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Understanding case citations

What is a case citation

A case citation refers to a specific case, the same way a title and author refers to a book. Understanding the meaning will help you to locate the case referred to.

Case citations are all structured similarly, but they vary depending on whether the case was unreported, or published in a report series.

Below are examples of common case citations with an explanation of what the citation means.

Reported cases citation format

These are cases that have been published in a law report, which have a report abbreviation:

Case Name Year Volume Report Abbreviation Starting Page
R v Par [2015] 1 Qd R 15
Comcare v PVYW (2013) 250 CLR 246

Round or square brackets?

As above, some reporters put the year in square, and some in round, brackets.

Square brackets mean you need the year to find the case. To find R v Par, you need to first find the section for 2015, then the first volume published that year.

Round brackets mean the year is not needed to find the case. To find Comcare v PVYW you just need to go to volume 250 - the year is only given for extra information about the case.

Unreported cases citation format

These are cases which have not been published in a law report.

Use the medium neutral citation to locate the unreported case:

Case Name [Year] Court Abbreviation Judgment Number
R v Par [2014] QCA 248
Comcare v PVYW [2013] HCA 41
Tags: case law, caselaw, law, law_school, legal research, legal_citation