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Criminology 1160 & 2260: Primary Legal Sources: Citing Case Law

Traditional Citation

The traditional form of citation requires these elements:

     *  the case name, or "style of cause" (in italics)       
     *  the year of the decision (in parentheses, followed by a comma)
     *  the volume number
      * the abbreviated title of the reporter (e.g. - D.L.R. for Dominion Law
        Reports)
     *  the series number, if included (in parentheses)
     *  the starting page number
      * the abbreviated name of the court, if not included in the
        reporter name (in parentheses)

ExampleR. v. Latimer (1995), 126 DLR (4th) 203 (Sask CA).

In the next example, the name of the court is not required because the name of the reporter, the Supreme Court Reports (S.C.R.), includes this information.

ExampleR. v. Chaisson, [2006] 1 SCR 415.

Neutral Citation

Many courts assign a neutral citation when a decision has been rendered.  It is independent of any printed reporter or online database.  When citing an electronic version of a decision, such as through Quicklaw or another database, it is not necessary to include the name of the database or online source.

If a judgement is published in a reporter, list the neutral citation first, followed by the printed reporter.  List at least one parallel citation, whenever possible.  The following example cites the case reported online through the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) first, followed by the report of the case published in the printed Dominion Law Reports (D.L.R.).

Example:   R. v. Latimer, 2001 SCC 1, 193 DLR (4th) 577.

Neutral citations include these elements:

     * the "style of cause" or case name (in italics, followed by a
       comma)
     * the year of the decision
     * the court identifier (e.g. - BCSC for British Columbia
       Supreme Court)
     * the decision number

ExampleR. v. Coulson, 2003 BCSC 144.