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9.28 Legal references

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Legal documents require note and bibliography formats that differ from those of general works and government publications. Lawyers and legal scholars adopt many abbreviations in their references. Use these abbreviations if the intended reader has specialized knowledge of law, but use only familiar abbreviations when writing for a general audience.

Monographs. Books on legal topics may be presented in the same format as works in the humanities. However, because of the many footnotes in legal writing, specialists tend to omit the author’s initial, place of publication and publisher’s name in order to save space:

  • 1. Linden, Canadian Negligence Law (1972), at 259.

Note the use of "at" in legal references. The abbreviation p. or pp. may be dropped in the interest of brevity.

Articles. Provide information in the following order: surname of author, title of article in quotation marks, year of publication in parentheses, periodical volume number, abbreviated periodical title, the number of the first page of the article, and the actual reference page number:

2. Castel, "Some Legal Aspects of Human Organ Transplantation in Canada," (1968) 46 Can. Bar Rev. 345, at 361.

Court decisions. For volumes of the Supreme Court Reports from 1923 on, give the case name in italics, followed by a comma, the year of publication in square brackets, the issue number (if desired), the abbreviation for the Reports, the number of the first page of the judgment, and the reference page number:

  • 3. Higgins v. Comox Logging and Ry. Co., [1927] 1 S.C.R. 359, at 360.

For volumes prior to 1923, cite the case name in italics and the year the judgment was rendered in parentheses, followed by a comma, the volume number, the abbreviation for the Reports, and the number of the first page of the citation:

  • 4. Burland v. Moffat (1885), 11 S.C.R. 76.

For the Federal Court Reports use the same format as for post-1922 S.C.R. volumes:

  • 5. Canadian Pacific Air Lines, Limited v. The Queen, [1979] 1 F.C. 39, at 40.

For the Dominion Law Reports give the case name in italics and, if desired, the date of judgment in parentheses before the comma, the volume number, the abbreviation for the Reports, the series number in parentheses, the number of the first page of the judgment, the reference page number and, if desired, the abbreviation for the court in parentheses:

  • 6. Beim v. Goyer (1966), 57 D.L.R. (2d) 253, at 256 (S.C.C.).

The reference is complete without the date; the reader could find Volume 57 of the second series without knowing the date of judgment, which is therefore an optional addition for information purposes alone. However, there is an alternative D.L.R. format which incorporates a date as part of the reference:

  • 7. Nova Mink v. TCA, [1951] 2 D.L.R. 241, at 254 (N.S.C.A.).

Here the date, which is the date of publication and therefore not necessarily the date of judgment, is in effect part of the volume number, while the number following is that of the issue.

Note that the v. in such references need not be italicized.

Statutes. When citing acts of Parliament, give the short version of the title of the act, the abbreviation for the Statutes and the year, the chapter number (each statute is a separate chapter of the Statutes of Canada), and the section referred to:

  • 8. National Sports of Canada Act, 1994, c. 16, s. 5.

For further information on legal references, consult The Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation.