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Legal Citation with the 9th edition of the McGill Guide

This guide provides an introduction to legal citation in Canada.

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?

There are 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.