Legal Referencing

As GDL students will be working on PfPII, just a reminder that it is important for you to reference your work and to reference it properly, using the correct citations (quotations) and conventions. This post will focus on the four types of primary source.

  • Statutes (Acts of Parliament)
  • Statutory Instruments (SI’s)
  • Case Law

Failure to reference your work properly will mean that your work lacks credibility and this may result in a lower mark and possibly even a fail grade.  The is quick is based on Oxford Referencing, full details available from:

If you don’t know an abbreviation the following site will help:  

Statutes (Acts of Parliament)

A statute is cited by its short title (found in a section near the end of the statute) followed by its date, with no punctuation before the date and omitting ‘The’ at the start.


Children Act 2004 c. 31

The following example is a citation of section 10, sub-section 1, paragraph a of the Children Act 2004:

Children Act 2004 s.10 (1)(a)

Statutory Instruments (SI)

A statutory instrument is cited by its short title and the year and serial number (where available). Do not use ‘The’ at the start or use any punctuation between the title and the date in the citation.


Child Maintenance and Other Payments SI 2009/3072

Case Law

You will need to refer to cases and cite them correctly as follows:

  • The names of the parties in italics (not the ‘v’ for versus).
  • Date of the case in brackets normally in [square brackets]
  • Volume/part number of the Law Report if applicable.
  • Name or abbreviation of Law Report.
  • Page number of the case.
  • Abbreviation of the court where the case was decided.
  • The page/paragraph number(s) of the passage you are referring to (sometimes called the ‘pinpoint’) if applicable. Cite the first page of the article, comma, then the page where information is to be found.


R v Twomey [2009] EWCA Crim 1035; [2009] 3 All ER 2002

The example above gives two references, the first, EWCA Crim, is the court of appeal criminal,  

Criminal cases page 1035; the second relates to the 3rd volume of the 2009 all English Reports and page 2002.

 Year (round brackets rule)

It is important to note the distinction between square and round brackets. Where square brackets are used the year of the case is essential to locate the case in the relevant law report.  However, some law reports use round brackets. In this case the year is not relevant because the law reports are numbered in consecutive volumes and, therefore, the year in which the case was heard is not necessary to find the report. You need only to look for the relevant volume.

Author: manchesterlawlibrary

One of seven centre libraries serving The University of Law

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