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.
Below are the parts of a citation for the reported judgment, Jaensch v Coffey (1984) 155 CLR 549.
|Party names||Year published||Volume number||Law report series||Starting page number|
|Jaensch v Coffey||(1984)||155||CLR||549|
Unreported judgments use a medium neutral citation style. Below is the same judgment cited in an unreported format.
|Party names||Year heard||Court Abbreviation||Judgment number|
|Jaensch v Coffey||||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:
- Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations (UK and Intl)
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
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…”