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:
For example, Lovelace v Ontario has the neutral citation 2000 SCC 37:
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. The two patterns are explained in detail in the next two sections of this guide.
The easiest way to determine if a case has a neutral citation is to follow these steps:
For example, let's say you're looking at a Supreme Court of Canada decision from 2019. The citation options in your database include the following:
If we look at Appendix B-3, we can see that the neutral citation for the Supreme Court of Canada is SCC. Therefore, we pick out the citation from this list that has that abbreviation: 2019 SCC 65. This is our neutral citation, and we can now proceed with citing this case according to Pattern #1.