OSCOLA is the Oxford University Standard for Citation of Authorities. This is the accepted referencing system used by university law schools in the UK. 

Click on the Quick Reference Guide link below for examples of the main types of citations or click on the link for the full guide which gives you a more detailed explanation of how to reference your academic material.

The FAQ section provided by University of Oxford provides information on sources not included in the main guides, such as ebooks and videos.

The online resources from produced by Cardiff University provide a comprehensive guide, includeing a tutorial, activities and examples from a wide range of primary and secondary sources.

The tutorial. Citing the Law: Referencing Using OSCOLA: 

A-Z of referencing examples:

Resource bank, including activities:

The Oxford Law webpage provides additional support.


General Principles


When you refer to cases, legislation, quote or paraphrase someone else’s work in your assignment, you must cite (i.e. acknowledge) the source by including a numbered footnote marker in the text that corresponds with the citation (i.e. full details of the source) in the footnotes at the bottom of the page. The citations must be provided in the OSCOLA style.

Put the superscript number at the end of the relevant sentence, unless it makes more sense to place it directly after the word that it specifically relates to. The following passage illustrates this point.

Courts are reminded of their power to make sexual offences protection orders or disqualification orders, preventing the offender from working with children.18 They give guidance on other ancillary orders, such as deprivation orders,19 empowering the court to deprive the offender of property (such as a computer) used for the purposes of crime, making coherent links between the Sexual Offences Act 2003 and the Powers of the Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000,20 of powers which a sentencing tribunal, pre-guidelines, might not have been fully aware.

18Sexual Offences Act 2003. Definitive Guideline, para. 1.30.
19Sexual Offences Act 2003. Definitive Guideline, para. 1.32.2.
20Powers of the Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000 s.143.

Source: John Cooper, ‘The Sentencing Guidelines Council – A Practical Perspective’ [2008] Crim LR 277, 282

If you are referring to a point that is in brackets, place the superscript number before the close of the bracket, e.g. (most notably in Smith v Brown3)

If you are quoting, place the superscript after the quotation marks and comma or full stop.

In the text:
“A regulation is the nearest European law comes to an English Act of Parliament”.14

In the footnotes:
14Elliott and Frances Quinn, ‘English Legal System’ (11th edn, Pearson Education 2010) 103.

For quotations of over three lines, do not use quotation marks – put the entire quotation in an indented paragraph. Leave a line space above and below the quotation. 

How to create footnotes/superscript numbering in Word

Please refer to the following cribsheet:

  • MS Word Superscript and Subscript Numbering [PDF]


Pinpoints indicate the exact page where the material being referred to can be found. As soon as you refer to an element of content of a source, this needs to be pinpointed. You usually include the pinpoint at the end of a citation, further guidance is provided with the source types.

Definitions and notes

As well as citations of sources, footnotes can also contain notes or definitions of terms you have used in the text that you feel should be explained further. Using footnotes enables you to include further information without disrupting the flow of your argument, which might occur if you included the note or definition in the main text. Use a superscript number in the text against the term in question and place the definition or note in the footnotes.

Subsequent citations - ibid

If a source is cited and then cited again, a shorten version of the citation can be given, cross-referencing the original footnote. If the subsequent citation is immediately after the first, then ibid plus the pinpoint can be used. Note that you don’t have to do this, you can repeat the full citation if you prefer.

12Tom Hickman, ‘The Courts and Politics after the Human Rights Act: A Comment’ (2008) PL 84.


24Hickman (n 12).

25ibid 91.

In this example the journal article is first cited at footnote 12, then again at 24 with a cross-citation to number 12. It is cited immediately afterwards using ibid and a pinpoint to page 91.

Online resources

For sources that you find online, if that source is also published in print, then cite it as if you have read the print version. Note that this applies to ebooks and ejournal articles that you may access online – cite them as if they were print copies.


Short quotes - up to three lines

Insert the quote into your text with single quotation marks.

Place footnote marker after the closing quotation mark and punctuation mark.

Furthermore, Ellliott and Quinn have the positive view that the Law Commission has ‘managed to promote discussion of law reform'.1


The Law Commission has many detractors, but more positively it has ‘managed to promote discussion of law reform’.1

If the quote is a complete sentence lead in with a comma and capitalise the quote.

In some ways they can be considered to be a waste of expertise as, ‘Royal Commissions and temporary committees are disbanded after producing their report, and take no part in the rest of the law-making process’.1

Long quotes - longer than three lines

Long quotes are separated from your text by indenting and leaving a line space above and below.

Quotation marks are not necessary. Use a colon to introduce the quoted passage.

If you start a sentence with a quotation mark, the first letter should be enclosed in square brackets.

The issue of excessive compromise is thought to weaken the effectiveness of Royal Commissions and other committees:

Royal Commissions and temporary committees have the advantage of drawing members from wide backgrounds, with a good spread of experience and expertise. However, in some cases this can result in proposals that try too hard to represent a compromise. The result can be a lack of political support and little chance of implementation.1


[R]oyal Commissions and temporary committees have the advantage of drawing members from wide backgrounds, with a good spread of experience and expertise. However, in some cases this can result in proposals that try too hard to represent a compromise. The result can be a lack of political support and little chance of implementation.1

The issue of excessive compromise is thought to weaken the effectiveness of Royal Commissions and other committees.


1 Elliott and Frances Quinn, English Legal System (11th edn, Pearson Education Limited 2010) 146


Key Sources

The bars below contain information showing you how to cite various sources in the footnotes of your text. If you need to cite a source that isn’t listed below, consult the OSCOLA 4th edition, if it isn’t included in that, try a best fit with a similar resource below or consult your tutor for advice. 

Cite anything publication with an ISBN as a book.

Primary Sources


Cases with neutral citations

The neutral citation style has been in use since 2001 when transcripts of cases were made available online, independent of any law reports. A neutral citation places the emphasis on the court where the case was heard, although the report information is still included in the citation if the case has been reported and this is where you are accessing it.

Name of case [year] court* number, [year] OR (year) volume report abbreviation* first page

Barclay v British Airways plc [2008] EWCA Civ 1419, [2010] QBD 187.

The above citation shows that the case was heard in the Court of Appeal Civil in 2008 and was case number 1419. The case was reported in the 2010 volume of the Queen’s Bench Division of the law reports (note that the report did not have a volume number denoting the year so the brackets containing the date are square - see below).

*Do not use full stops in the abbreviations.

Case without neutral citiations

For older citations the neutral citation information may be missing, cite as shown below.

Name of case [year] OR (year) volume  report abbreviation  first page (court)

Adam v Ward [1917] AC 309 (HL).

The above citation tells you that the case was heard in 1917 in the House of Lords and reported in the Appeal Cases law reports. 

Square v round brackets

Square brackets are used when the year denotes the law report volume. If the volume number denotes the year published, use round brackets. Note that volume numbers may still be present, when using square brackets if the report has been issued in more than one volume for that year. If there isn’t a volume number use square brackets.

In the first example below, volume 88 of the Criminal Appeal Reports denotes the year, so round brackets are used. In the second example, the Appeal Cases series of reports are published by year, hence the square brackets. This particular year was published in more than one volume and the case mentioned was published in volume 2.

Reg v Barr (1989) 88 CrAppR 362 (CA).

Pattni v Ali [2006] UKPC 51, [2007] 2 AC 85.

Case names

1. If there are multiple parties use, only the first claimant and/or defendant.
2. Abbreviate common words and phrases, e.g. DPP - Director of Public Prosecutions. Appendix section 4.2.4 of the OSCOLA 4th edition has a list of acceptable abbreviations.
3. Give the full name of the case when it is first mentioned in the text or footnotes and then abbreviate in subsequent mentions.

R v Tompkins (1977) 67 CrAppR 181 could subsequently be referred to as Tomkins in the text and footnotes.

4. If the name of the case is stated in the text, there is no need to repeat it in the footnotes.

In the text:

In R v Boardman1 the judge…

In the footnote:

1(1977) 67 CrAppR 181.

Which reports to use

The Incorporated Council of Law Reporting Law Reports are considered to be the most authoritative, so use these reports if possible. This series of reports includes the House of Lords/Supreme Court, Privy Council (Appeal Cases), Chancery Division, Family Division and Queen’s Bench. If your case is not reported in the Law Reports, then cite the Weekly Law Reports or All England Law Reports. If you still cannot locate the case, then use specialist reports such The Criminal Law Reports or Criminal Appeal Reports.


Include the paragraph numbers at the end of the citation in square brackets. If you are pinpointing to more than one paragraph, put each number in square brackets and separate with a comma or dash if the paragraphs are in sequence.

Barclay v British Airways plc [2008] EWCA Civ 1419, [2010] QBD 187 [9], [13].

Barclay v British Airways plc [2008] EWCA Civ 1419, [2010] QBD 187 [24]-[33].

If the pinpoint follows a citation with the court in brackets at the end, do not include the square brackets.

Adam v Ward [1917] AC 309 (HL) 2, 8.

Adam v Ward [1917] AC 309 (HL) 9-13.

Judges’ names

If you wish to include reference to the judge at the end of the citation, include it in brackets at the end of the citation.

Furnell v Whangarei High Schools Board [1973] AC 660 [679] (Lord Morris).

How the name is cited depends on the judge’s status or rank, common examples include:

Justice – (Brown, J)

Lord Justice – (Brown, LJ)

Lord (Lord Brown)

Judges of the Supreme Court (Lord Brown SCJ)

Use the judge’s surname name – only use the first name if there are two judges with the same name; if this is case include the first name of the most junior judge.

See OSCOLA 4th edition section 2.1.7 for a full account of how to cite a judge’s name.

Law reports - see cases

The law reports are where the judgements of cases are reported, i.e. published. See the section on cases for details on how to cite the cases.


If you have mentioned the full details of legislation in the text, there is no need to include it in the footnotes. But if the name of the Act or relevant section is not named, the full details must be included in the footnotes. If you need to include references to an Act several times in quick succession, abbreviate to the initials of the main words and include the date:

Mental Health Act 1959.

9MHA 1959.

Parts of statutes

Statutes can be subdivided in the following ways:

Parts of Statutes
Section Abbreviation
 part/s pt/pts
 section/s s/ss
 subsection/s sub-s/sub-ss
 paragraph/s para/paras
 subparagraph/s subpara/subparas
 schedule/s sch/schs

In the text, use the full form at the beginning of a sentence or where the Act name is not repeated. In the footnotes use the abbreviated form.

Health Act 1999, s 2.

National Health Service (Consequential Provisions) Act 2006, s 8(2)(a).

National Health Service (Consequential Provisions) Act 2006, s 6, sch 4.

National Health Service (Consequential Provisions) Act 2006, sch 2, pt 1(3) and pt 2(13).

When referring to paragraphs within sections, put the paragraph number/letter in brackets after the section and don’t include ‘para’. So in the second example above we are referring to paragraph ‘a’ of subsection 2 of section 8 of the National Health Service Act.


Title HC Or HL Bill (session) [number] clauses/parts – see part of statutes

Taxation (Cross-border Trade) HC Bill (2017-19) [128].

Taxation (Cross-border Trade) HC Bill (2017-19) [128] s 24(2).

Statutory Instruments

Title year, SI number

Antarctic (Recognised Assistance Dog) Regulations 2016, SI 2016/697.

Note that the SI number is formed from the year and number.

SIs used to be called statutory rules and orders - cite in the same way, but use SR or O, followed by the number.

It is possible to abbreviate in the footnotes after the first full citation, so the above example could be
A(RAD)R 2016.

If you are referring to a part of an SI , add the part at the end in the following way

Parts of SI
Section Abbreviation
regulation/s reg/s
rule/s r/rr
article/s art/arts


Microchipping of Dogs (Wales) Regulations 2015, SI 2015/1990, reg 5(1).

The above citation would pinpoint to regulation 5, paragraph 1.

European Union sources

Since 1972 EU legislation, notices and information have been published in the The Official Journal of the European Communities. This is abbreviated to OJ. Series information is included in the citations: L for legislation, C for EU information and notices and S for invitations to tender.

EU Legislation

Title [year] OJ series issue/first page

Treaty of Lisbon amending the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty establishing the European Community [2007] OJ C306/1.

If you are citing Regulations, Directives, Decisions, Recommendations or Opinions, include the legislation type, number and title before following the above convention. Note that the year precedes the running number in Directives, but follows it in Regulations.

Regulation (EC) 852/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on the hygiene of foodstuffs [2004] OJ L139/1.

Directive (EU) 2016/681 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 April 2016 on the use of passenger name record (PNR) data for the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of terrorist offences and serious crime [2016] OJ L119/132.

Short forms and pinpoints

It is possible to abbreviate in the text and footnotes after the first full citation. So the above citation could be abbreviated to the PNR Directive. In the footnotes you can just use the document type and number, so
Dir 2016/681.

When pinpointing include the part/paragraph information as shown for Statutory Instruments.


European Court of Justice and General Court

Since 1989 case numbers have been prefixed in the following way:

  • C - European Court of Justice (ECJ). Do not add a C for pre-1989 cases
  • T - General Court (GC) (CFI until 2009)
  • F - Civil Service Tribunal

Where possible cite from the official reports – ECR. ECJ case are reported in volume 1 - ECR I-. GC cases are reported in volume 2 - ECR II-.

Case number case name [year] report abbreviation first page

Case T-263/07 Estonia v Commission [2009] ECR II-3463.

Joined Cases T-218-240/03 Boyle v Commission [2006] ECR II-1699, paras 5-7.

If a case is as yet unreported, use the notice citation from the OJ.

Case T-812/17 Seco Belgium and Vinçotte v Parliament [2017] OJ C52/39.

The European Court of Human Rights

For cases post 1996 cite from the official reports, Reports of Judgements and Decisions (ECHR) or the European Human Rights Reports (EHRR). Be consistent in the report series you choose to use. Cases prior to 1996 were reported in a series called Series A and numbered consecutively.

Case names (year) volume, law report abbreviation first page number

X and Y v Netherlands (1985) 8 EHRR 235.

Kjeldsen v Denmark (1976) Series A no 23.

For unreported cases give the application number and then (ECtHR, date)

Hristoskov v. Bulgaria App no 50760/09 (ECtHR, 15 February 2018).

Other jurisdictions

Cite cases and legislation from other jurisdiction as they would be cited in their own jurisdiction, but use minimal punctuation as is familiar in the OSCOLA convention, e.g. remove full stops from abbreviations. Refer to OSCOLA 4th Edition, sections 2.8 and 4.3 for further guidance.

Secondary Sources


Do not include edition details for first editions.

Author, Title Volume if applicable (Edition Publisher Year) Paragraph or page number

Catherine Elliott and Frances Quinn, English Legal System (11th edn, Pearson Education 2010) 175.

More than three authors

Alan Dashwood and others, Wyatt & Dashwood's European Union Law (6th edn, Hart 2011) 35.

Edited or translated book

For edited or translated books add (ed) (tr) or (eds) (trs) after the author details:

Nicky Priaulx and Anthony Wrigley (eds), Ethics, Law and Society, vol 5 (Ashgate Publishing 2013).


Use paragraphs when pinpointing if they are numbered, otherwise use page numbers. Paragraphs should have para preceding the number – para 214

Edited book

When citing a book chapter or essay in an edited book, cite the author of the chapter or essay and then include the book details. It is not necessary to include page or paragraph numbers.

Author, ‘Title’ in Editor (ed/s), Title (Edition, Publisher year)

Satnam Choongh, ‘Doing Ethnographic Research: Lessons from a Case Study’ in Mike McConville and Wing Hong Chui (eds), Research Methods for Law (Edinburgh University Press 2007).


Title (Edition, Year) Volume, Paragraph

Halsbury’s Statutes (4th edn, 2012) vol 26, para 361.

Journal articles

Journal titles can be abbreviated – see Index to legal Citations and Abbreviations by Donald Raistrick, available in the Law Library reference collection. Or use Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations online: http://www.legalabbrevs.cardiff.ac.uk/. Be consistent if you choose to use abbreviations.

Journal without a separate volume number - the year denotes the volume. Note the square brackets with the year.

Author, ‘Title’ [Year] Journal name or abbreviation, first page of article

Jeff King, ‘The Pervasiveness of Polycentricity’ [2008] PL 101.

Journal with a separate volume number. Note the round bracket for the year, followed by the volume number.

Author, ‘Title’ (Year) volume Journal name or abbreviation, first page of article

Dan Priel, ‘In Defence of Quasi-Contract’ (2012) 75 MLR 54.

Only include issue numbers (in brackets after the volume) if the page numbers begin again in each volume or issue, rather than continuing from the previous one.

If pinpointing, use a comma and insert the page number after the first page number

Julian Roberts, ‘Aggravating and Mitigating Factors at Sentencing: Towards Greater Consistency of Application’ [2008] Crim LR 264, 272.

Case notes

Treat as a journal article, and use the title or name of case and add (note) at the end.

Andrew Roberts, ‘R v Ross’ [2008] Crim LR 306 (note).

Hansard and parliamentary reports


HL - House of Lords debates

HC - House of Commons debates

HL Deb OR HC Deb date, volume, col(s)

HC Deb 2 February 2018, vol 635, col 1177.

HL Deb 1 February 2018, vol 788, cols 1773-1788.

For debates in Public Bill committees of the House of Commons, do not use HC, cite:

Title of debate date, cols

Financial Guidance and Claims Bill Deb 1 February 2018, cols 1-28.

Joint & select committee reports

Select committees

Name of committee, title of report (HL or HC, session, paper number and volume number if present in roman numerals)

Select Committee on the High Speed Rail (London - West Midlands) Bill, High Speed Rail (London - West Midlands) Bill (HC 2015-2016, 129) paras 67-71.

Joint committees

As above, but include both House of Lords and House of Commons papers numbers in that order.

Joint Committee on Human Rights, The Government’s policy on the use of drones for targeted killing (2015-2016, HL 141, HC 574).

Command papers

This includes White and Green Papers, treaties, government responses to select committee reports and inquiry reports.

Department or body responsible for the report, title (command paper* number, year) para

Department of Health and Department of Education, Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Provision: a Green Paper (Cm 9523, 2017) para 16.

* the form of command paper varies, but it should state it on the report, e.g. Cm, Cd, Cmnd, Cmd, C (1st series), C 2nd series.

Law Commission reports

Law Commission, Title (Law Com No*, year) paras

Law Commission, Technical Issues in Charity Law (Law Com No 375, 2017) paras 4.10-4.13.

* For consultation papers insert CP (Law Com CP No)


Author, ‘title’ (type of thesis, university Year)

Salik Irfan, ‘National law v Community law: a close review of the principle of supremacy’ (LLB thesis, University of Bolton 2010).

Newspaper article

Print newspaper article

Reporter*, ‘Title’ Newspaper (City of publication, date) page number/s

Sarah Butler, ‘Change Law to Protect Gig Economy Workers, MPs' Report Urges’ The Guardian (London, 20 November, 2017) 22.

Online newspaper article

The page number is replaced with the online access details.

Reporter*, ‘Title’ Newspaper (City of publication, date) <url> accessed date

Christopher Hope, 'Theresa May wins backing of major Tory donors as Hammond aide suggests 3pc tariff on goods after Brexit' The Telegraph (London, 5 February, 2018) <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2018/02/05/theresa-may-wins-backing-major-tory-donors-enters-defining-week/> accessed 5 February 2018.

* If the citation is to an editorial piece without an author, cite the author as Editorial.

Webpage and blog

Author*, ‘Title’ (Website name, date) <url> accessed date

‘Lauri Love case: Hacking Suspect Wins Extradition Appeal’ (BBC News, 5 February 2018) <http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-42946540> accessed 6 February 2018.

Library La Trobe University, ‘Why can't I just Google?’ (YouTube, 9 December 2010) <https://www.youtube.com/> accessed 3 December 2015.

Sarah Taylor, ‘Resource focus: EBSCO Education’ (University of Bolton Electronic Resources Blog, 17 January 2018) <https://eresourcesbolton.wordpress.com/2018/01/17/resource-focus-ebsco-education/> accessed 6 February 2018.

* Where possible identify the author. If that information is not available and you still consider the source to be credible, begin the citation with the title.

Communication - letters, emails, interviews


Only include the interviewers name if it is not you conducting the interview.

(Interviewer), Interview with interviewee, position, institution if applicable, location (full date)

Interview with Dawn Grundy, Academic Librarian, The Peter Marsh Library, University of Bolton (Bolton, United Kingdom, 15 February 2018).

Email and letters

If the email or letter is to or from you, do not include your name, use ‘author’.

Email/letter from ….. to ….. (full date)

Email from author to Lord Brown (16 February 2018).

Letter from Archbishop of Boston to Reverend Daniel Graham (9 February 1996).



The law bibliography is an alphabetical list of all of the secondary sources that you have cited in your text. It is divided into parts in the following order:

  1. Table of cases
  2. Table of legislation
  3. Any other tables
  4. Secondary sources

Table of cases

Divide the table into different jurisdictions (e.g. English, EU) then list in alphabetical order of the first significant word.

If you don’t have a long list of cases it is not necessary to divide by jurisdiction.

Do not use italics on the case names.

EU cases should be listed alphabetically by the first party name. Omit the word case and put the number in brackets after the case name as shown below. If you have divided by jurisdiction, list ECJ, CFI and Commission decisions separately in chronological and numerical order. Cite the case number first as in the footnotes, but omit the word case.

Adam v Ward [1917] AC 309 (HL) 9-13

Barclay v British Airways plc [2008] EWCA Civ 1419, [2010] QBD 187 [24]-[33]

Estonia v Commission (T-263/07) [2009] ECR II-3463.

Table of legislation

List alphabetically by the first significant word.

List every statute cited. Sub-divide each entry to show which parts of the statute are cited in your text.

Divide into jurisdictions if you have a long list.

Statutory instruments should be listed separately at the end.

Health Act 1999, s 2

National Health Service (Consequential Provisions) Act 2006, s 8(2)(a)

Taxation (Cross-border Trade) HC Bill (2017-19) [128] s 24(2)

Antarctic (Recognised Assistance Dog) Regulations 2016, SI 2016/697

Secondary sources

Items should be arranged alphabetically and take the same form as you have used in your footnotes, with three important exceptions:

1. Author’s surname should come first.

2. Use the author’s initials only, rather than the full name

 Elliott C and Quinn F, English Legal System (7th edn, Pearson Education Limited 2016)

3. The titles of unattributed works (i.e. without a named author) should be preceded by a double em-dash. These entries should be placed at the beginning of the bibliography in alphabetical order based on the first major word of the title.

-- Holy Bible: Old And New Testaments: King James Version presented side by side with The Living Bible (PTL Publishing 1983)

Works by the same author:

  • arrange in order of publication – oldest first
  • if there is more than one work published in the same year, order them alphabetically by title
  • after the first entry replace the author’s name with two em-dashes
  • order any co-authored titles after the author’s sole-authored works
  • if there is more than one co-authored title, order alphabetically by the co-authors name.

Elliott C, French Criminal Law (Willan Publishing 2001)

-- English Legal System Sourcebook (Longman 2006)

-- Jeanpierre E and Vernon C, French Legal System (2nd edn, Pearson Education 2016)

-- Quinn F, Contract Law (7th edn, Pearson Longman 2009)

-- Quinn F, Tort Law (7th edn, Pearson 2009)

-- Quinn F, English Legal System (7th edn, Pearson Education 2016)