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Legal Citation with the 10th edition of the McGill Guide

This guide provides an introduction to legal citation in Canada.

How to Cite a Case - Pattern #2 (With CanLII Citation)

The case has a CanLII citation (and no neutral citation): the citation pattern to use

CITATION ELEMENTS: style of cause, CanLII citation, pinpoint [if required], jurisdiction and court, short form [if required].

EXAMPLE: Dickson v Royal Bank of Canada, 1975 CanLII 148 (SCC).

Let's examine each part of the citation for a case with a CanLII citation to understand how it is constructed:

1. Style of Cause

The considerations are identical to a case with a neutral citation.

example:  Dickson v Royal Bank of Canada

2. CanLII Citation

Use the CanLII citation in cases where the issuing court has not assigned a neutral citation. If you do not know what a CanLII citation looks like, see the explanation given here.

example: Dickson v Royal Bank of Canada, 1975 CanLII 148

3. Pinpoint [if required]

Include a pinpoint if you are citing to a particular passage in the judgment. Use the page or paragraph numbers assigned by CanLII so long as they are displayed in HTML form on the web browser.

example:  Dickson v Royal Bank of Canada, 1975 CanLII 148 at 836.

Since the CanLII version of this case indicates page numbers, we use the page number (836) as the pinpoint citation.

Note: If the version displayed by CanLII on the web browser does not have paragraph or page numbers, then you should not use CanLII as your main citation. Instead, you should use an alternative source that contains page/paragraph numbers as your main citation, and you may use CanLII as your parallel citation (see Pattern #3). In these cases, the CanLII version often contains a link to a PDF version of a print reporter with page/paragraph numbers that may be used as your main citation.

4. Jurisdiction and Court

A case citation should always indicate both the jurisdiction and court level. Neutral citations take care of this requirement, but for cases without a neutral citation (such as CanLII citations), you need to add this information in parentheses at the end of the citation.

Use the abbreviations found in the McGill Guide at Appendix A-1 (for jurisdictions) and B (for courts). Do not include the jurisdiction if it is evident from the abbreviation for the court (e.g., SCC, FC).

example: Dickson v Royal Bank of Canada, 1975 CanLII 148 (SCC).

Since the CanLII citation does not indicate the jurisdiction or court, both should be added. According to the appendices, the Supreme Court of Canada is abbreviated to SCC.  As the jurisdiction is evident from the abbreviation for this court (the second ‘C’ in the abbreviation stands for ‘Canada’), it does not need to be added separately.

5. Short Form [if required]

A short form is required only when there are further references to the case in your work. If there are no further references to the case in your work, a short form should not be used. See Chapter 1.4 of the McGill Guide, 10th edition for the rules on establishing and using short forms.

example: Dickson v Royal Bank of Canada, 1975 CanLII 148 (SCC) [Dickson].