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About Oscola Referencing Style

A Brief Guide to OSCOLA Referencing Style

Students pursuing legal studies are assigned many projects by their professors, such as assignments, theses, dissertations, and case studies. To write these documents, they need to take reference from various published sources, such as books and magazines. When it comes to producing a legal write-up, one should cite the materials in a clear, consistent and familiar way. Referencing the sources properly not just makes it more reader-friendly but also guards from plagiarism issue.

The Oxford University Standard for Citation of Legal Authorities (OSCOLA) is considered the best way for citing legal materials. Originally devised for use within Oxford University, it is now prescribed by many law schools across the world. Here we have given a comprehensive guide for using this referencing style:

Tips for General Use of OSCOLA

  • 1.OSCOLA specifies the minimum use of punctuation. You should not use the full stop in abbreviations. For example- write UNCL instead of U.N.C.L.
  • 2.Footnotes should always be closed with a full stop. But when more than one citation is given in a single footnote, separate them with semicolons.
  • 3.When citing a book using footnotes, write the author’s first name or initials, precedes by the surname. But in bibliographies, the surname should come first, followed by the initials.
  • 4.Titles of books and publishing company should be italicized. And, all other titles should be written within single quotation marks. While writing the title, capitalize the first letter of all words.
  • 5.If you source a publication online which is also available in hard copy, cite the hard copy version. But books or journals which are only available online should end with the web address in angled brackets < > followed by the date when you accessed it last time.
  • 6.Colons are used to separate a title from a subtitle
  • 7.Case names should be written in italics and in lower case (other than titles). If you are citing a case, the date should be in round or square brackets according to the style of the law report series.
  • 8.Acts should be cited by their short title, using capitals for the major words.
  • 9.Statutes are divided into many parts which include sections, subsections, paragraphs, and sub-paragraphs. Use the full form of the part/section at the beginning of a sentence without repeating the name of the Act.
  • 10.A Bill should be cited by its title, the parliamentary house from which it was passed, and the legislative session.
How to cite primary and secondary legal material?

As per OSCOLA 4th edition, there are two types of legal sources-primary sources and secondary sources. A statement of law itself from a governmental entity, such as a court, executive agency, or legislature comes under primary legal sources. Materials that discuss, explain, interpret, and analyze what the law is or what it should be, including treatises, law reviews, encyclopedias, ALR annotations, restatements, and legal newspapers are secondary legal sources. Here we have discussed the rules for citing these sources:

1. Books

To cite a book write the author(s) name, followed by the title of the book in Italics, and write the series title, edition, publisher, date of publication in brackets. Plus, capitalize all of the major words in the title. And, mention the edition number only if there are more than two editions of the book.

For Example

Jonathan Herring, Criminal Law (7th edn, Macmillian 2011) 251

Hugh Jones and Christopher Benson, Publishing Law (4th edn, Routledge 2011)

Roy Goode and others, Transnational Commercial Law: International Instruments and Commentary (OUP 2004)

2. Journals

To cite a journal article, mention the author’s name, followed by the title within single quotation marks. And write the date of publication, volume, journal name or abbreviation within brackets. Use round brackets when the volume of the journal series are independently numbered. However, if there is no volume number, use square brackets for writing the date. Plus, capitalize all the major words in the title.

For Example

Mary George, ‘Fisheries Protections in the Context of the Geo-Political Tensions in the South China Sea’ (2012) 43 Journal of Maritime Law and Practice 85

Jeremy Waldron, ‘The Core of the Case against Judicial Review’ (2006) 115 Yale LJ 1346, 1372

James Goodwin, ‘The Last Defence of Wednesbury’ [2012] PL 445

3. Online Articles

As mentioned before, if both the online source and paper copy are available, cite the paper copy version.

While citing an online article, use the same format used in referencing a published journal but follow the citation with the web address and the date when you most recently accessed the article.

For Example

James Gobert, ‘The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007: Thirteen Years in the Making but was it Worth the Wait?’ (2008) 71 MRL 413

<http://www.jstor.org/stable/25151209> accessed 15 Jan 2014

Tools for creating MLA Book references:

4. Cases, Legislation, and Reports

When citing a law report, it is crucial to mention the law report’s volume within square brackets. Give the volume number only when there was more than one volume published during that year. And, when the volumes of the law report series are independently numbered, mention the year of judgment in round brackets.

Cases with a neutral citation
For Example

Corr v IBC Vehicles Ltd [2008] UKHL 13, [2008] 1 AC 884

Cases without a neutral citation
For Example

Chapman v Honig [1963] 2 QB 502 (CA)

UCB Bank plc v Chandler (1999) 79 P & CR 270 (CA)

5. Statutes and statutory instruments

To cite a statute, give the short title followed by year. And, to cite a section of a statute give the short title followed by year. Then write | s |, followed by section number, subsection, and paragraph.

For Example

The act of Supremacy 1558

Human Rights Act 1998, s 15(1)(b)

For Example

Crown Debts Act 1801 (41 Geo 3 c 90)

6. Bills

To cite a Bill, give the title, followed by HC Bill, session in round brackets, and number in square brackets. If the Bill originates in the House of Commons, then put the running number in square brackets. In case, it is from the House of Lords, do not put any brackets around the number. When referring to parts of Bills, the words ‘clause’ and ‘clauses’ should be abbreviated to ‘cl’ and ‘cls.’

For Example

Consolidated Fund HC Bill (2008-09) [5]

Academies HL Bill (2010-11) cl 8(2)

7. Government Publications

Documents like command papers, government responses to select committee reports, White and green papers, and all such legal journals that were issued by a government organization and then made available to the public comes under official publications.

For publications by individual government departments you should follow this pattern:

The name of department or committee who produced the report, | title of paper in italics |(command paper number, | year) | page or paragraph number.

For Example

Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Deregulation, 3rd Report [Session 1998-99] HL Paper (1998-99) no 12 Home Office, Report of the Royal Commission on Capital Punishment (Cmd 8932, 1953) para 53

8. Newspaper Articles

To cite a newspaper article, write the author’s name followed by ‘title within single quotation marks’, the name of the newspaper in italics, city of publication and date of publication within round brackets. Plus, write the page number on which the article was published, if known.

For Example
Jane Croft, ‘Supreme Court Warns on Quality’ Financial Times (London, 1 July 2010) 3 Sarah Knapton, ‘Bad Owners to blame for Aggressive Animals, not their Breed’ The Daily Telegraph (3 Dec. 2013)
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