A case citation is a standard way of uniquely describing a case. It is important to adhere to the rules of citation so that the cases to which you refer can be easily identified and located by others. A citation for a reported judgment should contain:
Mabo and others v The State of Queensland (No2) (1992) 175 CLR 1
The parties are usually referred to as the plaintiff (the person or entity initiating the action) and the defendant (the person or entity defending themselves/itself against the claims of the plaintiff). In an appeal case the parties are referred to as appellant and respondent. If the hearing is before a tribunal the parties are called the applicant and the respondent.
Some citation methods might use 'at' and another number (e.g: 9) following the page number. This is known as a pinpoint reference. Following the Australian Guide to Legal Citation (AGLC), only a comma and page number is used (e.g: Mabo v Queensland (1992) 175 CLR 1, 9)
Why do some citations use square brackets and others round brackets?
Square brackets are used where the year is necessary for identification of the volume of a law report. The Victorian Reports, for example, start at volume one each year so you need to know the year and then the volume number within the year in order to locate a case. e.g: Abbott v Transport Accident Commission  2 VR 116.
Round brackets are used when the reference to the year is not necessary to identify the volume or report. The Australian Law Reports are numbered consecutively, so you only need to know the volume number. e.g: Mills v Meeking (1990) 91 ALR 16.
Many courts have introduced medium neutral citations. This is so that unreported judgments made available online can be cited in the same way as paper copies. This avoids confusion if page numbering differs over publication formats. The components of a medium neutral citation are :
Australian Broadcasting Corporation v Lenah Game Meats Pty Ltd  HCA 63 (Unreported, Gleeson CJ, Gaudron, Gummow, Kirby, Hayne and Callinan JJ, 15 November 2001).
Note that the number following the court abbreviation is not a page number - it indicates that this is the 63rd High Court judgment for 2001
Examples of Court Abbreviations include:
To refer to a particular section of an unreported judgment, use the paragraph number. These numbers are listed at the side of unreported judgments and ensure that the case is cited consistently no matter where the judgment has been sourced. Paragraph numbers are cited in square brackets.
Citations to unreported judgments which are not available electronically, or where the court has not adopted medium neutral citation, include the following elements:
For example: Zaika v Zaika (Unreported, Supreme Court of New South Wales, Holland, J, No132/76, 5 February 1979).
There are two types of law reports : authorised and unauthorised.
Authorised reports are edited and checked by the judge before publication. Australian authorised reports include:
Always use the authorised report of a case if available.
Unauthorised series of law reports tend to be published more quickly as they are the first version of the judgment released by the court. They also tend to be subject based e.g. Australian Corporations and Securities Reports (ACSR), the Australian Trade Practices Reports (ATPR) and the Administrative Law Decisions (ALD).
There are two main types of case law :
Reported judgments are published in law reports. Some law report series publish judgments from a particular court (eg the Commonwealth Law Reports contain only judgments of the High Court of Australia). Others collect judgments in specific areas of law (eg the Australian Corporations and Securities Reports on corporations law). Cases may be reported in more than one law report series. Where this occurs the alternative citations are called parallel citations.
Unreported judgments may be too recent to have been published in a law report or not important enough to be published. Many Australian unreported judgments are readily available via free Internet sites. Reported cases are more authoritative than unreported cases. If a case is available in a reported and unreported format, use the reported version.
For example the 2001 Commonwealth v Yarmirr case has been available on the Internet as an unreported decision since it was handed down by the High Court. The unreported citation is The Commonwealth v Yarmirr; Yarmirr v Northern Territory  HCA 56 (Unreported, Gleeson CJ, Gaudron, McHugh, Gummow, Kirby, Hayne and Callinan JJ, 11 October 2001). This case has also since been reported in the Commonwealth Law Reports (CLRs). The CLR (or reported) citation is the Commonwealth of Australia v Yarmirr (2001) 208 CLR 1. This is the correct citation to use when referring to this case.
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