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LSBU Harvard Referencing: Legal cases

Legal cases are reported in law reports.

The titles of law report series and law journals are often represented as abbreviations in references for legal materials (e.g. WLR for Weekly Law Reports).

If the case was heard before 2001 it will not have a neutral citation, so use Option 1.

If a case was heard after 2001 it will have a neutral citation, so use Option 2.

Best Practice tips


Legal abbreviations

Use the free online resource, Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations to find the preferred abbreviation, or to interpret an abbreviation. 

Format of the reference - Option 1 (before 2001, no neutral citation)

You will need:

  • Party names
  • Year of publication
  • Volume number of law report
  • Title of law report (as an abbreviation)
  • First page number of report

 

Format:

Party names (year) volume number abbreviation for name of report and first page of report

 

Example:

R v Edward (John) (1991) 1 WLR 2017

In-text citation: The case of R v Edward (John) (1991) ….

Format of the reference - Option 2 after 2001, include neutral citation)

Neutral citations

Neutral citations were introduced in the UK in 2001 for judgments from all divisions of the High Court. This is so the judgment of the case can be written up quickly for online resources.

If the case is important, the details and commentary will be published months later in a law report. You must include both the neutral citation and the law report details in your reference.

You will need:

  • Party names
  • Year the case was heard
  • Abbreviation of court and case number
  • Year the law report was published
  • Volume number of law report
  • Title of law report (as an abbreviation)
  • First page number of report

 

Format:

Party names [year] abbreviation of court and case number, (year) volume number abbreviation for name of report and first page of report

 

Example:

Joseph v Spiller [2010] UKSC 53, (2011) 1 AC 852

In-text citation: The case of Joseph v Spiller [2010] …

Option 1 (before 2001, no neutral citation)

Option 2 (after 2001, include neutral citation)

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LSBU Harvard Referencing Quick Guide