OSCOLA Referencing Guide

A Guide to OSCOLA Referencing Citations

Referencing refers to the mentioning of the sources you consulted while writing your document. You must acknowledge the source within the text and footnotes, and give complete detail of each item consulted in the bibliography.

OSCOLA is most commonly used referencing style for citing primary as well as secondary legal material. This style is used by many legal journals and publishers.

Why is referencing necessary?

Referencing is an important part of academic research and writing. Some of the key reasons stating its importance are as follows:

To avoid plagiarism. Plagiarism is often considered punishable offense by many universities. So, using proper citation and referencing you can avoid it.

To provide the reader with details that could help to locate the original documents used in your research.

To enable the examiner to check your sources and make sure that your information is correct.

To demonstrate to the examiner that you have done credible research.

1. Citing primary sources

Primary sources are specifically legal sources, such as cases and legislative documents.

Citation of cases

Two types of citation are explained below:

Neutral Citation

When citing a case with a neutral citation, the information in the footnote should include:


CaseName|[Year]|Court|Number,|[Year]|Volume|Report Abbreviation|First Page

For example:

PI vs Walls [2008] UKHL 15, [2008] 4 AC 1284

No Neutral Citation:

Cases before 2001 will not include a neutral citation, so footnotes will be in the following format:


CaseName|[Year]|Volume|ReportAbbreviation|FirstPage| (Court)

For example:

GM vs Nissan [1983] 1 AC 154 (UKHL)

Note:It’s only necessary to include the case name in the footnote when it is not named in the text. Moreover, the number of the neutral citation is separated from the law report citation by a comma.

Tools for creating OSCOLA Book references:

Citation of legislation

When citing a legislative act, all you need in the footnote is the short title and year:

Act of Supremacy 1558

Moreover, to pinpoint reference of a particular part or section, you need to include an abbreviation of the type of the source after the year:

Human Rights Act 1998 s 7

The correct abbreviation for pinpointing depends on what you’re pinpointing to:

  • pt/pts for part/parts
  • s/ss for section/sections
  • sub-s/sub-ss for subsection/subsections
  • para/paras for paragraph/paragraphs
  • subpara/subparas for subparagraph/subparagraphs
  • sch/schs for schedule/schedules

Also, for a statutory instrument, you need to include the title, year and, after a comma, the SI number.

2. Citing secondary sources

Secondary sources include books, journal articles, websites and other such documents.

Citation of books

While citing a book, you need to follow the following format:


author(s), | title of book | (series title, | edition, |publisher | date of publication) | page

For example:

Gareth Jones, Goff and Jones: The Law of Restitution (1st supp, 7th edn, Sweet & Maxwell 2009)

Citation of online journal article

When you have to cite online articles use the following format:


author, | ‘title within single quotation marks’ | (date of publication) | volume | journservicesal name or abbreviation | first page of article recent accessed date

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 <> accessed 15 Jan 2014

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