OSCOLA Referencing System

The OSCOLA system (The Oxford Standard for Citation of Legal Authorities) should be used to reference (cite) Law Reports (Cases), Legislation (Acts of Parliament) Legal Journals / Law Reviews and books which you have used in your research. For further details please consult the full documentation at: http://denning.law.ox.ac.uk/published/oscola.shtml The OSCOLA style is quite unique and you must be aware that law materials will be referenced quite differently in other books and official sources, as these are based on the rules of another system, usually Harvard. You must be consistent and convert everything to OSCOLA.


OSCOLA uses very little punctuation, e.g. no full stops after abbreviations ( QB not Q.B. for Queen’s Bench ) nor after the “v ” between two parties in a case. A comma is used sparingly to separate distinct parts of a book reference, notably between the author and the title, and a colon separates a title from the subtitle e.g. Domestic Violence: Law and Practice

UK Cases (Law Reports)

For the “best” available source for your law report, provide a neutral citation (for cases after 2001) then cite the most authoritative source, i.e. the Official Law Reports (Appeal Cases, Queen’s Bench etc.). The Weekly Law Reports are the next best, then the All England Reports. If your case is ONLY reported in a specialist series such as the Family Law Reports, this is then the accepted best citation and you should use this.

Case names should be in Italics and in lower case ( including the “v “ ). The date should be in round or square brackets according to the style of the report series. (If a report has several volumes in one year with the same numbering sequence every year, the year is crucial, and the date must be in SQUARE brackets. Where reports use an ongoing numbering sequence year after year to indicate volumes, the date is less important and can be put into ROUND brackets.)

The volume number follows the date. The report series in which the case appears is abbreviated, e.g. AC for Appeal Cases, WLR for the Weekly Law Reports etc. For pre 2001 cases the final number is the first page of the report. The relevant court should then be specified, for example: Giles v Thompson [1994] 1 AC 142 (HL)

Neutral citations for cases were introduced from 2001 to recognise the extensive use of electronic law reports, and cite only the parties, year of the judgment, the court and the case number. This is given in the first part of the citation, followed by details of the citation from the best available published report ( if there is one ), with a comma to separate e.g. Arkin v Borchard [2005] EWCA Civ 655, [2005] 1 WLR 3055

European Cases 1)

European Court of Justice (ECJ) and the Court of First Instance (CFI). The preferred source is the European Court Reports ( ECR ). Series ECR 1 reports the ECJ cases and ECR 11 those of the CFI. If there is no ECR citation use the Common Market Law Reports, or if the case is in any UK law reports series cite these, using the same order of preference as for UK cases ( see above ).

Cases since 1989 have been numbered according to whether they have come from the European Court of Justice ( prefix C) or the Court of First Instance ( prefix T). Cases before 1989 have no prefix at all. Your citation must start with the case number, then the party names in italics, the law report series, and finally the page number. Example: Case C 212 / 03 Commission of the European Communities v France [2005] ECR 14213 Case T 180 / 98 Cotrim v CEDEFOP [1999] ECR 111077

European Court of Human Rights

You can use either the official reports ( originally known as Series A and since 1998 as Reports of Judgments and Decisions but cited as ECHR ), or the European Human Rights Reports ( EHRR ). Since 2001 EHRR has used case numbers instead of page numbers. Give the party names, the application number, then the law reports series. Example: Whitfield v United Kingdom ( App no 46387 / 99 ) (2005) 41 EHRR 44

EC Commission Decisions

The source for these will vary – some will only have a reference from the Official Journal of the European Communities ( OJ ) ( usually the best ). If not, use the Common Market Law Reports. Example : Interbrew / AlkenMaes [2003] OJ L200 / 1 Please refer to the full Oscola documentation for further examples ( see page 1 of help sheet )

UK Legislation

Acts of Parliament Most acts can be cited using the short title and date, but to identify a particular section and/or subsection, add “s” plus the section number and subsection in brackets, for example: Constitutional Reform Act 2005 s 45(4) House of Commons Bills have a running number in square brackets at the end, after the dates of the relevant Parliamentary session. Those from the House of Lords (HL) do not, e.g. Identity Cards HC Bill (200506) [49] Identity Cards HL Bill (200506) 28

EC Legislation

It is important to specify the different types of legislative documents, which include Regulations, Directives, and Decisions, in your citation. Please note that some Decisions are treated as cases. Details are normally taken from the Official Journal of the European Communities ( OJ ) “L” ( Legislation ) series. You must give the number, its full title, plus the date and reference from the OJ. Example :

Council Directive (EC) 2000 / 43 of 29 June 2000 implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin [2000] OJ L 180 / 22 In subsequent references or footnotes you could summarise the full title, e.g. Equal Treatment Directive 2000 / 43. You must indicate the type of legislation and the number, to distinguish it from other possible similar documents. Please refer to the detailed Oscola documentation for a fuller explanation.

Books (and chapters within books)

A book by a single author will be cited like this: MT Molan, Criminal Law:Cases and Materials (3 rd edn Cavendish, London 2005) 29 The author’s initials or first name ( if known ) come before the surname and the title is in italics. The edition, publisher, place of publication, and date, follow in brackets. If the edition of the book you used is later than the first, which is quite likely, you MUST specify this. If you need to give the page numbers for the specific section you consulted, add them last. If the book is a collection of chapters edited by one or more people, use (ed) or (eds) after their name(s). For example: M Elliott (ed), Beatson, Matthews and Elliott’s Administrative Law :Text and Materials (OUP, Oxford 2005).

The above example also shows that well established books continue to be known by their original titles long after their original authors have died and each new editor must be identified.

For multiple authors, insert ‘and’ between each name for up to three authors. For more than three authors, give the details of the first author, and add ‘and others’, e.g. Damien Chalmers and others, European Union law : text and materials (CUP, Cambridge 2006 )

Chapters within Books

To identify any particular chapter in a book of edited readings, you must use the word in and put the title of the chapter in single inverted commas. For example: MA Jones, ‘Breach of Duty’ in A Grubb (ed), Principles of Medical Law (2 nd edn OUP, Oxford 2004)

Secondary Referencing

Always try and read the original source of information rather than someone else’s interpretation and never cite a footnote to it from another work. Oscola has no written guidance on this but their help desk suggests linking the journal article, book or case which you HAVE actually read to that which your source cites, and which you HAVE NOT read, by using the word “citing”. The example below indicates that you have only seen Deakin’s report of this case. S Deakin and GS Morris, Labour Law ( Hart Oxford 2005 ) citing Hall v Lorimer [1994] IRLR 171

Journal Articles

The author of the article is followed by the title of the article in single inverted commas but unlike books, it is NOT in italics. The main title words need to start with a capital letter even if the original does not. For example: J Rowbottom, ‘ Media Freedom and Political Debate in the Digital Era’ ( 2006 ) 69 MLR 489

The titles of Law Journals are normally abbreviated. Use the Cardiff Index of Legal Abbreviations for the correct form of each title, or the guidance given in some of the printed journals. Dates are in square or round brackets according to the same rules which apply to Law Reports. The volume number or month is next, then the issue number in brackets ( if the pages are renumbered from 1 in every issue), and finally the first page of the article.

For a journal article which is ONLY available electronically : G Watt, ‘ The Soul of Legal Education’ [2006] 3 Web JCLI <http://webjcli.ncl.ac.uk/2006/issue3/watt3.html> accessed 17 October 2006 Treat Case Notes in the same way. If there is no article title, put the party names in quotes e.g. ‘DPP and Smith’ and add ( case note ) or ( case comment ) followed by the journal citation.

Newspaper Articles

Quite often there is no obvious author, or the article is actually an editorial comment. Indicate the lack of an author using () or use the word Editorial if that applies. Cite as for a journal article, but put the newspaper name in italics. You also need the city and date (day) of publication in brackets, and lastly the page number. Example : J Rozenberg, ‘Falconer Launches Human Rights Drive Defence’ Daily Telegraph (London September 29 2006) 2

If you use an electronic version with no page number, give the web address as for an electronic journal article, and indicate the date on which you accessed the article. Websites

If you access any electronic information via a database such as Westlaw you do not need to mention this. However, to cite free websites such as a government department, a charity or a professional organisation, you will need the author ( or corporate author ), the title, in single inverted commas, the document type, the full web address and the date you accessed the site, e.g.: Campaign for Freedom of Information, ‘Whistleblowing’ <http://www.cfoi.org.uk/whistle.html> accessed 23 October 2006 Official (Government) Publications

Reports by parliamentary committees are cited using the name of the committee as the author, and details of the report (annual or special etc.) as the title. Give the years of the parliamentary session, indicate HL or HC for the House of Lords or Commons, then the serial number. Use inverted commas around the title, if this is specific. Example: Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Deregulation, 3 rd Report [Session 199899] HL Paper (199899) no 12.

Publications by individual government departments or named individuals within, e.g. Secretaries of State, or organisations, also use their name as the author. Give the Command Paper number ( in the correct abbreviated format for the relevant year ) where appropriate, e.g.: Home Office, ‘A pointsbased system: making migration work for Britain’ (Cm 6741, 2006) Law Commission ‘Trustee Exemption Clauses’ (Law Com No 301 2006)


You must use the exact words of the original. If there are any errors, make these clear by using the word [sic], and do not attempt to correct anything. Restrict any comments you wish to make to the footnotes . If the quote is in midsentence in your text it must be in single quotation marks and be less than three lines long. If you are quoting from an existing quote make this clear by using double quotation marks around the original quote. If the extract starts midsentence use three dots thus … `and a spokesman from The Law Society clarified this by saying that “ court rules must strike a balance between the right to privacy and the public interest ”, which closed the debate` .

For a longer quote space down a line, indent from both sides of the margin and introduce by using a colon, but do not use quotation marks. Example : In discussing liberal feminism one view is : Liberalism has often been associated with the birth of feminism, but although it is indeed a strong association, this is historically inaccurate : some early feminists , like Mary Astell, were conservative in their general political views, and took a much more distinctly feminist or womanoriented stance than is implied in the idea of liberal feminism. ( insert your footnote )

If there is a further quotation within a long passage as above you would use single quotation marks, as there are none there already.


The OSCOLA system uses footnotes for referencing at the bottom of each page. Use a running number (1) ( expressed this way ) after every reference in your text, as your footnote indicator. This is easily done in word processing systems such as Microsoft Word, but will vary according to what version you have. For example, if you make a short quote in your text, such as ‘lawyers and the public at large have an inbuilt resistance to the notion that economics can have any relevance to law’ (2) you would provide a citation as in footnote 2 at the bottom of this page. If you made a subsequent reference to this book, you would need a new footnote, but need only to repeat the author’s name, the original footnote number ( in brackets ) and the new page reference ( footnote 3 )

Keep the notes brief or they distract your reader too much and try to restrict their use to help identify sources used in your text, not leading to other sources for your arguments etc. Each footnote should start with a capital letter unless using an abbreviation such as ‘eg’ which is always lower case. Always use a full stop at the end of each footnote.

When citing a case within your text you would give the party names only e.g. Anns v Merton but give the usual full citation in your footnote. For more than one case per footnote, list them by date, separated by a semicolon.

As full details are given in the main footnote for each reference, there is no need to provide a list of references or bibliography as well.

1 This is an example of where a footnote would be placed using OSCOLA.
2 B Pettet, Company Law ( 2 nd edn Pearson London 2005) 66.
3 Pettet ( n 2 ) 387. Produced by CLSD 1206
| Doc: Oscola.doc


"Looking for a Similar Assignment? Get Expert Help at an Amazing Discount!"

WhatsApp Chat with us on WhatsApp