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Law

A guide to using the library's resources

Understanding a case citation

referencing information needed for case citation

Some cases can be reported in more than one law report.  The Babbs v Press case has been reported in the Weekly Law Reports (blue citation), the All England Law Reports (green citation), the Lloyd's Reports (red citation) and the Solicitors' Journal (purple citation). 

A law report citation is linked to a published series of law reports.  There are a number of different law reports and, although there are no official reports, the Law Report series (published by the Incorporated Council of Law Reporting) are regarded as the most authoritative and should be cited in preference. A law report citation consists of the following:

  • the year (in round) or [square brackets]
  • abbreviation of the law report series
  • volume number
  • first page number

e.g. [2008] 1 AC 884.

Neutral citations, introduced in the UK in January 2001, are issued to all judgments from the House of Lords, Privy Council, Court of Appeal and Administrative Court.  A neutral citation is not linked to a law report series and consists of:

  • the year of judgment [in square brackets]
  • judgment number
  • abbreviation of the court
  • division (if applicable)

e.g. [2008] UKHL 13.

If the year is in square brackets it means that you need this information to be able to locate the case in a book on the shelf.  If the year is in round brackets it means that this information is not required to find the relevant book on the shelf.  

This information is not as important now that the majority of law reports are accessed electronically; however, do not change the brackets when referencing, follow what is given in either the print or electronic source.  

Table of Abbreviations can be found in the following books in the Law Library:

  • Current Law
  • Halsbury's Law of England and Wales
  • Legal Dictionaries

The Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations provides online access to legal abbreviations; search by abbreviation or title.