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LAW Legal Citation (McGill Guide) Quick Reference

Intended to be a quick reference for footnoting some common types of citations for Canadian legal publications.


The 9th Edition of the McGill Guide prefers the use of neutral citation for cases whenever possible. The neutral cite standard began between 1998 and 2006, depending on the court. Therefore, citations to cases prior to 1998 do not have neutral citations.

Details for Canadian jurisdictional abbreviations are found in Appendix A, page A-5. Canadian Court and Tribunal abbreviations are found in Appendix B2, pages A-15 through A-31. Specific neutral citation examples in English can be found in Appendix B-3, pp. A-27 through A-31.

New to the 9th: If a neutral citation is available, you do not need to use a parallel citation. Additionally, online case databases now are on par with unofficial reporters in terms of which reporters to select for parallel citations, but preferred reporters are marked with a * in the McGill Guide appendix to reporters. Use these preferred reporters for citations over non-preferred reporters if your case is published in a preferred reporter.


Here are some Canadian case citation examples to get you started (Chapter 3):

Sharma v Edmonton (Police Service), 2019 ABCA 501.

R v Cole, 2012 SCC 53 at para 67.

R v Big M Drug Mart, [1985] 1 SCR 295 at 315, 18 DLR (4th) 321.

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation v Keegstra (1986), 77 AR 249, 35 DLR (4th) 76 (CA).

Robitaille v Vancouver Hockey Club, 124 DLR (3d) 228 at 229, [1981] 2 WWR 481 (BCCA).

Note: Although the McGill Guide requires regular edition abbreviations for books, case reporter editions use 2d and 3d instead of 2nd and 3rd, as in the immediately preceding example.


Here are some Administrative Bodies and Tribunals examples to get you started (Rule 3.15):

Re Sarg Oils Ltd, 2011 ABERCB 32.

Clarke Institute of Psychiatry v Ontario Nurses' Assn (Adusei Grievance) (2001), 95 LAC (4th) 154 (OLRB).


Here are some Foreign case citation examples to get you started (Chapter 7, then by country):

United Kingdom:

Tulk v Moxhay, [1848] 1 H & Tw 105.

Bushell v Secretary of State for the Environment, [1981] AC 75 (HL (Eng)).

Hart v Hart, [2017] EWCA Civ 1306..

United States:

Massachusetts v Environmental Protection Agency, 549 US 497 (2007).

Animal Legal Defense Fund v United States, 404 F Supp (3d) 1294 (D Or 2019).

South Fork Water and Sanitation District v Town of South Fork, 252 P (3d) 465 (Colo 2011).


Here is an International case citation example to get you started (Chapter 5.2):

Case Concerning Military and Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua (Nicaragua v United States of America) [1986] ICJ Rep No 14.

Print Reporters

Alliance of Canadian Cinema Television and Radio Artists v Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (1990), 91 CLLC 16 (CLRB).

Online Decisions (other than major databases)


VDN Cable Inc, on behalf of a corporation to be incorporated, Toronto, Ontario (January 2005), 2005-1, online: CRTC <> []

Unpublished Cases (Chapter 3.8)

Only cite a case to on-line resources, such as Quicklaw or Westlaw, if there is no print source or neutral citation available for the unpublished case.

R v Syncrude Canada Ltd, 2010 ABPC 154, 2010 CarswellAlta 981 (WL Can).

For an unpublished case without a neutral citation which is not available online, include the full date of the decision, the judicial district, and the docket number as well as the jurisdiction and court.

R v Crete (18 April 1991), Ottawa 97/03674 (Ont Prov Ct).


Alberta Citation of Authorities

The Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta issued a Notice to the Profession for Citation of Authorities. This is NP#2013-06 and was released on November 12, 2013.