Answered By: Jonathan Faerber
Last Updated: Oct 08, 2020     Views: 100

In addition to the recent neutral citation classification system used in many Canadian courts beginning from the late 90s, official law “reports” also classify and curate formal records of cases (Queen's University Library, n.d.). The names of these official law reports are still used to identify and reference notable cases from courts for which a neutral citation does not (or did not) exist at the time the law report published the case. Although the format for referencing cases and decisions from law reports is somewhat more complex than references to decisions with a neutral citation, several elements are similar. As with a neutral citation, a citation and reference to a print reporter begin with the title of the case and the year the decision was published. The next three elements—the volume and name of the law report, as well as the location of the case in the report—refer specifically to the print reporter publishing the case. Occasionally, the citation will also conclude with the abbreviated name of the court in parentheses (when the law report is not a published record of a single court), in the following format:

  • Case Name, [Year] + Volume of law report* + Abbreviated name of law report + Page where the case is located in the law report (Abbreviated name of court).

So, for example, since R v Morgentaler appears on the 30th page of the first volume of the Supreme Court Reports in 1988, and since the Supreme Court did not assign neutral citations to cases until 2000, the above information from the Supreme Court Reports follows the case name, beginning with the year in square brackets:

  • R v Morgentaler, [1988] 1 SCR 30.

*In some cases, the law report does not publish multiple volumes in a single year, and only the year is required to identify the volume in which the case is published. In cases where the volume numbers are not indexed by year (the volume numbers begin from the first year the law report was published, rather than the beginning of every year of the law report’s publication), the year is included in parentheses as part of the title:

  • No report volume: Landels v Christie, [1923] SCR 39.
  • Volumes not numbered by year: R v Korpus (1998), 171 Sask R 223.

In the above examples, the following elements are included as follows:

  • Case name: Landels v Christie; R v Korpus (1998)
  • Year: [1923]
  • Volume of law report: 171
  • Abbreviated name of law report: SCR (Supreme Court Reports); Sask R (Saskatchewan Reports)
  • Page where the case is located in law report: 39; 223

For a partial list of major print reporters in Canada, please see “Print Reporters” section of the Queen’s University Library Legal Research Guide, and for more information about formatting titles in a legal citation to a case, please see What is a Style of Cause, and How is it Formatted in a Legal Citation?. Finally, please also see What is a Pinpoint, and How is it Used in a Legal Citation? and What is a Neutral Citation and How Do I Cite and Reference a Case with a Neutral Citation? for additional information on citing cases.


McGill Law Journal. (2018). Canadian guide to uniform legal citation (9th ed.). Thomson Reuters.

Queen’s University Library. (n.d.). Print reporters. Legal research guide.