Answered By: Lisa Hawksworth
Last Updated: Aug 01, 2016     Views: 15501

Neutral citations were introduced in the UK in 2001 for judgments from all divisions of the High Court and are independent of any printed series of law reports. Instead, the abbreviation indicates the court in which the case was heard and the number indicates the case number.

For example:

Brown v Davies [2006] EWCA Civ 166 [9].

  • Brown and Davies are the parties involved
  • [2006] is the date of the judgment
  • EWCA Civ is the court in which the case was heard; in this case, the Court of Appeal England and Wales, Civil Division
  • 166 is the case number
  • [9] refers to paragraph number 9.

Neutral citations make it easier to find a judgment online from sources such as the British and Irish Legal Information Institute website (BAILII).

Cases may subsequently be reported in a printed series of law reports. If so, the OSCOLA referencing style used by the Law School dictates that the neutral citation comes before any citation for a printed law report series. Separate the citations with a comma.

For example:

Imerman v Tchenguiz [2009] EWHC 2024 (QB), [2010] 2 FLR 735, [2010] FCR 14, [2009] Fam Law 1135 QBD.

Some lower courts and tribunals have since adopted a neutral citation system.

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