Answered By: Jonathan Faerber (he/him/his)
Last Updated: Sep 16, 2023     Views: 10

Most cases from Canadian court systems can be accessed through the Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII). The institute assigns each of the cases in their database a serial number, and these serial numbers can be used to cite cases without a neutral citation (McGill Law Journal, 2023, E-37). 

However, please use the following format for older cases listed in the CanLII database or cases from other courts that are not on the Canadian Citation Committee list of courts using neutral citation

  • Case Name, Year + CanLII identifier + (Abbreviated name of court in parentheses)

For example:

  • R v Oakes, 1986 CanLII 46 (SCC)

This citation includes the following elements:

  • Case name: R v Oakes
  • Year: 1986
  • Identifier: CanLII 46
  • Abbreviated name of court in parentheses (Supreme Court of Canada): (SCC)

In general, do not use this format to cite cases included in the Canadian Citation Committee's list (McGill Law Journal, 2023, E-45). For example, even though a case like York University v Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency is available from CanLII, since the case also has a neutral citation, a citation to the case will not include its CanLII identifier. Some cases may not have a neutral citation and may not be available from CanLII. To cite these, please follow the format for citing cases from a print reporter.


McGill Law Journal. (2023). Canadian guide to uniform legal citation (10th ed.). Thomson Reuters.