The information contained within these pages is intended as a general referencing guideline.
Please check with your supervisor to ensure that you are following the specific guidelines required by your school.
The Oxford University Standard for Citation of Legal Authorities (OSCOLA) is designed to facilitate accurate citation of authorities, legislation, and other legal materials. It is widely used in law schools and by journal and book publishers in the UK and beyond.
OSCOLA is edited by the Oxford Law Faculty, in consultation with the OSCOLA Editorial Advisory Board.
The information detailed within this webpage is based on the Book:
Whenever you paraphrase or quote a source or use the ideas of another person, you need to cite the source of the material.
Number your footnotes continuously through your document, starting at 1.
It is vital to acknowledge your sources, both to improve the quality of your essay and to avoid plagiarism (discussed in more detail in the essay writing guide).
At the end of your essay there should be a bibliography listing the materials that you have used. Different types of source (books, articles, cases, etc) should be in separate sections.
Books and articles should be listed in alphabetical order according to the surname of the author; cases should be given alphabetically according to the name of the first named party; other materials should be presented alphabetically by title. In addition to the bibliography, you should refer to your sources in your essay itself.
Different disciplines have different traditions as to how sources are referenced, both in your bibliography and in your essay. Below are suggestions for law subjects.
For law subjects a suitable referencing system is the Oxford Standard for the Citation of Legal Authorities (OSCOLA). Produced by the Faculty of Law in Oxford, this is used in many law schools in the United Kingdom and by some law publishers
Use footnotes to give details of your sources and not at the end of your work.
You should use the format that you would use in your bibliography; it is unnecessary to put “See” before the citation. However, you will need to add “pinpoints” to indicate the relevant page(s) or paragraph(s) of the book, article, case, etc. that contains the relevant discussion. In OSCOLA specific pages are referred to by giving the page number (without any “page”or “p” before it), while paragraphs are denoted by using square brackets (without any“ para”).
Do not use full stops in abbreviations. Separate citations with a semi-colon.
The following provide examples of how you reference primary sources.
Give the party names, followed by the neutral citation, followed by the Law Reports citation (eg AC, Ch, QB). If there is no neutral citation, give the Law Reports citation followed by the court in brackets. If the case is not reported in the Law Reports, cite the All ER or the WLR, or failing that a specialist report.
Corr v IBC Vehicles Ltd  UKHL 13,  1 AC 884
R (Roberts) v Parole Board  EWCA Civ 1031,  QB 410
Page v Smith  AC 155 (HL)
When pinpointing, give paragraph numbers in square brackets at the end of the citation. If the judgment has no paragraph numbers, provide the page number pinpoint after the court.
Callery v Gray  EWCA Civ 1117,  1 WLR 2112 , 
Bunt v Tilley  EWHC 407 (QB),  3 All ER 336 –
R v Leeds County Court, ex p Morris  QB 523 (QB) 530–31
If citing a particular judge:
Arscott v The Coal Authority  EWCA Civ 892,  Env LR 6  (Laws LJ)
Act of Supremacy 1558
Human Rights Act 1998, s 15(1)(b)
Penalties for Disorderly Behaviour (Amendment of Minimum Age) Order 2004, SI 2004/3166
Consolidated Version of the Treaty on European Union  OJ C115/13
Council Regulation (EC) 139/2004 on the control of concentrations between undertakings (EC Merger Regulation)  OJ L24/1, art 5
Case C–176/03 Commission v Council  ECR I–7879, paras 47–48
Omojudi v UK (2009) 51 EHRR 10
Osman v UK ECHR 1998–VIII 3124
Balogh v Hungary App no 47940/99 (ECHR, 20 July 2004)
Simpson v UK (1989) 64 DR 188
This guide provides you with examples of how to cite references correctly in the text of your assignments.
OSCOLA does not purport to be comprehensive, but gives rules and examples for the main UK legal primary sources, and for many types of secondary sources. As far as possible, the guidelines in OSCOLA are based on common practice in UK legal citation, but with a minimum of punctuation. When citing materials not mentioned in OSCOLA, use the general principles in OSCOLA as a guide, and try to maintain consistency.
The following provide examples of how you reference secondary sources.
Give the author’s name in the same form as in the publication, except in bibliographies, where you should give only the surname followed by the initial(s). Give relevant information about editions, translators and so forth before the publisher, and give page numbers at the end of the citation, after the brackets.
Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan (first published 1651, Penguin 1985) 268
Gareth Jones, Goff and Jones: The Law of Restitution (1st supp, 7th edn, Sweet & Maxwell 2009)
K Zweigert and H Kötz, An Introduction to Comparative Law (Tony Weir tr, 3rd edn, OUP 1998)
Francis Rose, ‘The Evolution of the Species’ in Andrew Burrows and Alan Rodger (eds), Mapping the Law: Essays in Memory of Peter Birks (OUP 2006
Halsbury’s Laws (5th edn, 2010) vol 57, para 53
Paul Craig, ‘Theory, “Pure Theory” and Values in Public Law’  PL 440
When pinpointing, put a comma between the first page of the article and the page pinpoint.
JAG Griffith, ‘The Common Law and the Political
Constitution’ (2001) 117 LQR 42, 64
Graham Greenleaf, ‘The Global Development of Free Access to Legal Information’ (2010) 1(1) EJLT < http://ejlt.org//article/view/17 > accessed 27 July 2010
Department for International Development, Eliminating World Poverty: Building our Common Future (White Paper, Cm 7656, 2009) ch 5 Law Commission, Reforming Bribery (Law Com No 313, 2008) paras .12–3.17
Sarah Cole, ‘Virtual Friend Fires Employee’ (Naked Law, 1 May 2009) www.nakedlaw.com/2009/05/index.html accessed 19 November 2009
Jane Croft, ‘Supreme Court Warns on Quality’ Financial Times (London, 1 July 2010) 3
The OSCOLA style is not available in the EndNote software, But can be downloaded from this page. Two versions of the OSCOLA style are available: OSCOLA 4th edn, which is suitable for installation on institutional servers or shared computers, and OSCOLA 2 4th edn which is customised for use on personal computers.
EndNote Online is free web-based implementation of EndNote. OSCOLA is one of the styles available when using EndNote Online.
Mendeley is a free reference manager and an academic social network. Manage your research, showcase your work, connect and collaborate with others.
OSCOLA is available as a style to download and add.
Cardiff University provide a thorough tutorial for Citing the law, which will show you how to:
Cardiff also provide the Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations: This database allows you to search for the meaning of abbreviations for English language legal publications, from the British Isles, the Commonwealth and the United States, including those covering international and comparative law.