Table of most commonly encountered abbreviations for law reports in the UK
The Law Report Series
AC Appeal Cases
Ch Law Reports, Chancery Division
QB Law Reports, Queen's Bench Division
KB Law Reports, King's Bench Division
Fam Law Reports, Family Division
P Law Reports, Probate Division
Other commercial series
All ER All England Reports
BCLC Butterworths Company Law Cases
Cr App R Criminal Appeal Reports
Cr App R (S) Criminal Appeal Reports Sentencing
FSR Fleet Street Reports
ICR Industrial Cases Reports
IRLR Industrial Relations Law Reports
LLoyd's LR Lloyd's Law Reports
P & CR Property, Planning and Compensation reports
SC Session Cases (Scottish)
WLR Weekly Law Reports
If you are looking for a reported case you will usually have a full case citation. Below is a breakdown of a citation. To find what legal abbreviations stand for see the box on the left.
Since the growth of electronic sources there have been unreported transcripts also available on all the major legal databases. Following on from this (from 2002) came the use of neutral citations where by each case was given a neutral citation to identify it. Confusingly these look like law report citations but consist of the year, the court abbreviation (for example EWCA Civ) and then the case number. If this is the only citation you have then you will not find it in any of the law reports series. You will need to look at one of the electronic sources to find the case these include Westlaw (subscription), Lexis Library (subscription) or bailli (free resource).
Below is the usual format of these types of citations along with some examples. EW stands for England and Wales, UK for United Kingdom.
This focuses on using correct citations for cases in the UK. There are many standards used for citing Oxford uses OSCOLA (Oxford Standard for Citation of Legal Authorities).
When citing cases there is a difference between cases before 2001/02 and after.
|Cases before 2001||Cases after 2001/02|
|Reported||Party names / law report citation||Party names/ neutral citation/ law report citation|
|Unreported||Party names / (unreported, date)||Party names/ Neutral citation|
Barrett v Enfield LBC  2 AC 550
|Dingmar v Dingmar  EWCA Civ 942; Ch.109|
|Richards v Westgate Ltd (unreported, 20th July 1995)||Brampton v Rust  EWHC 216 (QB)|
Using Square and Round Brackets
You need to make sure that you use the right brackets when citing law reports
Barret v Enfield LBC  2 AC 550
Here the year is in square brackets, this means that the year is the primary method of finding the book on the shelf. Within in the law report series(AC) you would have to look for the year and then look for volume 2 within that year. Use square brackets for any series that uses the year as a volume number.
DPP v Ottewell (1968) 52 Cr.App.R. 679
With this example the year is in round brackets. This means that the year is not neccessary to find the correct volume and that you use the volume number to find the book within the series (there is only one volume 52 in the law report series). Use round brackets for series that use consecutive volume numbers for the whole series
Which Law report should you cite?
For a lot of cases you come across there will be a number of different law reports of that case. It is important to try and cite the most authorative law report. For many countries there is an official series but in the UK there are a large number of different report series. To find the most authorative series for the UK you can use an online case citator tool such as Westlaw Case Analysis, JustCite or Lexis Library's Case Search which will have the list of law reports in order of authority. The Law Reports series (published by ICLR) is seen as the most authorative series and following a Practice Direction by Lord Woolf in 2001 ( 1 WLR 194) it is the report to cite. More information can be found in the UK Libguide on this series.