Guide to International Legal Citation

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I. Supreme Court Edition

1. Municipal law sources


As a publication specializing in international and comparative law, it is conceivable that the CJICL will cite municipal law sources from all over the world. In the Supreme Court Edition of the Journal, however, it is likely that only UK sources will be cited with any regularity.

Where dealing with a non-UK source, however, it is preferable to utilize the form of referencing most used in the home jurisdiction (i.e. Australia, Canada, US, India, etc.). Where this occurs, however, the citation should conform to the general style rules of the GILC, especially in terms of minimizing the use of commas and full stops. These are notably endemic in US citations (e.g. Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain, 542 U.S. 692 (2004), which ought properly be rendered as Sosa v Alvarez-Machain, 542 US 692 (2004)).

The exception to the above rule comes in the case of those decisions reported in the US Federal Reporter (and similar systems, such as the Atlantic Reporter), where a full stop may be placed between the ‘F’ of the series and the number of the report series (thus, Al-Bihani v Obama, 619 F.3d 107, 109 (DC Cir, 2010)).

Authorized reports series are always to be preferred – I am aware this is a pain, but this is how we were taught. That said, if you were to cite a single decision from another jurisdiction, I am sure that a well-regarded unauthorized report series would be fine.

Neutral citations (e.g. Plaintiff S157 v Commonwealth [2003] HCA 2) are only to be used for unreported decisions. Once the decision is in a reporter, it is to be preferred, especially if the report series may be found in the Squire (e.g. well-known common law jurisdictions).

With respect to certain civil law jurisdictions, the citation style of the jurisdiction is again to be preferred, but certain French, German, Italian, Dutch, Swedish and Russian decisions may be found in Brownlie’s Principles of Public International Law (8th edn, 2012) ch 3. With respect to civil law decisions especially, if a decision is included in the International Law Reports or International Law in Domestic Courts, then that citation is to be preferred.


Australia: Nationwide News Pty Ltd v Wills (1992) 177 CLR 1.

Canada: Re Canada Trust Co & OHRC (1990) 69 DLR (4th) 321 (Ont CA); R v Oakes [1986] 1 SCR 295.

United States: Sosa v Alvarez-Machain, 542 US 692 (2004); Al-Bihani v Obama, 619 F.3d 107 (DC Cir, 2010).

New Zealand: Taylor v New Zealand Poultry Board [1984] 1 NZLR 394.

India: Sebastian Hongray v India [1984] AIR 571 (SC).

International Law Reports: Reel v Holder (1981) 74 ILR 105.

International Law in Domestic Courts: Hague City Party v Netherlands, ILDC 849 (NL 2005).

2. UK unreported decisions


The majority of the decisions in the Supreme Court edition of the Journal will be unreported, requiring the use of neutral citation.8 The basic form is as follows:

Party v Party [year of decision] UKSC case n, para pin cite (judge’s name).

Where the judge in question is concurring, their name may simply be included after the relevant statement. Where the judge is dissenting, then the name should be rendered as ‘(judge’s name, diss)’.

In the Supreme Court edition, you may also be required to cite the unreported decisions of lower UK courts, notably the High Court and the Court of Appeal. In the citation, these are abbreviated to EWHC (England and Wales High Court) and EWCA (England and Wales Court of Appeal). The cite appears as follows:

Party v Party [year of decision] EWHC/EWCA div case n, para pin cite (judge’s name).

A quick note on ex parte judgments (i.e. where only one party is represented before the court). Whereas prior to the Wolff Reforms, the ex parte element would be reflected in the name of the case as follows: R v Bow Street Magistrate; ex parte Pinochet, the more recent style post-2000 is to cite the case like so: R (European Roma Rights Centre) v Immigration Officer at Prague Airport.


NML Capital Ltd v Argentina [2011] UKSC 31, paras 19–42 (Lord Phillips); cf ibid, para 98 (Lord Mance).

NML Capital Ltd v Argentina [2010] EWCA Civ 41.

3. UK reported decisions


All UK Supreme Court (and latterly, the House of Lords) and most Court of Appeal decisions will eventually be reported in one of the authorized reports, which are to be preferred source of citations. Other English courts have specialized approved report series as well, and the Wikipedia article on their history is surprisingly complete.9

These are as follows:

  • Supreme Court/House of Lords: Appeal Cases (AC);

  • Court of Appeal: Queen’s Bench (QB);10

  • Equity cases: Chancery (Ch);

  • Family cases: Family (Fam);

  • Probate cases: Probate (P).

There are also certain other unauthorized series which may be used if the case in question cannot be found in an authorized series. These are innumerable, but some of the more common are:

  • The All England Law Reports (All ER);

  • The Weekly Law Reports (WLR);

  • The Times Law Reports (TLR);

  • Lloyd’s Law Reports (Lloyd’s LR);11

  • The Criminal Appeal Reports (C App R);

  • The Construction Law Reports (Con LR).

The majority of the series are published year to year, and not on a volume basis (unlike decisions from Australia or Canada for example). Thus, the general form for their citation is as follows:

Party v Party [year of decision] vol n Law Report start page, pin cite (Judge’s name).

Again: remember the rule for the citation of ex parte cases (compare n 4 below with n 6).


1 Anisminic v Foreign Compensation Commission [1969] 2 AC 147 (Anisminic).

2 AM Luthor v Sagor [1921] 3 KB 532, 548 (Warrington LJ); ibid, 934 (Lord Wilberforce).

3 Kuwait Airways Corporation v Iraqi Airways Co (No 4 & 5) [2002] 2 AC 883, 922 (Lord Hope); Jones v Saudi Arabia [2004] EWCA Civ 1394, para 10 (Lord Mance).

4 R v Bow Street Magistrate; ex parte Pinochet [2000] 1 AC 61, 106 (Lord Nicholls).

5 Anisminic, above n 1, 167ff (Lord Reid).

6 R (European Roma Rights Centre) v Immigration Officer at Prague Airport [2005] 1 All ER 527.

4. Municipal statutes


It may also be necessary for UK and other common law statutes to be cited. This is relatively simple, as follows:

Name of Statute Year (Jurisdiction) pin cite.

UK statutes (as with most of the common law world) are arranged according to ‘sections’. Where referring to a specific section, abbreviate as ‘s n’. Other sub-divisions within the statute may include Parts (‘Part’), Articles (‘Art’), Chapters (‘Ch’) and so forth.


1 Bluetongue (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2012 (UK) s 1.12

2 State Immunity Act 1978 (UK) Part I.

3 International Organisations (Privileges and Immunities) Act 1963 (Cth) Schedule 1.


A. Books

1. The basic rule


The basic form of citations for books is as follows:

Author’s initial Author’s surname, Title (nth edn, year of publication) pin cite.

The name of the publisher is not included. Nor is the city of publication. In the modern era, a simple Google search should be enough for any researcher to determine the publisher.

In addition, do not include titles when dealing with an author – this includes ‘Sir’, ‘Dame’, ‘Justice’, ‘QC’, ‘FBA’ et al. Thus, Sir Elihu Lauterpacht QC becomes simply ‘E Lauterpacht’.

When dealing with multiple authors, simply list the names separated by an ampersand (&). When there are more than two authors, separate all but the final name with commas, and the final name with an ampersand.

When indicating a part or a chapter as a pin cite, use the abbreviations ‘part n’ or ‘ch n’. Use whatever numerical system the book itself uses (i.e. ch 3, ch III, ch iii).

When indicating multiple page spans, separate each with a comma.

When the volume is an edited collection of essays, place ‘(ed)’ or ‘(eds)’ after the author’s/authors’ names. Where a specific chapter is being cited, see section III.A.2 below on book chapters.

When considering a revised edition, then the revision should be indicated via the terms ‘rev edn’ in the edition field.


1 R Churchill & V Lowe, The Law of the Sea (3rd edn, 1999) 22.

2 P Birnie, A Boyle & C Redgwell, International Law and the Environment (3rd edn, 2009) ch 7.

3 Churchill & Lowe, above n 1, 22–4, 26–8.

4 D Guilfoyle, Shipping Interdiction and the Law of the Sea (2009) part II.

5 D Freestone, R Barnes & D M Ong (eds), The Law of the Sea: Progress and Prospects (2006).

6 H Lauterpacht, The Function of Law in the International Community (rev edn, 2011) 33.

2. Book chapters


The basic form of citation for book chapters is as follows:

Author’s name, ‘Title of chapter’, in Editor’s name (ed), Title of book (nth edn, year of publication) start page, pin cite.

Although not indicated above, author and editor initials should be included in the cite. The style is basically a variation on the above rule on books in general.

The chapter title should be indicated in single inverted commas. As in all aspects of the GILC, double inverted commas are not to be used unless absolutely necessary.

Where multiple chapters from the same work are indicated in the same or different footnotes, the rules on subsequent citations (section I.C) apply.


1 H Thirlway, ‘The Sources of International Law’, in M D Evans (ed), International Law (3rd edn, 2010) 95, 101.

2 J Crawford, ‘Sovereignty as a legal value’, in J Crawford & M Koskenniemi (eds), The Cambridge Companion to International Law (2012) 117, 122; cf M Koskenniemi, ‘International law in the world of ideas’, ibid, 47, 49–53.

3 M Fitzmaurice, ‘The Practical Working of the Law of Treaties’, in Evans, above n 1, 172, 175.

3. Translated and ‘classic’ texts


The basic form of citation for a translated work is as follows:

Author’s name, Translated title (nth edn, year of publication: tr translator’s name, year of translation) pin cite.

The basic form of citation for an older translated work is as follows:

Author’s name, Original title (year of publication: tr translator’s name, year of publication) original pin cite (translated pin cite).

The difference between an old and merely translated text is usually a question of basal or ‘classic’ status in the field. If you know the work by its original title predominantly, it has probably attained classic status, i.e. Grotius’ De iure belli ac pacis, or Vattel’s (never ‘de Vattel’) Le Droit des gens versus Kelsen’s Pure Theory of Law.

When citing a classic text, retain the original pin cite (i.e. volume, chapter, or paragraph number) and then follow it in parentheses with the pin cite of the translated edition as a page reference.


H Kelsen, Pure Theory of Law (2nd edn, 1960: tr M Knight, 1970) 33.

H Grotius, De iure belli ac pacis (1625: tr J Barbeyrac, 2005) III.ii.§1 (33).

4. Multi-volume works


When dealing with multi volume works, the rule for ordinary citations follows, but indicating the volume number after the title like so:

Author’s name, Title, vol n (nth edn, publication year) pin cite.

When dealing with a cross-reference or immediately subsequent cite, the volume number (again cited as ‘vol n’) should come after the linking reference (i.e. ‘ibid’ or ‘above n x’) but before the pin cite. Use whichever numbering system the original work utilizes (i.e. ‘vol 3’, ‘vol III’).

Where referring to the work in general (highly unlikely) then replace the reference to ‘vol n’ with ‘n vols’.


1 S Rosenne, The Law and Practice of the International Court, 1920–2005, vol 3 (4th edn, 2006) 33.

2 Ibid, vol 1, 66.

3 Generally: J Crawford (ed), Brownlie’s Principles of Public International Law (8th edn, 2012) ch 32.

4 Rosenne, above n 1, vol 2, 345.

5 Generally: Simma (ed), The Charter of the United Nations: A Commentary, 2 vols (2nd edn, 2002).

B. Journals

1. The basic rule


The basic citation style for journal articles is as follows:

Author’s name, ‘Article Title’ (year of publication) vol n Journal Title start page, pin cite.

Note that the issue number of the journal (e.g. ‘45(2)’) does not need to be displayed.

On occasion, a journal will have no actual volume number, but instead categorize itself according to year. The European Human Rights Law Review is a good example of this. In such a case, the citation style is:

Author’s name, ‘Article Title’ [year of publication] issue n Journal Title start page, pin cite.

Note the use of square brackets to distinguish the cite from a journal that categorizes according to volume, which uses parentheses.

On occasion, journal articles may be unsigned – this is particularly common with respect to the US law reviews, for reasons which are beyond the understanding of most academics. Where this occurs, the type of unsigned article (i.e. ‘Comment’ or ‘Note’) serves as the author’s name.


D Freestone, ‘Case Note: Activities in the Area’ (2011) 105 AJIL 755.

D French, ‘From the depths: rich picking of principles of sustainable development and general international law on the ocean floor – the Seabed Disputes Chamber’s 2011 advisory opinion’ (2011) 26 Int J of Maritime & Coastal L 525

Note, ‘Unfixing Lawrence’ (2005) 118 Harv LR 2858.

J Kleinig, ‘Paternalism and Personal Integrity’ [1983] 3 Bull Aust Soc Leg Phil 27.

2. A word on journal title abbreviations


The difficulty with journal titles in many cases is that they are long, and will need to be abbreviated. The difficulty is in making the abbreviation sensible to the average reader.

Where the journal in question is well known to the average reader of the journal, then simply converting the title to an acronym will suffice: e.g. ICLQ (International and Comparative Law Quarterly), AJIL (the American Journal of International Law) or BYIL (the British Yearbook of International Law).

Where the journal in question is insufficiently well known, then it should be abbreviated to the extent that it is possible for the reader to ascertain the full name of the journal, by abbreviating ‘common’ expressions, such as ‘international’ (‘Int’), ‘journal’ (‘J’), ‘review’ (‘R’), ‘law’ (‘L’), ‘yearbook of international law’ (‘YIL’). The balance of the title should be abbreviated to a sensible extent.

The determination of whether an article is common or otherwise is up to the individual editor. At the end of the day, the most important thing is to make sure that the referencing internal to the article is consistent. The official abbreviation of the journal may help in this, though US law journals are often unnecessarily verbose in this respect.

When abbreviating the names of US states, use the standard abbreviations internal to the US itself, as used when denoting congressional districts (see Thus, the Maryland Law Review becomes the Md LR.


British Yearbook of International Law BYIL

American Journal of International Law AJIL

International and Comparative Law Quarterly ICLQ

Law Quarterly Review LQR

Cambridge Journal of International and Comparative Law CJICL

Journal of International Dispute Settlement JIDS

German Yearbook of International Law Ger YIL

South African Yearbook of International Law S Af YIL

Monash University Law Review Mon LR

Arizona Law Review Az LR

International Journal of Maritime and Coastal Law Int J of Maritime & Coastal L (or conceivably, Int J Mar & Coast L).

Not, e.g. Columbia Journal of Transnational Law The Colum J Transnat’l L.

C. Other Materials

1. Internet sources


In the digital age, it is increasingly necessary to cite Internet sources, and appropriate to do so. Where a source is cited, the URL must be provided. That said, one should be judicious in the use of such sources.

Given the length of many URLs, it may not be practical for the full URL to be given. If that is the case, then a shorter cite may be given to a related URL from which the reader can easily find the source cited. The URL must be complete (i.e. ‘’, not ‘’).

The URL should be identified by being placed in chevrons (‘<>’) at the end of the reference. The date on which the URL was accessed should be placed after the URL in square brackets.

Further information – particularly where the source is a blog post or similar – should also be provided where possible in the usual style.


C A Miles, ‘Assange v Swedish Prosecution Authority: the (mis)application of European and international law by the UK Supreme Court – Part II’, CJICL Blog, 21 June 2012, [accessed 16 October 2012].

S Coll, ‘Veep States’, The New Yorker, 22 October 2012, [accessed 16 October 2012].

1 Available at [accessed 15 October 2012].

2 Further: ICJ Statute, Art 38(1)(c).

3 Yes, this may appear mildly contradictory, but if it helps, think of it as a kind of Buddhist riddle – only the enlightened can understand.

4 They are not, however, used within the GILC.

5 In the context of ICSID annulment proceedings.

6 Collected in WTO, The Legal Tests: The Results of the Uruguay Rounds of Multilateral Trade Negotiations (1994). Most of the covered agreements are contained within Annex 1A to the Marrakesh Agreement, although there are four annexes in total.

7 [accessed 12 October 2013].

8 Note that – contrary to the usual rule – all decisions considered in the UK Supreme Court edition which have been handed down in the most recent judicial year should be cited using neutral citation, even if they have been reported.

9 See [accessed 16 October 2012].

10 Or alternatively ‘King’s Bench’ depending on the gender of the reigning monarch.

11 Primarily concerned with insurance and contract claims, and very useful for picking up obscure High Court judgments.

12 Yes, they exist.

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