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The Coventry University Guide to Referencing in Harvard Style: Legal Documents

How to reference legal documents

General guidance on referencing legal documents


N.B. For courses run by Coventry Law School, you may be required to use another referencing system (e.g. OSCOLA). Please ask your lecturer for further guidance.

If you incorporate information from legal documents into your text, you must provide both an in-text citation and matching entry in your end List of References. These two components are referenced differently for different types of legal documents. Click on the relevant tab above to see examples.

An Act of Parliament


In-text citation

 

Examples

By law, individuals may be detained for their own protection (Mental Health Act 1983, s.3).
Section 3 of the Mental Health Act 1983 allows individuals to be detained for their own protection.

Components

  • Short title of the Act.
  • Year.
  • Sections (e.g. section, sub-section, paragraph), if applicable.

Note: For integral in-text citations (e.g. second example), the year of publication does not have to be placed within brackets, which is an exception to the usual rules. 


List of References entry

 

Examples

Mental Capacity Act (2005, c.9) London: The Stationery Office
Mental Health Act (1983, c.1) London: The Stationery Office

Components

  • Short title of the Act.
  • Year and chapter number in brackets.
  • Place of publication.
  • Publisher.

Law reports or cases


In-text citation
 

Example

This provision is illustrated by Bolam v Friern Hospital Management Committee (1957: 584).

Components

When referring to the case for the first time:

  • Party names in italics. 
  • Year.
  • Page number(s), if appropriate

When referring to the case subsequently:

  • First party name only, e.g. 'the Bolam case'.

When providing a direct quote:

  • The page number must be included. 

List of References entry
 

Examples

Bolam v Friern Hospital Management Committee [1957] 1 W.L.R. 582
Gillick v West Norfolk and Wisbech AHA (1985) 82 L.S.G. 3531

Components

  • Party names in italics.
  • Year in brackets. 
  • The brackets around the year are usually square brackets, but may also be round brackets. Check the law report for which kind of brackets are used.
  • Volume number, if given.
  • The 'accepted' abbreviation for the law report.
  • First page of the report. 

A House of Commons/Lords report


In-text citation

 

Example

Another important report (HL paper (2003-4) 123) addresses the issue of alternative medicine (HL 2005).

Components

Cite the report:

  • Write 'HC paper' or 'HL paper'.
  • The Parliamentary Session in brackets.
  • The volume number.

Cite the source:

  • An in-text citation within brackets with 'HC' for House of Commons or 'HL' for House of Lords
  • The year and page(s), if appropriate.

List of References entry

 

Example

House of Lords (2005) Great Britain Parliament Select Committee on Science and Technology. Complementary and Alternative Medicine 6th report of the Select Committee on Science and Technology. London: Stationery Office. (HL paper; 123; Session 2003-4)

Components

  • Originator (i.e. company or designer), followed by a full stop.
  • Year the patent was granted in brackets.
  • Title of publication in italics, followed by a full stop.
  • Series designation.

Reports of parliamentary debates


In-text citation
 

Example 1 (Hansard official report of a parliamentary debate)

Pattern hounded the Prime Minister (HC Deb. (2000-1) 203, col. 346) over international debt (HC 2001: 42).

 

Components

Within your text:

  • The words 'HC Deb.' or 'HL Deb.'
  • Dates of the Parliamentary Session in brackets
  • Volume number, followed by a comma.
  • The abbreviation 'col' (i.e. short for column), followed by a full stop.
  • Column number.

In-text citation:

  • 'HC' or 'HL' (i.e. for House of Commons or House of Lords, respectively).
  • Year.

If you are referring to a particular point in the report:

  • A colon.
  • The page number(s) for the information to which you are referring.

Example 2 (An official report of a parliamentary debate in a standing committee)

The MPs had a heated debate (Securities Bill Debate (2004-5)10, col.71) over securities (Standing Committee 2004).

 

Components

Within your text:

  • Complete title of the debate in italics.
  • Dates of the Parliamentary Session in brackets.
  • Volume number, followed by a column.
  • The abbreviation 'col' (i.e. short for column), followed by a full stop. 
  • Column number.

In text citation:

  • The words 'Standing Committee'.
  • Year.

If you are referring to a particular point in the report:

  • A colon.
  • The page number(s) for the information to which you are referring.

List of References entry
 

Example

Standing Committee (2004) Securities Bill Debate. (2004-5) 10, col. 71

Components

  • The words 'Standing Committee'.
  • Year in brackets.
  • Complete title of the debate in italics, followed by a full stop. 
  • Date of the Parliamentary Session in brackets.
  • Volume number, followed by a column.
  • The abbreviation 'col' (i.e. short for column), followed by a full stop. 
  • Column number. 

A Government Bill


In-text citation

Example

In 2005, the House of Commons passed a new bill (HC Bill (2005) [124])  that replaced previous provisions for children in local authority care (HC 2005: 56).

Components

Within your text:

  • The words 'HC Bill' or 'HL Bill'.
  • Year of the Parliamentary Session in brackets.
  • Bill serial number in square brackets. (Note: Every time a bill passes through Parliament, it is re-numbered). 

In-text citation:

  • 'HC' or 'HL' (i.e. for House of Commons or House of Lords, respectively).
  • Year.

If you are referring to a particular point in the bill:

  • A colon.
  • The page number(s) for the information to which you are referring.

List of References entry

Example

House of Commons (2005) Great Britain Parliament. Children (leaving care): A Bill to make provision about children and young persons who are being, or have been looked after by a local authority; to replace section 24 of the Children Act 1989; and for connected purposes. London: Stationery Office (Bill: Great Britain. Parliament. House of Commons; 124)

Components

  • House, i.e. 'House of Commons' or 'House of Lords'.
  • Year.
  • The words 'Great Britain Parliament', followed by a full stop.
  • Complete title of the bill in italics, followed by a full stop.
  • Place of publication, followed by a colon.
  • Publisher.
  • Full details of the bill (see above) and number if appropriate, in brackets. 

A government green or white paper


In-text citation
 

Examples

According to the Department of Health (1998), Britain had the opportunity to become a 'healthier nation'.
In 1998, a Government green paper was proposed to help Britain become a 'healthier nation' (Department of Health 1998).

Components

  • Government department
  • Year of publication.

If you are referring to a particular point in the paper:

  • A colon.
  • The page number(s) for the information to which you are referring.

List of References entry
 

Example

Department of Health (1998) Our Healthier Nation: A Contract for Health [green paper] London: Stationery Office (Cm 3854)

Components

  • Government department.
  • Year of publication.
  • Complete title of the paper in italics.
  • Type of paper, i.e. 'green paper' or 'white paper', in square brackets.
  • Place of publication, followed by a colon.
  • Publisher.
  • Paper number in brackets. 

European Union legislation


In-text citation
 

Example

Recently, the European Union has issued a regulation regarding the conversion rate to the euro in Latvia (Council Regulation (EU) 870 2013).

Components

  • Open bracket.
  • Name of the document in italics.
  • The document number in italics.
  • Date in italics.
  • Close bracket.

List of References entry
 

Example

Council Regulation (EU) No 870 (2013) of 9 July 2013 amending Regulation (EC) No 2866/98 as regards the conversion rate to the euro for Latvia. [online] available from < http://eur- lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2013:243:0001:0001:EN:PDF> [26 September 2013]

Components

  • Full title of the document in italics.
  • Note: The title will include the year and the name of the legislation, in keeping with EU conventions. 
  • Full stop.
  • The word 'online' in square brackets.
  • The words 'available from'. 
  • Full URL within chevrons, i.e. < >.
  • Date you accessed the legislation, in square brackets. (See date format in example above).

Statutory instruments


In-text citation
 

Example

In this case, the intervention team closely followed the procedures outlined in the National Emergency Regulations (2002).
In this case, the intervention team closely followed the relevant procedures (National Emergency Regulations 2002).

Components

  • Title of the statutory instrument.
  • Year. 


List of References entry
 

Example

National Emergency Regulations (2002) SI 2002/4651. London: HMSO

Components

  • Title in italics.
  • Year in brackets.
  • The acronym 'SI'.
  • Statutory instrument number, followed by a full stop. 
  • Place of publication, followed by a colon.
  • Publisher. 
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