Answered By: Lisa Hawksworth Last Updated: Sep 05, 2017 Views: 5141
Whether a case citation has square or round brackets depends on the law report series in which the case report is published. Some law report series have more than one volume per year, usually numbered 1,2 3 etc. In order to find the correct volume of the law report series, you will need the year – otherwise, how will you know which volume 1 you need? In these circumstances, the year will appear in square brackets, to indicate that it is vital in locating the report. For example:
Corr v IBC Vehicles Ltd  1 AC 884.
Other law report series publish just one volume per year and they are numbered sequentially. In these circumstances, you don’t need the year to locate the correct volume, as the volume numbers are unique, so the year will be in round brackets. FOr example:
Barrett v Enfield LBC (1999) 49 BMLR 1 (HL).
If you are unsure which style of brackets to use, ask yourself – can I locate the correct report without the year?
See the OSCOLA referencing page for more guidance.
Please note you should always refer to any departmental/school guidelines you’ve been given.