Legal Citation

International Legal Research

Information about Legal Citation in free legal resources:

Treaties & Agreements

International Organizations

Jurisprudence $ Commentary

European Union

IP Law

Legal Citation

Legal citations are the references in the text or in footnotes to the primary source of the rule being used, the source of proof or authority.

In the United States

In the United States, if you are searching for a legal citation you must use the precise format shown below, including exact punctuation. For other types of references such as newspaper and magazine articles, see the article on References Citation .

In the UK

In the Uk, generally the legal citation standard is the OSCOLA (the Oxford Standard for Citation of Legal Authorities) style, which is in keeping with legal practice in the UK and other countries. OSCOLA is a footnote1 style; it does not use in-text citations or endnotes.

The Law Reports series are regarded as the most authoritative reports and if a case is reported in this series, it should generally be cited in preference to any other report. If a judgment is not reported in the Law Reports, cite the Weekly Law Reports or the All England Law Reports. If a judgment is not reported in any of these general series, then cite a specialist series, such as the Family Law Reports or the Criminal Appeal Reports.

In the European Union

Since 1989, EU cases have been numbered according to whether they were registered at the European Court of Justice (ECJ) or the Court of First Instance (CFI) and given the prefix C- (for ECJ cases) or T- (for CFI cases). Cases prior to 1989 have no prefix.

In citing European Union case law, it is advisable to refer to the European Court Reports (ECR). ECJ cases are reported in volume one (ECR I-) and CFI cases are reported in volume two (ECR II-). If an ECR reference is not available, you may use the Common Market Law Reports (CMLR). Some cases are also reported in the Law Reports, the Weekly Law Reports and/or the All England Law Reports (European Cases).

For unreported cases, academics, students and the European Union institutions cite the notice in the Official Journal (OJ). If the case is not yet reported in the OJ, it is possible to cite the case number and case name, followed by the court and date of judgment in brackets.

When use pinpoints in EU legal citation, use ‘para’ pr ‘paras’ after a comma.

When citing an opinion of an Advocate General, add the words ‘opinion of AG *name+’ after the case citation and a comma, and before any pinpoint.

In Canada

In Canada, you can use the Canadian Quicklaw™ Citation Formats. In this case you can search also for Canadian legal material on the following content:
• Canadian Cases
• Canadian Legislation
• Canadian Law Journals

When typing in a citation in these canadian legal citation format it is not necessary to enter brackets, punctuation, capitalization or spaces. But exceptions to this rule include the FC citation, and some older Ontario Reports citations. FC can stand for the Federal Court Reports or the Federal Court neutral citation. Some older Ontario Reports citations do not have a volume/edition number, and therefore can be confused with other citations. Be sure to always enter spaces, capitals and/or periods when using these citations.

Legal citation of Lawi Encyclopedia

Because Lawi is an electronic source, the citations of Lawi and other legal source of information which are only available electronically should end with the web address (URL) in angled brackets followed by the date of most recent access.

Cite the Lawi encyclopedia as you would a book, but exclude the author or editor and publisher and include the edition and year of issue or reissue. Pinpoints to paragraphs come after the publication information.

Remember that some of the publication details (such as page numbers) are not be available. Citation advice is offered by the Lawi Encyclopedia. Please follow it.

Network of Legal Citations

Scholars often resort to metaphor to describe the complex structures of legal authority. See, for instance, “How Long Is the Coastline of the Law? Thoughts on the Fractal Nature of Legal Systems” or Bramble Bush: On Our Law and Its Study. Thomas A. Smith, a law professor at the University of San Diego, advocates instead for the precision of network theory. Smith notes that networks are crucial to understanding many other disciplines: the cellular network in biology, for example, or networks of producers and consumers in economics. The lattice of cases, opinions, and statutes-all connected by citations-is a network as well, Smith argues. But little has been done to visualize it, or investigate how it works.

Through collaborations with LexisNexis, software engineers, and math and computer science professors, Smith has started to chart how those cases, opinions, and statutes connect to one another. Influence, he’s found, tends to reside with a relatively small number of cases: It seems that you need citations in order to get citations. In a study of more than four million federal and state cases, almost a quarter were cited just once before lapsing into obscurity. Among all Supreme Court cases, 56 percent of the citations were made to just 2 percent of the cases. Meanwhile, in law reviews, nearly 80 percent of citations refer to just 17 percent of the 385,000 articles from 726 journals in Smith’s sample.

Smith suggests that the law has grown into a large network that organizes itself into small clusters of influence. He believes that mapping the Web of Law, as he calls it, will change our understanding of how precedents emerge and evolve. The repeated citations of so few cases-and the lack of citation to so many others-might cause judges to think differently about how they rule in a given case. If ruling justly would establish an unsound precedent, but the judge realizes that his precedent is unlikely to be noticed, he may feel liberated to do the right thing.

Source: I/S: A Journal of Law and Policy for the Information Society, Volume 2, Number 2


In General

There is more information about this subjet related to the field of legal research in the legal encyclopedia.

The Bluebook and the ALWD Citation Manual

There is more information about this subjet related to the field of legal research in the legal encyclopedia.

Primary Authority

Secondary Authority

General Rules of Citation



See Also

References and Further Reading

About the Author/s and Reviewer/s

Author: international

Mentioned in these Entries

American Legal Systems: A Resource and Reference Guide, Annotations, Briefs in Law, Court Reports, History of Citation Indexing, Law Journals, Legal Abbreviations, Historical 2, Legal Abbreviations, Historical 3, Legal Abbreviations, Historical, Legal citation and the Encyclopedia, Legal research: Law of Libraries and Archives, References Citation, The Year Books.

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