Properly and uniformly citing cases allows readers to easily locate and retrieve documents. This guide introduces some basic principles for citing cases and points you to websites and tools for legal citation in general. This guide is not exhaustive. For detailed information about legal citation, always refer to the McGill Guide.
Citing Cases to the Alberta Courts
Court of the Queen’s Bench November 12, 2013 Notice to the Profession #2013-06 reflects that the Court officially adopts the Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation, 7th ed (Toronto: Carswell, 2010) [McGill Guide, 7th edition].
See also Alberta Rules of Court rule14.31 Format of Books of Authorities.
Note: McGill Guide, 7th edition was consulted in the making of this guide as it is the edition officially adopted by the Alberta Courts.
Parts of a Case Citation
When constructing a case citation, include at least two sources whenever possible and as many as might be useful for the reader to find the case. Navigate through the tabs below to see different parts of a legal reference and types of sources.
style of cause
The style of cause consists of the names of parties to an action. It is a short version of the title of the case.
When the reporter provides the style of cause, keep it as is.
A v or a c separates the names of the parties (the letter v means the decision is in English and the letter c means the decision is in French).
If the decision is bilingual and you are writing in English, use v.
Italicize the names of the parties and the v or c that separates their names.
If more than one person is on either side of an action, use the name of the first party listed.
Title of case: 689799 Alberta Ltd., The Daniel Klemke Foundation, Daniel Klemke and KMC Mining Corporation and The City of Edmonton
- Style of cause: 689799 Alberta Ltd v Edmonton (City)
Title of case: Her Majesty the Queen and Travis Edward Vader
- Style of cause: R v Vader
- The “R” refers to the Crown, or government, in criminal cases
Neutral citations are assigned by the courts and consist of the year, an abbreviation for the court and a sequential number.
style of cause, neutral citation: R v Sorge, 2018 ABPC 153
Always provide the neutral citation first if is available.
If the case was reported in an official reporter, place the official reporter citation directly after the neutral citation.
Official reporters are published by the Queen’s Printer. The McGill Guide lists three official reporters:
- SCR or RCS Canada Supreme Court Reports / Recueil des arrêts de la Cour suprême du Canada
- FCR or CF Federal Court Reports / Recueil des arrêts de la Cour fédérale du Canada
- Ex CR or RC de l’É Exchequer Court of Canada Reports / Receuil des arrêts de la Cour de l’Échiquier
The bolded SCR citation below consists of:
- [Year of reporter];
- Volume Number;
- Title of Reporter;
- and the first page of the decision printed in the reporter
Ernst v Alberta Energy Regulator, 2017 SCC 1,  1 SCR 3
If the neutral citation and/or official reporters are not available, provide a citation from a semi-official reporter
Find a complete listing of semi-official reporters in Appendix C-2 of the McGill guide, 7th edition
Schitthelm v. Kelemen, 2013 ABQB 42, 557 A.R. 151
Other sources include citations from electronic services and unofficial reports. Keep the following in mind when providing citations to other sources:
- If there is a neutral citation, provide it
- Provide sources in this order: neutral citation; official reporter; semi-official reporter; and lastly other sources
- Choose other sources carefully and consider their accessibility to readers (for electronic services, preference is given to databases that are widely accessible)
- Printed reporters that cover a large geographic area and are readily available are preferred
- Consult the McGill Guide to figure out which sources to cite based on what is available for a given case
A pinpoint reference refers a specific paragraph or page number in a case. Keep the following in mind when making pinpoint references:
- Place the pinpoint reference after the neutral citation (if there is a neutral citation, always refer to paragraph numbers)
- If there is no neutral citation, place the pinpoint reference after the first page of the printed reporter
- If there is no neutral citation, refer to paragraph numbers or page numbers
- Cite paragraphs using ¶, para or paras
- place the abbreviation for “and following” (ff) immediately after the page or paragraph number to indicate a general area
- Separate consecutive page or paragraph numbers with a hyphen (Example: 30-40)
- if referring to paragraphs or pages that are not in sequential order, separate the paragraph or page numbers with a comma (Example: 128, 190)
- Consult the McGill Guide for detailed information about pinpoint references
Websites: Writing & Citing
- UOttawa’s Principles of Legal Research has a learning module on Legal Citations
- University of Calgary Library’s LAW Legal Citation (McGill Guide) Quick Reference
- The Canadian Legal Research and Writing Guide Legal Citation page
- Queen’s University Library Legal Citation Guide
- Guide to Legal Citation – Douglas College This pdf provides examples of how to cite case law.
- Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations lets you search for the meaning of abbreviations for English language legal publications
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