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Law - Legal Citation Guide

Guide to help with legal citation for the most common situations.

Statutes

General Form
Title
, statute source designation | year (session), chapter (supplement), pinpoint if relevant.

 

Federal examples

Animal Pedigree Act, RSC 1985, c 8 (4th Supp), s 3.

This act is published in chapter 8 of the 4th Supplement of the 1985 Revised Statutes of Canada, and we are referring the reader to section 3.

Safe Streets and Communities Act, SC 2012, c 1.

For acts passed after the latest revised statutes, cite to the relevant annual volume. This act is published as chapter 1 in the 2012 Statutes of Canada.

 

British Columbia examples

Sale of Goods Act, RSBC 1996, c 410, ss 33-37.

This act is published as chapter 410 in the 1996 Revised Statutes of British Columbia, and we are referring the reader to sections 33 though 37.

Wildfire Act, SBC 2004, c 31.

For acts passed after the latest revised statutes, cite to the relevant annual volume. This act is published in chapter 31 of the 2004 Statutes of British Columbia.

 

Title

Use the official short title of the statute. If no short title is provided, use the full title found at the beginning of the statute. 

Follow the capitalization of words in the title that you find in the statute.

Some statutes include a year in the title.  Treat the year as part of the title (e.g., Budget Implementation Act, 2009).

 

Statute Source

Statutes are generally published in annual (formerly, sessional) statute volumes (S) and then revised statute volumes (RS). Use these same abbreviations (S and RS) for online versions of the statutes. 

Follow the volume designation with the jurisdiction abbreviation (see McGill Guide, Appendix A-1 for a complete list).

Examples:
SBC – Statutes of British Columbia
RSBC – Revised Statutes of British Columbia
SC – Statutes of Canada
RSC – Revised Statutes of Canada

Manitoba, Quebec and Nova Scotia publish an official loose-leaf version of their statutes (use, respectively, CCSM, RSQ, and RSNS).

 

Year, Session, Supplement, Chapter

Chapter is abbreviated with a lower case “c”

Examples:

  • Annual volume:
    Budget Implementation Act, 2009
    , SC 2009, c 2.
    Note that the first 2009 is part of the title of the act; the second 2009 indicates that the act can be found in the 2009 volume of the Statutes of Canada.
  • Sessional volume:
    Broadcasting Act
    , SC 1967-68, c 25.
    Older statutes were not published annually; they were published at the end of each parliamentary session. This act was passed in the session of parliament that spanned 1967 and 1968.
  • More than one session in a year:
    Human Rights Code of British Columbia Act
    , SBC 1973 (2d Sess), c 119.
    In some years there is more than one session of the legislature and the statutes from the sessions are published in different volumes.
  • Supplement:
    National Transportation Act, 1987
    , RSC 1985, c 28 (3d Supp).
    Often there are supplemental volumes published when statutes are revised. This act can be found in the third supplement of the 1985 Revised Statutes of Canada.


Pinpoint

If you wish to refer to a particular section or part of a statute, you will need to let the reader know where to find it. 

Examples:
National Transportation Act, 1987
, RSC 1985, c 28 (3d Supp), s 2.
National Transportation Act, 1987
, RSC 1985, c 28 (3d Supp), ss 4, 6-22.
National Transportation Act, 1987
, RSC 1985, c 28 (3d Supp), Part VII.

Constitutional Statutes

Use the current titles of constitutional statutes, unless you are referring to an historical version of the statute. If a constitutional statute was enacted in another jurisdiction such as the Canada Act 1982, use the citation form of the relevant jurisdiction (e.g., the United Kingdom). Some constitutional statutes are parts of other statutes and some are reprinted in modern statutes. Below are examples of some commonly cited constitutional statutes.

Examples:

Constitution Act, 1867 (UK), 30 & 31 Vict, c 3, reprinted in RSC 1985, App II, No 5.

Canada Act 1982 (UK), c 11.

Constitution Act, 1982, being Schedule B to the Canada Act 1982 (UK), c 11.

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Part 1 of the Constitution Act, 1982, being Schedule B to the Canada Act 1982 (UK), c 11.

Constitution Act, RSBC 1996, c 66.

 

Bills

General Form

Canada:
Number, long title, session, legislature, year, pinpoint (additional information if relevant).

Provinces & Territories:
Number, long title, session, legislature, jurisdiction, year, pinpoint (additional information if relevant).

 

Note:

  • Use the long form of the title, even if a short title is provided.
  • Include pinpoint information only if relevant.  A specific provision is known as clause (cl), not a section as used in a statute.  Use cls for clauses.

 

Examples

Bill C-38, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 29, 2012 and other measures, 1st Sess, 41st Parl, 2012, cl 52 (as passed by the House of Commons 18 June 2012).

Bill 22, Family Law Statutes Amendment Act, 2010, 3rd Sess, 27th Leg, Alberta, 2010.

Bill 53, Family Day Act, 4th Sess, 39th Parl, British Columbia, 2012 (assented to 31 May 2012), SBC 2012, c 24. 

Regulations

Federal

Federal regulations have been revised just once, in 1978, in a set of books called Consolidated Regulations of Canada (CRC).

General Form for the Consolidated Regulations of Canada

 Title, CRC, chapter, pinpoint (year)-optional

Examples for the Consolidated Regulations of Canada

 All of the following examples are acceptable.  Only use a pinpoint reference if you are referring to specific section(s).

National Parks of Canada Fishing Regulations, CRC, c 1120, s 10 (1978).
National Parks of Canada Fishing Regulations
, CRC, c 1120, s 10.
National Parks of Canada Fishing Regulations
, CRC, c 1120.

Federal regulations not found in the Consolidated Regulations of Canada are published in Part II of the Canada Gazette.  These regulations are given an SOR number.  SOR stands for Statutory Orders and Regulations.  For dates from the year 2000 onwards, use all four digits (e.g., 2012); for earlier years, use the last two digits (e.g., use 99 for the year 1999).

General Form for Regulations Published in the Canada Gazette, Part II

 Title (optional), SOR/year-regulation number, pinpoint (if relevant).

Examples for Regulations Published in the Canada Gazette, Part II

SOR/86-438.
Safe Containers Convention Regulations
, SOR/82-1038.
Rules of the Supreme Court of Canada
, SOR/2002-156.
Rules of the Supreme Court of Canada
, SOR/2002-156, ss 35-43.


Provincial

General Form

Title (optional), Jurisdiction Reg number/year, pinpoint (if relevant).

Examples

BC Reg 10/2011.
Jury Regulation
, BC Reg 282/95.
School Regulation
, BC Reg 387/2007, s 4.