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Legal Citation with the 9th edition of the McGill Guide

This guide provides an introduction to legal citation in Canada.

How to Cite a Case - Pattern #1 (With Neutral Citation)

The case has a neutral citation: the citation pattern to use

PATTERN: style of cause, neutral citation, pinpoint [if needed], judge [if needed].

EXAMPLE: Radonna Investments Ltd v Rubin, 2012 ONCA 321.

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

1. Style of Cause

  • a case is identified by the names of those who were parties to the litigation
  • in general, one uses only the last name of the first mentioned party on each side. For example, Andrus Wilson v Ramzi Alharayeri becomes Wilson v Alharayeri
  • "v" is an abbreviation for versus and is pronounced "and" in civil cases and "against" in criminal cases
  • the names of the parties and the "v" are italicized
  • for more information, consult section 3.3 of the McGill Guide

Example: Radonna Investments Ltd v Rubin

Note:

"Indexed as": for recent cases, an "indexed as" title will appear at the beginning of a case. If you are ever in doubt as to what the style of cause for a case should be, this is a useful bit of information. Check the first page of the judgment and if the case has an "indexed as" reference, use it for citation purposes.

Reference to the Crown: As an element of constitutional monarchy, Canadian executive government authority is formally vested in the Queen, hence the use of R for the Latin word for queen, regina, in legal citations. This is used mainly for criminal cases prosecuted by the state, although you may also see R as part of a citation for a civil case, in place of such terms as "The Queen", "The Queen in right of," etc.

Examples:

  • R v Desautel (criminal case brought by the Crown)
  • Laforet v R (a private case brought against the State)

2. Neutral Citation

Use the neutral citation as given by the court.

Example: Radonna Investments Ltd v Rubin, 2012 ONCA 321

3. Pinpoint [if needed]

Include a pinpoint if you are citing to a particular passage in the judgment. Since your case has a neutral citation, make sure you cite to the paragraph number.

Example: Radonna Investments Ltd v Rubin, 2012 ONCA 321 at para 2

4. Judge [if needed]

If relevant, the judge's name may be included, followed by "J" for Justice, "JA" for Justice of Appeal, etc. (consult 3.10 of the McGill Guide).

Example: Radonna Investments Ltd v Rubin, 2012 ONCA 321 at para 2, LaForme JA.