Legal Editing – rules for the citation of court judgments

The following rules for the citation of court judgments are adopted by Murrays Legal Commentary.

The need to publicise them in this article, and invite their adoption, arises from some frustration at the way court judgments are cited in judgments themselves, and in legal text books and articles

The Rules

The rules are:

  1. The relevant court’s medium neutral citation is always to be used – eg, [2017] NSWSC 37
  2. If there is an ‘official’ court citation as well, that should follow – eg (2016) 89 FCR 22; (1990) 55 SASR 103
  3. Then:

3.1. for books and articles, use the case report citation of the private publisher, if any:

CCH/Wolters Kluwer                       (2014) 32 ACLC 14-001

LexisNexis                                           (2014) 99 ACSR 214

Thomson Reuters                             (2002) 170 FLR 86

3.2. for court judgments, use whatever is available or convenient.


The benefits of using proper citations are:

  • Ready access to the law – many lawyers and most lay people don’t have access to the law reports of the private publishers;
  • Accuracy – a private publisher citation makes it difficult to identify the court, whether is a trial or appeal judgment, and sometimes the year of publication;
  • Speed – medium neutral citations of the courts are published within hours of the judgment being delivered; private publishers can take weeks or months.

Other rules soon

Rules on the use of judicial honorifics, gender neutrality, the plural pronoun, id ibid, (“the Act”), Latin, the subjunctive, citing textbooks, and more, will follow in a later guide.

Comments welcome.

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