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United Kingdom Law: Case citation

Interpreting abbreviations

Common UK abbreviations

Table of most commonly encountered abbreviations for law reports in the UK

The Law Report Series

AC   Appeal Cases

Ch   Law Reports, Chancery Division

QB  Law Reports, Queen's Bench Division

KB   Law Reports, King's Bench Division

Fam Law Reports, Family Division

P     Law Reports, Probate Division

Other commercial series

All ER All England Reports

BCLC Butterworths Company Law Cases

Cr App R  Criminal Appeal Reports

Cr App R (S) Criminal Appeal Reports Sentencing

FSR  Fleet Street Reports

ICR  Industrial Cases Reports

IRLR  Industrial Relations Law Reports

LLoyd's LR Lloyd's Law Reports

P & CR  Property, Planning and Compensation reports

SC   Session Cases (Scottish)

WLR Weekly Law Reports

Unlocking UK case citations

If you are looking for a reported case you will usually have a full case citation.  Below is a breakdown of a citation.  To find what legal abbreviations stand for see the box on the left.


Unlocking UK case citations: neutral citations

Since the growth of electronic sources there have been unreported transcripts also available on all the major legal databases.  Following on from this (from 2002) came the use of neutral citations where by each case was given a neutral citation to identify it.  Confusingly these look like law report citations but consist of the year, the court abbreviation (for example EWCA Civ) and then the case number. If this is the only citation you have then you will not find it in any of the law reports series.  You will need to look at one of the electronic sources to find the case these include Westlaw (subscription), Lexis Library (subscription) or bailli (free resource).

Below is the usual format of these types of citations along with some examples.  EW stands for England and Wales, UK for United Kingdom.



[2005] EWCA Civ 101    (this is the 101st case of 2005 in the Court of Appeal Civil division)
[2006] EWHC 101 admin(101st case of 2006 in the High Court Administrative division)
[2003] UKHL (now SC) 5 (5th case of 2003 in the House of Lords (now the Supreme Court)

How to Cite Cases

This  focuses on using correct citations for cases in the UK.  There are many standards used for citing Oxford uses OSCOLA (Oxford Standard for Citation of Legal Authorities).

When citing cases there is a difference between cases before 2001/02 and after.

      Cases before  2001    Cases after 2001/02
 Reported  Party names / law report citation  Party names/ neutral citation/ law report citation
 Unreported  Party names / (unreported, date)  Party names/ Neutral citation



 Barrett v Enfield LBC [2001] 2 AC 550 

 Dingmar v Dingmar [2006] EWCA Civ 942;[2007] Ch.109 

 Example :


 Richards v Westgate Ltd (unreported, 20th July 1995)  Brampton v Rust [2008] EWHC 216 (QB)


 Using Square and Round Brackets


You need to make sure that you use the right brackets when citing law reports

Barret v Enfield LBC [2001] 2 AC 550

 Here the year is in square brackets, this means that the year is the primary method of finding the book on the shelf.    Within in the law report series(AC) you would have to look for the year and then look for volume 2 within that year.  Use  square brackets for any series that uses the year as a volume number.

DPP v Ottewell (1968) 52 Cr.App.R. 679 

 With this example the year is in round brackets.  This means that the year is not neccessary to find the correct volume and that you use the volume number to find the book within the series (there is only one volume 52 in the law report series).   Use round brackets for series that use consecutive volume numbers for the whole series


Which Law report should you cite?

For a lot of cases you come across there will be a number of different law reports of that case.  It is important to try and cite the most authorative law report.  For many countries there is an official series but in the UK there are a large number of different report series.  To find the most authorative series for the UK you can use an online case citator tool such as Westlaw Case Analysis or Lexis Library's Case Search which will have the list of law reports in order of authority.  The Law Reports series (published by ICLR) is seen as the most authorative series and following a Practice Direction by Lord Woolf in 2001 ([2001] 1 WLR 194) it is the report to cite.  More information can be found in the UK Libguide on this series.