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Primary Sources Guide

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Traditional Citation

When citing to a printed law reporter, the traditional form of citation requires these elements:

  •  the case name, or "style of cause" in italics
  •  v to separate names (indicates language of case is English) in italics      
  •  the year of the decision (in round brackets, followed by a comma)
  •  the volume number
  •  the abbreviated title of the reporter (e.g. - DLR for Dominion Law Reports)
  •  the series number, if included, (in round brackets)
  •  the starting page number
  •  the abbreviated name of the court, if not included in the reporter name (in round brackets)

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 case name or "style of cause" (in italics, followed by a comma)
  •      v to separate names
  •      the year of the decision
  •      the court identifier (e.g. - BCSC for British Columbia
  •      Supreme Court)
  •      the decision number (also called case or docket number)

ExampleR v Coulson, 2003 BCSC 144.