English Case Law Reports - Modern Citations Last updated 01-Oct-2014

English Case Law Reports - Modern Citations.

current series *


The electronic citations will now adopt a specific method of citation, using EWCA for the Court of Appeal and EWHC for the High Court (followed by the abbreviation for the Division of the High Court). Each case will now be given a unique number by the court administrators. For example, the citation for the judgment in the Court of Appeal (Civil Division) case of Smith v Jones (which we will say is the tenth case of the year decided by that court) would appear as: Smith v Jones [2001] EWCA Civ 10. The official number (here, 10) will now always have to be cited on at least one occasion whenever a reference is made to Smith v Jones in later cases. Similarly, in the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) case of R v Brown the citation would be: R v Brown [2001] EWCA Crim 20 - the '20' again referring to the sequential numbering. If reference is to be made to, say, paragraph 59, the citation becomes: R v Brown [2001] EWCA Crim 20 at [59]. Multiple paragraph references will take the form of: Smith v Jones [2001] EWCA Civ 10 at [1], [7], and [30]-[42].

Once the judgment has been reported in the printed reports the neutral citation will appear in front of the familiar citation from the law reports described earlier In this chapter: thus Smith v Jones [2001] EWCA Civ 10 at [42]; [2001] QB 113 at [42]; [2001] 1 All ER 88 at [42]. The neutral citation must always be used on at least one occasion when the authority is cited in a later judgment.

Headnote to the law report will also frequently give some indication of the effect of this decision on existing case law. This is indicated by the use of the following terms in conjunction with the citation of the relevant case.

  • Affirmed: this indicates that the court has agreed with the decision of a lower court in respect of the same case.
  • Applied: this means that a court has regarded itself as bound by an earlier decision, and has therefore employed the same reasoning in the instant case. The alternative would have been to distinguish the earlier case (below).
  • Approved: this is used where a higher court states that another case before a lower court was correctly decided.
  • Considered: this seems to be something of a residual category. If the court has discussed a reported case (particularly one decided by a court of equal status) but not reached any dramatic conclusion about its application, then it will probably appear as 'considered'.
  • Distinguished: an earlier case will be distinguished where a court has no power (or no wish) to overrule it, but does not want to apply it either. The court will therefore find some ground for saying it is different, and should not followed in this particular case.
  • Overruled: this is used to show where a court has rejected and invalidated an earlier decision of a court of lower (or sometimes equal) status to itself.
  • Reversed: this is the opposite of affirmed. It means that the higher court has decided that the lower court in the same case came to the wrong decision.

Learning Legal Rules. James A Holland & Julian S Webb, Blackstone Press, 2002

A.C.Appeal Cases 1891- (current series)*
App.Cas.Appeal Cases 1875-90
Ch. Chancery Division 1891-(current series) *
Ch.D. Chancery Division 1875-90
Ch.App.Chancery Appeal 1865-74
C.P.D. Common Pleas 1875-80
Ex.D. Exchequer  1875-80
Fam. Family Division 1972-(current series) *
I.R.Ireland (4th series)1978-93
K.B. King’s Bench 1891
L.R. A.& E.Admiralty & Ecclesiastical Cases 1865-75
L.R. C.C.R.Crown Cases Reserved1865-75
L.R. C.P. Common Pleas 1865-75
L.R. Eq.Equity Cases 1865-75
L.R. Exch.Exchequer 1865-75
L.R. H.L.English & Irish Appeals1865-75
L.R.IrIreland  (3rd series)1978-1893
L.R. P.C. Privy Council 1865-75
L.R. P.& D. Probate & Divorce Cases 1865-75
L.R. Q.B.Queen’s Bench 1865-75
L.R. H.L.Sc. House of Lords, Scotch & Divorce Appeals 1866-75
P.D.Probate, Divorce & Admiralty Division  1875-90
P. Probate, Divorce & Admiralty Division 1891-1970
Q.B. Queen’s Bench Division 1891-(current series) *
Q.B.D.Queen’s Bench Division 1875-90

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