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A guide to referencing styles at GSM London

Citation of Primary Sources

case law

Neutral citation

This system has been in use since 2001 by the High Court and the Court of Appeal, becoming a standard for all UK courts. This system does not distinguish between print and online media.

It follows the convention below:

Year | Court Name | Division (optional) | Case Number   


United Kingdom England and Wales
Supreme Court (UKSC) Court of Appeal Civil Div. (EWCA Civ)
House of Lords (UKHL) Court of Appeal Crim Div. (EWCA Crim)
Privy Council (UKPC) High Court Chancery Div. (EWHC Ch)
  High Court Queen's Bench Div. (EWHC QB)
  High Court Family Div. (EWHC Fam)


[2012] EWCA Civ 1288



Hierarchy of Law Reports

A Practice Direction on the citation of authorities, issued in 2012, sets out the hierarchy for the majority of authoritative law reports that could be referenced.

  1. Official Law Reports (A.C., Q.B., Ch., Fam.) published by the Incorporated Council of Law Reporting for England and Wales (ICLR) are accessible via both Westlaw UK and LexisLibrary (accessible via your Plymouth account)
  2. Weekly Law Reports (WLR) which appear both on Westlaw UK and LexisLibrary and the All England Law Reports (ALL ER)  which are available only on LexisLibrary. If a case is reported in both series, either may be cited.
  3. In the absence of relevant material appearing in any of the above sources, the specialist series  are the next ones in the hierarchical line to refer to.

If a case is not cited in any of the previous series, all other reports may be considered.

The law reports cover image          


Example citation of UK Case Law:

uk case law example one with instructions

UK statute example one


Referring to a specific part of a statute

When referring to a specific part, section, subsection, paragraph, subparagraph or schedule you will need to add the relevant specific details to your citation. See below table:

part/parts pt/pts
section/sections s/ss
subsection/subsections sub-s/sub-ss
paragraph/paragraphs para/paras
subparagraph/subparagraphs subpara/subpara
schedule/schedules sch/schs


Data Protection Act 1998, s 47(2)(a)

For statutory instruments add:

Name | Year, | SI Number   


SI example


The Ionising Radiation (Medical Exposure) Regulations 2017, SI 2017/1322

atomium brussels image

EU legislation will be either a primary or a secondary/subsidiary source.

Primary sources, such as EU treaties and protocols, use the following convention:

Legislation title | [Year] | OJ series | issue/first page


Consolidated Version of the Treaty on European Union [2012] OJ C326/13

EU treaty example

Secondary/subsidiary sources, such as regulations, directives, recommendations and opinions use the following convention:

Legislation title | number title | [year] | OJ L | issue/first page


Regulation (EU) No 952/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 9 October 2013 laying down the Union Customs Code [2013] OJ L 269/1

EU regulation example


For both Judgments of the European Court of Justice and the General Court, the following convention should be used. 

case number | case name | [year] | report abbreviation | first page



  • The case name should be in italics
  • Official reports should be used where possible (cited ECR)
  • Cases before the European Court of Justice are given the prefix C- in the case number
  • Cases ruled by the General Court are given the prefix T- in the case number
  • For unreported cases, cite the relevant notice in the Official Journal (OJ)



Case T-239/00 SCI UK Ltd v Commission of the European Communities [2002] ECR II-2960

ECJ judgment example


HUDOC image

For judgments of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), the following convention should be used:

case name | (year) | vol | report abbreviation | first page

You may cite from any of the below:

  • Official reports available on the HUDOC database
  • Reports of Judgments and Decisions available on LexisLibrary (ECHR)
  • European Human Rights Reports in Westlaw (EHRR)


Piermont v France (1995) 20 EHRR 301

ECtHR judgement example





legal systems globally


Cases from foreign jurisdictions

Always cite cases from other jurisdictions as they are cited in their own jurisdiction but with minimal punctuation.


Legislation from foreign jurisdictions

Always cite foreign legislation as cited in its own jurisdiction but without any full stops in the abbreviations. Appendix 4.3 in the official OSCOLA guide contains details on how to cite sources.



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