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Referencing: OSCOLA (Law)

A guide to the referencing styles used at the University of Strathclyde

OSCOLA: the Oxford University Standard for Citation of Legal Authorities 4th Edition

OSCOLA: the Oxford University Standard for Citation of Legal Authorities is a well regarded and commonly used guide to legal citation.

It is not the only standard for citing legal materials and you should always check with your School or supervisor in order to confirm how you are expected to reference materials.

OSCOLA online

OSCOLA is available to download from the OSCOLA website:

Resources include the full OSCOLA guide:

and a 'quick reference' guide:

There is also information about using OSCOLA styles with EndNote and other reference management software.

OSCOLA in the Library

You can also access printed copies in the Andersonian Library:

Examples of citing sources using OSCOLA

These are some examples of how you might cite some common legal materials using OSCOLA.

There is a brief summary of OSCOLA as a footnote style which uses minimal punctuation, followed by a description of how you can cite subsequent citations to the same source and how you should include quotations.

Then examples are given of how you might cite:

However, for more complete guidance please make sure you refer to the full OSCOLA guide or the 'quick reference guide':

Footnote style (OSCOLA Section 1.1)

OSCOLA is a footnote style: all citations appear in footnotes. OSCOLA does not use endnotes or in-text citations.

When citing any source, either directly (as a quotation) or indirectly (by paraphrasing or referring to ideas in a source), cite the reference in a footnote, in the style indicated in OSCOLA .

Indicate footnotes with a superscript number which should appear after any relevant punctuation in the text.

Put the footnote marker at the end of a sentence, unless for the sake of clarity it is necessary to put it directly after the word or phrase to which it relates .

Close footnotes with a full stop.

Where more than one citation is given in a single footnote reference, separate them with semi-colons.

Recent cases have raised questions about the extent of executive power and its relationship to parliamentary sovereignty.15 However, this does not mean that...

15 Cherry v Advocate General [2019] CSIH 49, 2020 SC 37; R (on the application of Miller) v Prime Minister [2019] UKSC 41, [2020] AC 373.

Minimal punctuation

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 .

This means that the use of full stops/periods and commas in a citation is kept to a minimum - they are only used when absolutely necessary for clarity. So if you see legal citations in, for example, a database which include full stops you would need to remove these to conform with the OSCOLA style:

Citation in Westlaw Citation conforming to OSCOLA
2019 S.C. 243 2019 SC 243

Subsequent citations - (OSCOLA section 1.2)

If you cite a source and then cite it again later in your work, you need not cite the source in full in each subsequent citation. You can 'briefly identify the source and provide a cross-citation to the footnote in which the full citation can be found'. This cross-citation would be in the form (n 3) - where 'n' indicates 'note' and  '3' is the number of the footnote - so the reader knows to look at footnote 3 to find the full citation.

If the subsequent citation is in the footnote immediately following the full citation, you can use ‘ibid’ instead .

3 Cherry v Advocate General [2019] CSIH 49, 2020 SC 37.

4 ibid [53]–[60] (Lord Carloway).

...

12 Cherry (n 3).

For more detail on how to indicate subsequent citations refer to section 1.2.1 of OSCOLA 4th edn.

Quotations (OSCOLA section 1.5)

Up to three lines

You should incorporate quotations of up to three lines into the text within single quotation marks:

Lord Carloway described this period of prorogation as 'an extraordinary length of time'.27

Quotations within short quotations have double quotation marks round them ("...").

Longer than three lines

You should present longer quotations in an indented paragraph. You should not use quotation marks (except for any quotation within a quotation, where single quotation marks should be used).

In Cherry Lord Carloway highlighted the importance of the real reason for prorogation:

At the cabinet meeting, the tenor of the PM’s remarks, and the discussion around them, point to the various factors being used publicly to deflect from the real reason for the prorogation (see Porter v Magill , Lord Scott at [2002] 2 A.C., p.506, para.144). That reason, as is reflected in the frequent references to it in the papers, centred on Brexit and not the intervention of the party conferences or the new legislative programme.

The fact that there will be some days in September and October during which Parliament will be sitting, and thus potentially some time to discuss Brexit, does not detract from the general position that the prorogation is intended unlawfully to restrict that time. The court is not dictating the days on which Parliament should sit. That is a matter for Parliament to decide. It is merely holding that a particular attempt to restrict the available days is unlawful.29

For detailed guidance on quotations refer to section 1.5 of OSCOLA 4th edn.

Electronic sources

The general guidance is: 'If you source a publication online which is also available in hard copy, cite the hard copy version . There is no need to cite an electronic source for such a publication '. (OSCOLA section 3.1.4)

This means that if you access a report of a case, a statute, or a journal article on a database service (such as Westlaw or Lexis Library) you need not indicate that you found it on that service nor need you provide the web address. The same is true for an eBook, if you can cite the book as if it were a printed book then you need not include the web address.

Cases (OSCOLA sections 2.1 - 2.3)

Scottish judgments (with neutral citation)

Anderson v Imrie [2018] CSIH 79, 2019 SC 243 

Anderson v Imrie [2018] CSIH 79, 2019 SC 243 
Case Name neutral citation, report citation (most authoritative report)
Scottish judgments (with no neutral citation available)

Drury v McGarvie 1993 SC 95 (IH)

Drury v McGarvie

1993 SC 95 (IH)
Case Name report citation (most authoritative report) (court abbreviation) - if necessary
English and Welsh judgments (with neutral citation)

Williams v Hackney LBC [2018] UKSC 37, [2019] AC 421

Williams v Hackney LBC [2018] UKSC 37, [2019] AC 421
Case Name neutral citation, report citation (most authoritative report)
English and Welsh judgments (with no neutral citation available)

Lloyd v McMahon [1987] AC 625 (HL)

Lloyd v McMahon

[1987] AC 625 (HL)
Case Name report citation (most authoritative report) (court abbreviation)
Pinpoints

To cite a specific part of a judgment with numbered paragraphs (e.g. most judgments with neutral citations) include the paragraph number(s) in the footnote citations, e.g.:

Anderson v Imrie [2018] CSIH 79, 2019 SC 243 [3]

Williams v Hackney LBC [2018] UKSC 37, [2019] AC 421 [62]–[69]

To cite a specific part of a judgment with no numbered paragraphs, include the page number(s) in the footnote citations, e.g.:

Drury v McGarvie 1993 SC 95 (IH) 99

Lloyd v McMahon [1987] AC 625 (HL) 682, 685

For more detailed guidance refer to OSCOLA 4th edn sections 2.1 - 2.3. For more general guidance on understanding citations to cases see:

Legislation (OSCOLA sections 2.4 - 2.5)

Acts of the Scottish Parliament

Age of Criminal Responsibility (Scotland) Act 2019 (asp 7)

Age of Criminal Responsibility (Scotland) Act 2019 (asp 7)
Name of Act year (asp Act of the Scottish Parliament number)
Scottish Statutory Instruments

The Horse Passports (Scotland) Regulations 2005, SSI 2005/223

The Horse Passports (Scotland) Regulations 2005, SSI 2005/223
Name of Statutory Instrument year, SSI year/number
UK Acts

Children (Scotland) Act 1995

Children (Scotland) Act 1995
Name of Act year
Statutory Instruments (UK)

Feed-in Tariffs Order 2012, SI 2012/2782

Feed-in Tariffs Order 2012, SI 2012/2782
Name of Statutory Instrument year, SI year/number

Pinpoints

The details of how to refer to specific parts of legislation are covered in sections 2.4.2 and 2.5.3 of OSCOLA 4th edn. The following abbreviations are used in footnotes:

part/parts pt/pts
section/sections s/ss
subsection/subsections sub-s/sub-ss
paragraph/paragraphs para/paras
subparagraph/subparagraphs subpara/subparas
schedule/schedules sch/schs
regulation/regulations reg/regs
rule/rules r/rr
article/articles art/arts

If specifying a paragraph or subsection as part of a section, use only the abbreviation for the section .

Examples:

Age of Criminal Responsibility (Scotland) Act 2019 (asp 7), s 28(4)(a)(i)

The Horse Passports (Scotland) Regulations 2005, SSI 2005/223, reg 13(2)

Children (Scotland) Act 1995, sch 4

Feed-in Tariffs Order 2012, SI 2012/2782, art 7(2)(a)

For more detailed guidance refer to OSCOLA 4th edn sections 2.4 - 2.5. For more general guidance on understanding citations to legislation see:

Secondary sources (OSCOLA Chapter 3)

Book (authored)

Edwina Higgins and Laura Tatham, Successful Legal Writing (3rd edn, Sweet & Maxwell 2015)

Edwina Higgins and Laura Tatham, Successful Legal Writing (3rd edn, Sweet & Maxwell 2015)
Author, Title (edition*, Publisher year)

*Only second and subsequent editions are usually indicated - it is not usual to include edition information if you are citing the first edition of a book.

Chapter in edited book

Mark Elliot, 'Parliamentary Sovereignty in a Changing Constitutional Landscape' in Jeffrey L Jowell and Colm O'Cinneide (eds), The Changing Constitution (9th edn, OUP 2019)

Mark Elliot, 'Parliamentary Sovereignty in a Changing Constitutional Landscape' in Jeffrey L Jowell and Colm O'Cinneide (eds), The Changing Constitution (9th edn, OUP 2019)
Author, 'Title' in Editor (ed), Book title (edition, Publisher year)
Journal article

Patrick Birkinshaw, 'Brexit's Challenge to the UK's Unwritten Constitution' (2020) 26 EPL 29

Patrick Birkinshaw, 'Brexit's Challenge to the UK's Unwritten Constitution' (2020) 26 European Public Law 29

Paul Craig, 'The Supreme Court, Prorogation and Constitutional Principle' [2020] PL 248

Patrick Birkinshaw, 'Brexit's Challenge to the UK's Unwritten Constitution' (2020) 26 EPL 29
Patrick Birkinshaw, 'Brexit's Challenge to the UK's Unwritten Constitution' (2020) 26 European Public Law 29
Paul Craig, 'The Supreme Court, Prorogation and Constitutional Principle' [2020] PL 248
Author, 'Article Title' year* volume** Journal Name or Abbreviation*** First page of article

*year of publication, in square brackets if it identifies the volume, in round brackets if there is a separate volume number

**the volume number if there is one (include an issue number only if the page numbers begin again for each issue within a volume, in which case put the issue number in brackets immediately after the volume number)

***the name of the journal can be in full or abbreviated form - but be consistent

Web pages and blogs (OSCOLA section 3.4.8)

The general guidance in OSCOLA is: 'Where there is no relevant advice elsewhere in OSCOLA, follow the general principles for secondary sources (section 3.1) when citing websites and blogs'.

Citations of online only publications should end with the web address (or ‘url’) in angled brackets (< >), followed by the date you most recently accessed it. You should only include ‘http://’ only if the web address does not begin with ‘www’.

Blog

Paul Craig, 'Prorogation: Constitutional Principle and Law, Fact and Causation' (UK Constitutional Law Blog, 2 September 2019) <https://ukconstitutionallaw.org/2019/09/02/paul-craig-prorogation-constitutional-principle-and-law-fact-and-causation/> accessed 13 May 2020

Paul Craig, 'Prorogation: Constitutional Principle and Law, Fact and Causation' (UK Constitutional Law Blog, 2 September 2019) <https://ukconstitutionallaw.org/2019/09/02/paul-craig-prorogation-constitutional-principle-and-law-fact-and-causation/> accessed 13 May 2020
Author, 'Article/Posting Title' (Blog Name, publication date) <URL> accessed date
Web page

Georgian Presidency of the Council of Europe, 'Justice Systems Must HelpChildren Overcome Fear and Trauma, Not Make Them Worse' (Council of Europe,12 May 2020) <www.coe.int/en/web/portal/-/justice-systems-must-help-children-overcome-fear-and-trauma-not-make-them-worse> accessed 24 May 2020

Georgian Presidency of the Council of Europe,

'Justice Systems Must HelpChildren Overcome Fear and Trauma, Not Make Them Worse'

(Council of Europe, 12 May 2020) <www.coe.int/en/web/portal/-/justice-systems-must-help-children-overcome-fear-and-trauma-not-make-them-worse> accessed 24 May 2020
Author, 'Web Page Title' (Website, publication date) <URL> accessed date

 

Additional guides and tutorials on using OSCOLA

These resources from Cardiff University provide additional guidance on using OSCOLA:

OSCOLA Style for EndNote

An OSCOLA 4th Edn style is available for both EndNote (Desktop) and EndNote Online.

Selecting OSCOLA as an Output Style

Endnote (Desktop)

On PCs in University IT Labs in EndNote (Desktop) you can select OSCOLA_4th_edn from the Style Manager (you may need to follow the link to 'Get More on the Web...' if the style does not appear in your list).

If you have EndNote on your own computer, you can download the OSCOLA_2_4th_edn style from the OSCOLA website.

Please see further guidance on the OSCOLA website:

Endnote Online

In EndNote Online you can select either OSCOLA_4th_edn or OSCOLA_2_4th_edn from the list of bibliographic styles.

Cite While You Write

When using EndNote's Cite While You Write function in Word, because OSCOLA is a footnote style, you need to use the 'Insert Footnote' function (under the 'References' tab) before using the 'Insert Citation' option (under the 'EndNote' tab).

Entering References

You should follow guidance on how to enter information in each reference record in EndNote. If information is not in the field required for the OSCOLA style then references may not appear in the correct form in citations or bibliographies. Guidance on how to use the style including how to enter information for each reference is available on the OSCOLA support pages:

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