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Legal Citation

Neutral Citations

Neutral Citations

In 1999, Canadian courts began assigning neutral citations to their judgments (the start date varies depending on the court). The neutral citation is only a case identifier and does not indicate where a case can be found. It consists of three parts:

  • year of decision
  • abbreviation of the court
  • an ordinal number

For example, Lovelace v Ontario has the neutral citation 2000 SCC 37:

  • 2000 = year of the decision
  • SCC = court (Supreme Court of Canada)
  • 37 = ordinal number (37th case decided in 2000)

Key Question: Does the case have a neutral citation?

The McGill Guide describes two possible patterns to follow when citing a case. The answer to the question, "Does the case have a neutral citation?," will determine which of the two case citation patterns to follow.  These two patterns are explained in detail in the next two sections of this guide.