Canadian Citation Committee
Accueil - Français Home - English Home Français

Neutral Citation Standard for Case Law
- Frequently Asked Questions -

[updated 2004-05-28]

Q. 1 How do we choose the Tribunal Identifier?

The identifier may be separated into two distinct parts, the prefix and the suffix that designate, respectively, the jurisdiction and the judicial institution.

The prefix is determined by the international ISO-3166-2 standard codes. The following table exposes these codes for Canadian provinces and territories.

Table 1 ISO-3166-2 codes
Province or TerritoryCode
* The code for Newfoundland & Labrador was changed in 2002 from NF to NL
** Exceptionally, the Northwest Territories Courts and Tribunals are using the prefix NWT (See Q. 2)
British ColumbiaBC
Prince-Edward IslandPE
New BrunswickNB
Nova ScotiaNS
Northwest TerritoriesNT**

As for the suffix, the judicial authority of the jurisdiction should determine it. The recommendations of the Committee on this subject are:

" The tribunal identifier codes must be distinct for French and English in case of courts or tribunals that systematically produce their decisions in both official languages. For example, the Supreme Court of Canada will be identified by the identifier codes, "CSC" and "SCC" in order to denote the French and English contexts.

A single tribunal identifier code can be used in cases where the decisions are not systematically published in both official languages.

If official names of tribunals are not adequate for direct development of distinct identifier codes but decisions are systematically published in more than one language, the standard allows identifier codes to be produced with the use of the suffixes "E" and "F". For example, the identifier codes for the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, in French the "Conseil de la radiodiffusion et des télécommunications canadiennes" will be: "CRTCE" and "CRTCF". They will be used to designate the English and French versions when citing decisions. "

Q. 2 Can we use a prefix other than the ones proposed by the Committee?

The Committee recommends the adoption of similar codes in order to insure cohesion between all identifiers. In an international perspective, the standard would be easily adaptable. However, the Committee is fully aware that two-letter codes can be inappropriate. The Northwest Territories Courts have adopted a 3 letter prefix, NWT, as it was deemed more representative of this jurisdiction's name.

Q. 3 Is the Style of Cause mandatory?

As like other citation methods, the style of cause is not a mandatory element. However, the use of the style of cause as a research tool is widespread. The style of cause is more mnemonic than the formal part of the citation. They are more frequently used to designate decisions. Thus, it is recommended to add the style of cause in order to better identify the decision. The formal part of the citation is more useful for file naming and Internet addresses of documents.

Q. 4 For Federal Jurisdictions, must we use the "CA" prefix for tribunal identifiers?

No! The three-letter "CAN" identifier will only be used in the case where international jurisdictions would like to cite a Canadian decision. Consequently, Federal jurisdictions will not bear a prefix and identifiers will only be constituted of the suffix designating the judicial institution.

Q. 5 Must the decisions that are only rendered orally on the bench have a neutral citation also?

Ideally, every judgment should be numbered and bear the neutral citation. For transcripts of oral judgments and for reasons that are issued in writing several days or weeks after the actual judgment, the year of citation assigned to the judgment should correspond to the date the judgment was rendered. Even when a neutral citation is attributed several days after it was delivered orally, the assigned ordinal number should simply be the next available number for this year, since the sequence number does not have to reflect the chronological order of judgments.

Q. 6 The Nunavut jurisdiction publishes its judgments in three official languages. Will the neutral citation still be applicable?

The neutral citation will equally be applicable to Nunavut. The language identifiers can be modified to make some room for decisions rendered in Inuktitut.

Q. 7 Is paragraph numbering mandatory?

No! Paragraph numbering is an optional element of the citation. However, more and more Canadian and international tribunals have begun systematically numbering their paragraphs. This assists with the conversion of decisions into computerized formats by replacing the pagination notion. The Committee encourages this transition.

Q. 8 Where is the neutral citation situated inside the decision?

For it to be easily accessible and visible, the Committee suggests that the citation be positioned in one of the top corners of the decision.

[Home]  [Français]

For any request or comment please write us at: ccc-ccr[at sign]

Copyright © 2003 Canadian Citation Committee