Canadian Legal Research Blog

BC Court of Appeal adopts new Citation of Authorities directive

The BC Court of Appeal has adopted a new directive on Citation of Authorities, effective May 30, 2013.

The directive adopts the citation standards in the 7th edition of the Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation (the McGill Guide), except where the directive establishes a different rule.

One of these instances relates to periods. The new directive states:

Always use periods within citations where omitted by the McGill Guide.

Despite this traditional position on periods, the directive introduces several significant changes:

  • Always cite to the neutral citation first. If no neutral citation is available, then cite to a printed reporter or electronic service first.
  • Citations to a case from an electronic service should use that service’s citation format, rather than adding a reference to the electronic source at the end of the citation in parentheses.
  • Parallel citations are optional. It is therefore no longer necessary to include print reporter citations where a neutral citation or electronic service citation is used. This effectively eliminates the restriction on using the unofficial paragraph pinpoints in electronic versions of older cases, provided that the citation is to the electronic service rather than to the print reporter.
  • When relying on an authority cited by another party, always cite to the version within that party’s factum or book of authorities, and omit the authority from your book of authorities. Joint books of authorities are strongly preferred, and will eliminate unnecessary flipping between books.
  • A citation format for loose-leaf services is specified, in preference to the McGill Guide format.
  • Counsel are encouraged to hyperlink case authorities in the electronic version of their factums to the Superior Courts judgment database, the Supreme Court of Canada collection maintained by Lexum, or CanLII.

Examples are included throughout the directive to make it as clear as possible. There is also a section on stylistic considerations. Among other things, it deals with overuse of capitalization, and discourages formalistic language and Latin terms.

I think the legal profession in British Columbia will welcome these changes, although they would probably be even happier if the periods were gone!


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