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Legal Citation

Page history last edited by Cecilia Tellis 11 years, 11 months ago

8.1 Introduction

This section concerns legal citation and the citation style manual generally used in common law jurisdictions in Canada, namely the Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation (McGill Law Journal). In Quebec, the Guide des références pour la rédaction juridique (Montréal: Éditions Thémis, 2000) is also consulted [FTX Reserve KE 265 .L54 2000]. The similar guide for the United States is the Bluebook: a Uniform System of Citation, published by the Harvard Law Review Association (FTX Reserve KF 245 .B58).

The need for accuracy in every legal document cannot be overemphasized. Correct citation style is an integral part of effective written communication.  Legal citation shows how to locate, read or check a particular bill, statute, regulations, case and law review article. 

Before turning to the Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation [hereinafter the "Cite Guide"] when citing a case or citing an article, you must ensure that:

·         the authority cited in what you write stands for the proposition of law for which it is cited;

·         the parties’ names or author’s name are or is spelled correctly;

·         every document must be proofread both for substantive correctness and to eliminate typographical and grammatical errors.


Then, after having gathered the elements of the citation (year, page numbers, volume, court, etc.) you must follow the style of citation prescribed in the Cite Guide.


Why use a guide?

Obviously, the citation system you use must be published and the rules must be uniform ones for people to be able to understand and follow to access the material cited. But in order to achieve this, the rules have to be both numerous and detailed (and at first confusing).  The Cite Guide is the official authority on citation in most Canadian law schools. You will not learn 400 pages of rules.  The Cite Guide is a text that should be consulted when needed, not memorized.


Understand the textual explanation of the pertinent rule; you are as capable of interpreting it as anyone. Use your common sense.  The Cite Guide's raison d'être is to help you point your readers to the legal materials you cited.

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Next to 8.2: Citation Standard for Case Law

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