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Legal Citation

This guide provides an introduction to the citation of cases, statutes and regulations, books and journal articles, and electronic sources.

Citing Cases from Online Databases

  • You can cite a case to a CanLII, Lexis Advance Quicklaw, or WestlawNext Canada citation (also called a case identifier) in certain circumstances, such as if the case was not reported in print and has no neutral citation (see section 3.8 of the McGill Guide).
  • More often, a citation to a database will be a second (parallel) citation (see section 3.1 of the McGill Guide).
  • A case's neutral citation (if there is one) is always the preference for the first citation.
  • See sections 3.1 and 3.8 of the McGill Guide for more guidance.

Example #1: neutral citation available

Brown v Douglas, 2010 BCSC 1059, 2010 CarswellBC 1999 (WL Can).

This case was not reported in any print reporters. Its neutral citation always goes first, followed by its WestlawNext Canada citation. The date, jurisdiction and court (British Columbia Supreme Court) are apparent from the neutral citation, so those elements do not need to be added to the citation. The "WL Can" indicates that the case was retrieved from WestlawNext Canada because that is not clear from the citation ("CarswellBC").

Example #2: unpublished judgment with no neutral citation available

Bank of Nova Scotia v Visentin, [1996] OJ No 4563 (QL) (Ct J (Gen Div)).

This case was not reported in any print reporters, and it has no neutral citation. Therefore, it is simply cited to the case identifier assigned by Lexis Advance Quicklaw, followed by "QL" to indicate where it can be found. The "OJ" indicates that it is a case from Ontario but does not indicate the court level, so the "Ct J (Gen Div)" is needed at the end.