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LISC Recommended Standard for Medium Neutral Citation

LISC Recommended Standard for Medium Neutral Citation

A. Court Designators and B. Pinpoint Citations

Status of this document

This is a recommendation by the Legal Information Standards Council (LISC). It is for circulation to Courts and interested people for consideration and comment.

Responses to these recommendations

Comment on these recommendation are invited, and should be sent to:

Legal Information Standards Council
c/- Law & Justice Foundation of NSW

GPO Box 4264
Sydney NSW 2001
DX 984 Sydney

Web: <>
Fax: 02 9262 1660.


A.Court Designators
The Standard Court DesignatorParas5-7
TheGeographic AbbreviationParas8-12
TheCourt or Tribunal AbbreviationParas13-15
B.Pinpoint Citations
The Standard Pinpoint CitationParas29-31

A. Court Designators


1. With the introduction of medium neutral citations (eg. the High Court of Australia's use of the designator "HCA"), LISC recommends that Australian courts adopt a common set of court designators for their judgments.

2. The objective is to provide a consistent and universally accessible descriptor for users of judgments within and outside Australia.

3. Universal designators are particularly important as judgments become widely available in electronic form and from different sources.

4. Consistent use of court designators will simplify the identification and location of judgments by the profession and the public.

The Standard Court Designator

5. The two component parts of the Standard Court Designator are:

  • the geographic abbreviation and
  • the court/tribunal abbreviation

6. Each State and Territory Court and Tribunal is identified by a standard designator in the following form:

{geographic abbreviation} followed by {court/tribunal abbreviation}


If necessary (principally in a Supreme Court), a further {court/tribunal abbreviation} is added


7. Each Federal Court and Tribunal is identified by a standard designator in the following form:

{court/tribunal abbreviation} followed by {the letter 'A'} Example: HCA; IRTA

The Geographic Abbreviation

8. The geographic abbreviations currently in use by State Courts are:


9. To ensure consistency, LISC endorses the use of these abbreviations.

10. At the same time, LISC advocates that the use of the familiar acronyms QLD and VIC rather than Q and V would ensure recognisability and minimise ambiguity. This will assist with the fast and consistent retrieval of judgments across the full range of international jurisdictions.

11. Using only one letter will cause confusion. Overseas users of the material may not know that V means Victoria; search engines will return irrelevant results from overseas jurisdictions because they will seek one letter rather than a more distinctive group of letters.

12. LISC recommends that the letter 'A' be used for Federal jurisdictions. This is consistent with the established practice of the High Court of Australia: 'HCA'.

The Court or Tribunal Abbreviation

13. LISC recommends that standard abbreviations for courts and tribunals should be used.

14. LISC recommends that decisions of Courts of Appeal and Full Courts should be distinguished from other decisions of state Supreme Courts by the addition of CA or FC to the Court abbreviation.

15. LISC suggests that the commonly accepted abbreviations are used.

Examples are:

CACourtof Appeal


16. Placing the geographic abbreviation first is already common practice, and is natural for users of the material, particularly court staff.

17. The converse is true only for the Federal jurisdictions.

18. In each case, the combination of abbreviations is only a designator for a court or tribunal; it does not necessarily reflect the official name of the court/tribunal.

Example: IRComnA = Australian Industrial Relations Commission


19. Examples for States and Territory Supreme Courts:

ACTSCSupreme Court of Australian Capital Territory
NSWSCSupreme Court of New South Wales
NTSCSupreme Court of the Northern Territory
QLDSCSupreme Court of Queensland
SASCSupremeCourt of South Australia
TASSCSupremeCourt of Tasmania
VICSCSupremeCourt of Victoria
WASCSupreme Court of Western Australia

20. Examples for Federal Courts:
HCAHigh Court of Australia
FCAFederal Court of Australia
FamCAFamily Court of Australia
IRComnAAustralian Industrial Relations Commission
IRCAIndustrial Relations Court of Australia
RRTARefugee Review Tribunal (of Australia)
IRTAImmigration Review Tribunal (of Australia)
AATAAdministrative Appeals Tribunal (of Australia)
NNTTANational Native Title Tribunal (of Australia)

21. Using NSW as an example, the standard can be applied as follows:
NSWSCCACourt of Appeal, Supreme Court of NSW
NSWSCCCACourt of Criminal Appeal, Supreme Court of NSW
NSWRTTResidential Tenancies Tribunal of NSW
NSWLECLand and Environmental Court of NSW
NSWCTCommercial Tribunal of NSW
NSWCCCompensation Court of NSW
NSWCSATCommunity Services Appeals Tribunal of NSW
NSWDDTDust Diseases Tribunal of NSW

B. Pinpoint Citations


22. This recommendation is for a consistent form of parallel citation using paragraph numbers in printed and electronic copies of judgments from Australian courts.

23. Citations to printed copies of judgments use page numbers for the judgment citation and for the identified location within a judgment (the "at" reference or 'pinpoint citation').

24. Page numbers are unsuitable in most cases for use in citations to judgments in electronic form.

25. Pinpoint citations to an electronic judgment must use another point of reference, such as the paragraph number of the judgment.

26. Paragraph numbers in judgments will provide a convenient reference point to passages in printed copies of judgments as well as in electronic copies. If paragraph numbers are applied by the Court at the time of publication of the judgment, it will provide a consistent reference point for citations in all versions of the judgment, regardless of publisher or publishing medium.

27. Paragraph numbers provide an additional method of citation along with page numbers which will continue to be useful for references to judgments in printed reports.

28. It is desirable that uniform methods should be adopted for the use of paragraph numbers in pinpoint citations.

The Standard Pinpoint Citation

29. The usual pinpoint citation to a page in a printed judgment is, for example:

Person v Company (1999) 152 ALR 34 at 52

This pinpoints page 52 in the volume.

30. The Standard pinpoint citation to a paragraph in an online judgement would be:

Person v Company [1998] HCA 25 at [27]

This pinpoints paragraph 27 in the judgment.

31. The Standard pinpoint citation to multiple paragraphs in an online judgement would be:

Person v Company [1998] HCA 25 at [20]-[25], [27], [29] and [31]

This pinpoints paragraphs 20-25, 27, 29 and 31 in the judgment.

32. The Standard pinpoint citation, which encompasses both the page and paragraph numbers, would be:

Person v Company (1998) 152 ALR 34 at 52 [27]

This pinpoints page 52 in the volume and paragraph 27 in the judgment.


33. The High Court of Australia, the first jurisdiction to use medium neutral citations, and therefore paragraph numbers, has adopted the LISC Recommended Standard pinpoint citation.

34. Some means of identifying a paragraph number is essential to avoid confusion. A plain, unqualified number will be assumed to be a page number.

35. Without some means of identifying that a number is a paragraph number, hybrid citations (see [32] above), which are becoming increasingly common and which are useful, will not be possible.

36. The use of square brackets reflects a practical and widely accepted indicator of a paragraph number. This cannot be said of other means of indicating a paragraph number.

37. Square brackets are efficient for typing, use of space and quick recognition. None is as true of use of the term 'para'.

38. Square brackets are available on a conventional keyboard, and will survive conversion from one electronic format to another. Neither is true of the alternative indicator of a paragraph number: '¶'.

39. Use of the word 'at' a second time, between the page number and the paragraph number is superfluous: the connection is implicit.

40. A print citation is sometimes more specific than a page number, referring to a section based on margin letters, eg

Person v Company (1999) 152 ALR 34 at 52E

41. Depending on the length of the paragraphs, paragraph numbers may be more or less useful than margin letter citations. They may be used together, as in the following example:

Person v Company (1999) 152 ALR 34 at 52E [27]

End Standard.

Secretariat, Legal Information Standards Council
Law & Justice Foundation of NSW
GPO Box 4264
Sydney NSW 2000, Australia

Fax: 61 2 9262 1660 - Ph: 61 2 9299 5621

Last updated: 10 April, 1999.