Citing and referencing: Legal sources

A guide to the styles recommended by Monash schools and departments for students and researchers

Legal sources

Legal sources

The Style Manual has extensive information on citing and referencing different legal sources. The information below is a summary, however, please consult the Style Manual for full details. The Style Manual states that reference list entries are not always required when citing legislation and legal cases, and also recommends using a separate reference list for legal materials if you do need to include these in your reference list.  Check with your unit coordinator or supervisor if you are unsure of the conventions in your discipline. 

Legal sources have the same format for both in-text citations and reference list entries, and the format varies depending on the type of legal material.

 

Bills

A bill is a draft act introduced into parliament. Bills have a short title, which includes the year, and a long title which is a description.  Use the short title for the in-text citation and reference list entry. Use roman type instead of italics, and use title case (maximum capitalisation) rather than sentence case.

Example: Refugee Protection Bill 2019

 

Acts

Australian Acts

Bills become Acts when the Governor-General gives assent to the bills after the Senate and House of Representatives agree on their content. Use the short title for the in-text citation and reference list entry, and use title case (maximum capitalisation) rather than sentence case. 

It is important to identify the jurisdiction for the act (e.g. Commonwealth versus state or territory).  There are two ways to do this: 

  • Identify the jurisdiction within the text, for example, The Tasmanian Local Government Act 1993 gave councils greater autonomy to act independently of the state government.
  • The first time you cite the act (and in the reference list if you include one), include a shortened form of the jurisdiction after the title, in parentheses without italics. For example Water Act 2007 (Cth), Water Management Act 2000 (NSW). The Style Manual includes the correct form of the jurisdictions for each state and territory.

 

The first time you cite an act in your text, use italics for the short title, including the year.  If you refer to the act again in your text, use the short title in roman type without the year. If you include the act in your reference list, use roman type.

Example: … was convicted of federal offences under the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth). The Crimes Act specifies …

Another option is to use the informal title of the act (if one exists) when referring to the same act multiple times in the text.  To do this, include the informal title in parentheses after the title the first time you cite the act, and then use the informal title for subsequent citations.

Example: … in the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (Cth) (PGPA Act) … Section 10 of the PGPA Act defines a Commonwealth entity as …

 
Acts from other countries

Use roman type (without italics) for acts from other countries, followed by an abbreviation for the country in parentheses.

Examples: 

Digital Economy Act 2017 (UK)

Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (US)

 

Cases

A case is a matter to be settled at law. It is also an instance of the process of making a claim in a law court. 

The people or organisations named in the case are known as ‘parties’. Capitalise the names of the parties but use a lower case ‘v’ between the party names. There is no full stop after ‘v’.

Case names have this basic form: Party v Party.

Example: Commonwealth v Tasmania

Write the name of the case in italics in your in-text citations.  If you include cases in your reference list, write them in roman type. If the case has an abbreviated title, include this title in parentheses after the case name the first time you cite it, and then use the abbreviated title in subsequent citations.

Example: … The State of New South Wales v The Commonwealth (Wheat Case). The Wheat Case ... 

Please note: The Style Manual has extensive advice in regards to including more details when citing cases, including the year of the decision and where the report is published.  If you need to include this level of detail when citing and referencing cases, please refer to the Cases section of the Style Manual.

 

Treaties

A treaty is an international agreement that is binding under international law. Treaties include conventions, international agreements, covenants, an exchange of letters, international instruments, charters, or protocols. Write titles of treaties in roman type with title case (maximum capitalisation). If the treaty has an abbreviated title, include this title in parentheses after the title the first time you cite it, and then use the abbreviated title in subsequent citations. The year the treaty is made does not form part of the title. If you include it, write it into the sentence or add it in parentheses after the short title.

Example: International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) (1966)

 

Use of separate reference lists for legislation and legal cases:

The Style Manual states that as a general rule, you only need to include in-text citations for legal sources.  However, you may need to include your legal sources in a reference list under some circumstances. If so, the Style Manual states to include legal sources as a separate reference list and to separate legislation (bills, acts, and treaties) from legal cases. List the entries in alphabetical order in each list.

Example:

Legislation

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Act 2005 (Cth)

Children Youth and Families Amendment Bill 2013 (Vic)

Digital Economy Act 2017 (UK)

 

Legal cases

Dutton v Republic of South Africa [1999] FCA 2

Victorian Railways Commissioners v Brown (1906) 3 CLR 1132