Acronyms and initialisms in legal writing

An acronym is a word or name composed of the first letters of each word of a title or description. For example, NATO is an acronym for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

An initialism is an abbreviated name or description composed of the first letters of the full name or description, pronounced as a set of initials rather than a word. For example, BBC is an initialism for British Broadcasting Corporation.

Both initialisms and (to a lesser extent) acronyms used to be punctuated with full stops, as would other abbreviations (eg Mr used to appear as Mr.) and this may be how they appear in older law reports and commentary.

This entry lists some common and less common legal acronyms, initialisms and other abbreviations used in England and Wales.

Note that it does NOT include the abbreviations commonly used in legal citations, which we have listed elsewhere.


Admin Ct – Administrative Court (part of the Queen’s Bench Division)

AG – Advocate General (in European Court of Justice)

AG or A-G – Attorney General

C – Chancellor (after the surname of the Chancellor of the High Court, Chancery Division)

CA – Court of Appeal

CACD – Court of Appeal, Criminal Division

Ch – Chancellor (as a judge of an ecclesiastical court)

Ch D – Chancery Division (of the High Court)

CJ – Chief Justice

CJEC – Court of Justice of the European Communities (in Luxembourg)

CJEU – Court of Justice of the European Union (in Luxembourg)

Const Ct – Consistory Court

CoP or COP – Court of Protection

COP – Code of Practice

CPR – Civil Procedure Rules

CPS – Crown Prosecution Service

Crim PR – Criminal Procedure Rules

Ct of Sess – Court of Session (in Scotland)

DC – Divisional Court (usually, but not exclusively, of the Queen’s Bench Division)

DFJ – Designated Family Judge

DoLS – Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards

DPP – Director of Public Prosecutions

EAT – Employment Appeal Tribunal

EC – European Commission

ECJ – European Court of Justice (in Luxembourg; aka Court of Justice of the European Communities / Union)

ECHR – European Convention on Human Rights

ECtHR – European Court of Human Rights (in Strasbourg)

EEC – European Economic Community

ET – Employment Tribunal

EU – European Union

EW or E&W – England and Wales

Fam D – Family Division (of the High Court)

FPR – Family Procedure Rules

HC – High Court (of England and Wales)

HC – House of Commons (sometimes HoC)

HL – House of Lords

ICTA – Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1988

IT – Industrial Tribunal (former name of Employment Tribunal)

IT – Information Technology

J – Justice (after a High Court judge’s name, as an abbreviation for Mr / Mrs Justice)

JC – Judicial Committee (of the Privy Council)

JJ – Justices (plural, after listing their surnames)

JSC – Justice of the Supreme Court (after his or her title)

JJSC – Justices of the Supreme Court (plural, after listing their titles)

LASPO – Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (sometimes LASPOA)

LCJ – Lord Chief Justice

LJ – Lord Justice, Lady Justice (appearing after the surname)

LJJ – Lords and/or Ladies Justices (plural, after listing their surnames)

MLA – Member of the Legislative Assembly (of Northern Ireland)

MP – Member of Parliament

MSP – Member of the Scottish Parliament

MWA – Member of the Welsh Assembly

NIRC – National Industrial Relations Court

P – President (after a the surname of the President of a High Court division)

PACE – Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984

PC – Privy Council

PDA – Probate, Divorce and Admiralty (former division of the High Court)

PM – Prime Minister

QBD – Queen’s Bench Division (of the High Court)

SC(E) – Supreme Court, when hearing appeals from the courts of England and Wales

SC(NI) – Supreme Court, when hearing appeals from Northern Ireland

SC(Sc) – Supreme Court, when hearing appeals from Scotland

Sen Cts – Senior Courts (ie High Court and Court of Appeal, replacing the former term Supreme Court)

Sup Ct – Supreme Court (either as former title of Senior Courts, or since 2009 for the highest appellate court in the UK)

UK – United Kingdom

UKPC – United Kingdom Privy Council

UKSC – United Kingdom Supreme Court

V-C – Vice-Chancellor (after the surname of the Vice-Chancellor of the Chancery Division, the title formerly given to the most senior judge in that Division of the High Court.)