Neutral Citation

A neutral citation is a unique court-assigned reference number for a judgment in a common law jurisdiction.

Sometimes described as “medium neutral” (meaning they can be published in print or online using the same reference) or “vendor neutral” / “publisher neutral” (meaning they are not dependent, like traditional law reports, on the selection and editing of the text by a particular reporter or publisher), these citations have now been introduced for the published judgments of senior courts in most common law jurisdictions.

A typical neutral citation is composed of the following three elements:

  • Year
  • Jurisdiction and Court
  • unique case number #

To which may sometimes be added a fourth element

  • Division or List (optional)

Neutral citations in England and Wales

With effect from 11 January 2001 neutral citation was introduced in both divisions of the Court of Appeal and in the Administrative Court. Each approved judgment issued out of these courts was assigned a unique number by the official shorthand writer: see Practice Direction (Judgments: Form and Citation) [2001] 1 WLR 194. At the same time the House of Lords and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council also introduced neutral citations for their decisions.

With effect from 14 January 2002 neutral citations were extended to all judgments given by judges in the High Court in London (neutral citations “may” be furnished to High Court judgments delivered by judges outside London): see Practice Direction (Judgments: Neutral Citations) [2002] 1 WLR 346.

Most neutral citations are assigned by the court, but in some cases they have been supplied unofficially by BAILII (the British and Irish Legal Information Institute), either in order to apply a publisher-neutral reference to a judgment (whether or not reported elsewhere) that predates the implementation of neutral citations, or because the court cannot or has not done so (in which case the letter B appears before the case number).

The following is a list of the main neutral citations used in the courts in England and Wales:

Court N Cit
Supreme Court [2017] UKSC #
House of Lords [2008] UKHL #
Privy Council [2017] UKPC #
Privy Council (devolution cases) [2008] UKPC D#
Court of Appeal (Civil Division) [2017] EWCA Civ #
Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) [2017] EWCA Crim #
Chancery Division [2017] EWHC # (Ch)
Patents Court [2017] EWHC # (Pat)
Queen’s Bench Division [2017] EWHC # (QB)
Administrative Court [2017] EWHC # (Admin)
Admiralty Court [2017] EWHC # (Admlty)
Commercial Court [2017] EWHC # (Comm)
Technology and Construction Court [2017] EWHC # (TCC)
Family Division [2017] EWHC # (Fam)
Court of Protection [2017] EWCOP #
Family Court [2017] EWFC #
Upper Tribunal (Administrative Appeals Chamber) [2017] UKUT # (AAC)
Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) [2017] UKUT # (IAC)
Upper Tribunal (Tax and Chancery Chamber) [2017] UKUT # (TCC)
Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) [2017] UKUT # (LC)

 

Ecclesiastical courts

With effect from 1 January 2016 neutral citations were introduced for judgments and decisions given by the ecclesiastical courts (ie consistory courts, the Arches Court of Canterbury and the Chancery Court of York): see Practice Direction (Faculty Jurisdiction) (Judgments: Neutral Citations) [2016] PTSR 99.

Court N Cit
Arches Court of Canterbury [2016] EACC #
Chancery Court of York [2016] ECCY #
consistory court for diocese of Southwark [2016] ECC Swk #

See Practice Direction (Faculty Jurisdiction) (Judgments: Revised Neutral Citations) [2016] PTSR 578 for the complete and up to date list of diocesan abbreviations for use in neutral citations for the consistory courts.

 

Neutral citations in other jurisdictions

Most other common law jurisdictions have adopted neutral citations in their senior courts. The following list, compiled for reference by ICLR law reporters, is not intended to be comprehensive, but deals with the main jurisdictions that tend to be cited in our law reports.

Scotland N Cit
Court of Session, Outer House [2015] CSOH #
Court of Session, Inner House [2015] CSIH #
High Court of Justiciary (as appeal court) [2015] HCJAC #
High Court of Justiciary (as trial court) [2015] HCJT #
Northern Ireland N Cit
Court of Appeal [2015] NICA #
Queen’s Bench Division [2015] NIQB #
Chancery Division [2015] NICh #
Family Division [2015] NIFam #
Ireland N Cit
Supreme Court of Ireland Decisions [2015] IESC #
Irish Court of Criminal Appeal [2015] IECCA #
Irish Court of Appeal [2015] IECA #
High Court of Ireland Decisions [2015] IEHC #
Jersey N Cit
Royal Court [2015] JRC #
Court of Appeal [2015] JCA #
Canada N Cit
Supreme Court 2015 SCC #
Federal Court of Appeal 2015 FCA #
Alberta Court of Appeal 2015 ABCA #
British Columbia Court of Appeal 2015 BCCA #
British Columbia Supreme Court 2015 BCSC #
Manitoba Court of Appeal 2015 MBCA #
New Brunswick Court of Appeal 2015 NBCA #
Nova Scotia Court of Appeal 2015 NSCA #
Nova Scotia Supreme Court 2015 NSSC #
Quebec Court of Appeal 2015 QCCA #
Saskatchewan Court of Appeal 2015 SKCA #
Australia N Cit
High Court [2015] HCA #
Family Court [2015] FamCA #
Federal Court [2015] FCA #
New South Wales Supreme Court [2015] NSWSC #
New South Wales Court of Appeal [2015] NSWCA #
Queensland Supreme Court [2015] QSC #
Queensland Court of Appeal [2015] QCA #
South Australia Supreme Court [2015] SASC #
Victoria Supreme Court [2015] VSC #
Victoria Court of Appeal [2015] VSCA #
Western Australia Supreme Court [2015] WASC #

 

New Zealand N Cit
Supreme Court [2015] NZSC #
Court of Appeal [2015] NZCA #
High Court [2015] NZHC #

 

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