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Legal Citations

General Rules to Case Citations

A legal citation should include: 

  • The style of cause (name of the decision)
  • The year
  • The court
  • Jurisdiction
  • Page/paragraph 

A legal citation should not contain more information than necessary. 

You should try to include two citations for every case. 

Case Citation

In 2000, the Supreme Court of Canada along with many other provincial courts and tribunals adopted neutral citation standard for their judgments. This citation method allows for the immediate identification of any judicial decision regardless of the format. Neutral citation has three parts:

  1. The year of the decision
  2. The court identifier (ie. SCC for Supreme Court of Canada; ONCA for Ontario Court of Appeal)
  3. The ordinal number of the decision

Always provide the neutral citation if it is available.

Example of Neutral Citation:

R v Cole, 2012 SCC 53 at 67
Atec Marketing Limited v Heart and Foundation of Canadian, 2007 ONCA 1

A parallel citation refers to the same case published in two or more sources. Citations to more than one source for a case are not always necessary; however, it is useful to provide a parallel citation when a neutral citation has been used and the case has been published in a reporter series. 

Examples of Parallel Citations: 

Saskatchewan Federation of Labour v. Saskatchewan 2015 SCC 4, [2015] 1 SCR 245
Brown v. Canada (Attorney General), 2013 ONCA 18, 114 O.R. (3d) 355

Some judgments may be too recent to be published in a print reporter, but court decisions after 2000 have a neutral citation. Make sure that if it has a neutral citation that you cite it. If the judgment is not available in a print reporter and there is no neutral citation, cite an electronic database.

Examples of Electronic Citations:

CanLII Citation - Bonaparte v. Canada (Attorney General)2003 CanLII 40016 (ON CA)
QuickLaw Citation - ​Shoppers Drug Mart Inc. v. 6470360 Canada Inc. (Energyshop Consulting Inc./Powerhouse Energy Management Inc.)[2014] OJ No 476 (C.A.)