example of a vendor-neutral citation:
  • Equal. Found. of Greater Cincinnati, Inc. v. City of Cincinnati, 1997 FED App. 0318P (6th Cir.) - a 1997 case decided by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit; the citation to the numbering system adopted by the court ("1997 FED App. 0318P") eliminates the need to cite to a specific vendor's product, in this case Thomson West's Federal Reporter (i.e., 128 F.3d 289).

Pinpoint citations


In practice, most lawyers go one step farther, once they have developed the correct citation for a case using the rules discussed above. Most court opinions contain holdings on multiple issues, so lawyers need to cite to the page that contains the specific holding they wish to invoke in their own case. Such citations are known as pinpoint citations, "pin cites," or "jump cites."

For example, in Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the word "person" as used in the Fourteenth Amendment does not include the unborn. That particular holding appears on page 158 of the volume in which the Roe decision was published. A full pin cite to Roe for that holding would be as follows:
  • Roe v. Wade
    Roe v. Wade
    Roe v. Wade, , was a controversial landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court on the issue of abortion. The Court decided that a right to privacy under the due process clause in the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution extends to a woman's decision to have an abortion,...

    , 410 U.S. 113, 158 (1973).


And a parallel cite to all three U.S. Supreme Court reporters, combined with pin cites for all three, would produce:
  • Roe v. Wade
    Roe v. Wade
    Roe v. Wade, , was a controversial landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court on the issue of abortion. The Court decided that a right to privacy under the due process clause in the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution extends to a woman's decision to have an abortion,...

    , 410 U.S. 113, 158, 93 S. Ct. 705, 729, 35 L. Ed. 2d 147, 180 (1973).


But in its opinions, the Court usually provides a direct pin cite only to the official reporter. The two unofficial reporters, when they reprint the Court's opinions, add on parallel cites to each other, but do not add pin cites. Therefore, a citation to Roe v. Wade in a later Supreme Court decision as viewed on Lexis or Westlaw would appear as follows:
  • Roe v. Wade
    Roe v. Wade
    Roe v. Wade, , was a controversial landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court on the issue of abortion. The Court decided that a right to privacy under the due process clause in the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution extends to a woman's decision to have an abortion,...

    , 410 U.S. 113, 158, 93 S. Ct. 705, 35 L. Ed. 2d 147 (1973).


Even then, such citations are still quite lengthy, and obviously look quite mysterious and intimidating to laypersons when they try to read court opinions. Since the 1980s, there has been an ongoing debate among American judges as to whether they should relegate such lengthy citations to footnotes to improve the readability of their opinions, as strongly urged by Bryan Garner, one of the leading authors on legal writing style issues. Most judges do relegate some citations to footnotes (though the refusal of jurists such as Justice Stephen Breyer
Stephen Breyer
Stephen Gerald Breyer is an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1994, and known for his pragmatic approach to constitutional law, Breyer is generally associated with the more liberal side of the Court....

 and Judge Richard Posner
Richard Posner
Richard Allen Posner is an American jurist, legal theorist, and economist who is currently a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago and a Senior Lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School...

 to use footnotes in their opinions is well-known).

Types of citations


There are two types of citations: proprietary and public domain
Public domain
Works are in the public domain if the intellectual property rights have expired, if the intellectual property rights are forfeited, or if they are not covered by intellectual property rights at all...

 citations. There are many citation guides; the most commonly acknowledged is called the Bluebook
Bluebook
The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation, a style guide, prescribes the most widely used legal citation system in the United States. The Bluebook is compiled by the Harvard Law Review Association, the Columbia Law Review, the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, and the Yale Law Journal....

, published by student-run law review
Law review
A law review is a scholarly journal focusing on legal issues, normally published by an organization of students at a law school or through a bar association...

s at several eminent law school
Law school
A law school is an institution specializing in legal education.- Law degrees :- Canada :...

s, namely Columbia Law Review, Harvard Law Review, University of Pennsylvania Law Review and Yale Law Journal. Public domain citations are those which refer to the official reporters, rather than a publication service such as Westlaw
Westlaw
Westlaw is one of the primary online legal research services for lawyers and legal professionals in the United States and is a part of West. In addition, it provides proprietary database services...

, LexisNexis
LexisNexis
LexisNexis Group is a company providing computer-assisted legal research services. In 2006 it had the world's largest electronic database for legal and public-records related information...

, particular legal journals, or specialization-specific reporters.

States with their own unique style for court documents and case opinions also publish their own style guides which include information on their citation rules.

External links


Law by state


See also

  • Oxford Standard for Citation Of Legal Authorities
    Oxford Standard for Citation Of Legal Authorities
    The or OSCOLA is the modern method of legal citation in the United Kingdom. First developed by Peter Birks of the University of Oxford Faculty of Law, and now in its 4th edition, it has been adopted by most law schools and publishers in the United Kingdom as well as the courts.-Cases:Cases are to...

     or "OSCOLA"
  • Bluebook
    Bluebook
    The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation, a style guide, prescribes the most widely used legal citation system in the United States. The Bluebook is compiled by the Harvard Law Review Association, the Columbia Law Review, the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, and the Yale Law Journal....


Category:Case law reporters
  • Citator
    Citator
    In legal research, a citator is a citation index of legal resources, one of the best-known of which in the United States is Shepard's Citations. Given a reference of a legal decision, a citator allows the researcher to find newer documents which cite the original document and thus to reconstruct...

  • German legal citation
    German legal citation
    As in most countries, Germany has a standard way of citing its legal codes and case law; an essentially identical system of citation is also used in Austria.-Citing portions of the German legal code:...

  • Law report
    Law report
    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.The term reporter was...

  • Legal research
    Legal research
    Legal research is "the process of identifying and retrieving information necessary to support legal decision-making. In its broadest sense, legal research includes each step of a course of action that begins with an analysis of the facts of a problem and concludes with the application and...


External links