12 Citing a Case

Case citations

Case citations abbreviate the key information relating to a case and its publication details. Understanding the parts of a case citation will help to find the case online or in a printed library collection.

Reported citations

Below are the parts of a citation for the reported judgment, Jaensch v Coffey (1984) 155 CLR 549. See rule 2.2 in the Australian Guide to Legal Citation for a detailed explanation of reported case citations.

Table 7: Reported citations
Party names Year published Volume number Law report series Starting page number
Jaensch v Coffey (1984) 155 CLR 549

Unreported citations

Unreported judgments use a medium neutral citation style. Below is the same judgment cited in an unreported format. See rule 2.3 in the Australian Guide to Legal Citation for a detailed explanation of unreported case citations.

Table 8: Unreported citations
Party names Year heard Court Abbreviation Judgment number
Jaensch v Coffey [1984] HCA 52

Both citation styles abbreviate either the law report series or the court title. Abbreviations are used extensively in law and used for law reports, law courts, law journals and commonly used legal terms. There are specialist resources for looking up abbreviations:

How to talk about a case

When citing cases verbally, some elements of a case citation need to be pronounced differently than they would appear in written form. For instance, in Australia the V between the party names is not pronounced; use ‘Against’ for criminal matters or ‘And’ for civil cases. For example:

  • The Queen ‘Against’ Stubbs
  • Haug ‘And’ Jupiters
Instead of pronouncing the R in criminal matters, use ‘The King’  or ‘The Crown’
Use ‘In the matter of’ instead of Re

Make sure to provide the full citation

In advocacy or moot situations, use the full citation the first time the authority is referred to. With subsequent citations, simply indicate the party names and pinpoint reference as needed.

For example, when verbally citing R v Stubbs (2009) 228 FLR 221:

  • First instance: “The Queen against Stubbs, reported in 2009 at volume two hundred and twenty-eight of the Federal Law Reports at page 221.”
  • Second instance: “The Queen against Stubbs…”


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Legal Research Skills: An Australian Law Guide: 2024 JCU Edition Copyright © 2024 by James Cook University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.