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APA Citation Style Guide (6th ed.): Legal Citation

Legal Citation

For a more detailed explanation of legal citation, see the Douglas College Library Legal Citation Online Guide

Legal Citation and APA

The APA Publication Manual, 6th edition states " References to legal materials...which include court decisions, statutes, other legislative materials, and various secondary sources, are more useful to the reader if they provide the information in the conventional format of legal citations." (pg. 216)

These guidelines adopt the style outlined in the Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation, 7th ed., McGill Law Journal/Carswell, 2010, also known as "The McGill Guide".  This is available in the the Library's Reference collection at KE 259 C264 2010.


Quick Links

In Text Citation - Statutes and Case Law


Cite the name of the statute and the year:

(Library Act, 1996)

"In text, give the popular or official name of the act (if any) and the year of the act."

(Publication manual, 2010, pp. 219-220)

Case Law

To cite the reference in text, give the case name, in italics, and the year:

At the end of the sentence   (R v Kirkland, 2005) 

or R v Kirkland (2005) within the sentence

"In text, cite the name of the case (italicized) and the year of the decision."

(Publication manual, 2010, p. 217)



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. - DLR for Dominion Law
     *  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. C.A.)

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

Example R 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 judgment 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

Example: R v Coulson, 2003 BCSC 144


Citing Legislation


Statutes are published at the end of each parliamentary session.  Every so often, all of the sessional volumes are pulled together, along with all existing statutes, into one complete set of statutes in alphabetical order, called the Revised Statutes.

The Statutes of Canada were last revised in 1985.  Statutes in effect at that time will thus be cited as RSC 1985, for the Revised Statutes of Canada, 1985.  The chapter number of the statute includes the initial letter of the name of the act.

ExamplesCriminal Code, RSC 1985, c. C - 46.      
                  Privacy Act, RSC 1985, c. P- 21.

Federal statutes passed after 1985 are cited as SC for the Statutes of Canada. In this case, chapters are indicated by numbers only, with no initial letters.

Examples Youth Criminal Justice Act, SC 2002. c. 1. 
                  Nunavut Act, SC 1993, c. 28.

If citing a specific section or subsection of an act, add the section/subsection numbers at the end of the citation.

ExampleYouth Criminal Justice Act, SC 2002. c. 1, s. 38(2).

The Statutes of British Columbia were last revised in 1996. Statutes in effect at that time are cited as RSBC 1996, for the Revised Statutes of British Columbia, 1996

ExampleMotor Vehicle Act, RSBC 1996, c. 318.      

BC provincial statutes passed after 1996 are cited as SBC for the Statutes of British Columbia.

ExampleParental Responsibility Act, SBC 2001, c. 45.   


When citing bills, include the bill number, the title of the bill, the session of Parliament, the number of the Parliament, and the year.   

              Bill C-27, An Act to Amend the
              Canadian Human Rights Act,
              2nd Session, 39th Parliament, 2007.

When citing provincial bills, include the jurisdiction.

Bill 16, Police Amendment Act, 1997,
              2nd Session, 36th Parliament, British
              Columbia, 1997.


Federal regulations were last consolidated in 1978.  Regulations in effect in 1978 are cited to the Consolidated Regulations of Canada (CRC).

     Air Cushion Vehicle Regulations, CRC, c. 4

After 1978, federal regulations are cited by the year and number.

    Trade-marks Regulations (1996), SOR/96-195

SOR stands for Statutory Orders and Regulations, 96 is the year and 195 is the number of the regulation.

Provincial regulations are also cited by year and number, but include the jurisdiction.  In the following example, 74 is the year and 181 is the number of the regulation.

ExampleBC Reg 181/74

APA for Online Legal Materials

APA suggests students follow the McGill Guide for legal material.  However, we have had many students wanting to cite online legal material in the APA format.  APA does not give specific guidance on this.    Other institutions have recommended different possible ways of citing online material.  Douglas College Library suggests you can follow the following examples (which take a similar approach to the examples for online legal documents in UBC's APA Style Guide ). 

The following examples were created by a Douglas College librarian.  You need to use your own judgment.  We suggest you check with your instructor first.


Apology Act, SBC 2006, c 19.  Retrieved from


In Text

(Apology Act, 2006)


Nunavut Act, SC 1993, c 28. Retrieved from


In Text

(Nunavut Act, 1993)


R v Villaroman, 2016 SCC 33, [2016] 1 SCR 1000. Retrieved from

In Text

(R v Villaroman, 2016)