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Precedence of United Kingdom Law Reports

Hierarchy of law reports

There are several situations in which a solicitor or a law professional must determine the order of precedence for two or more case reports.

The 2012 Practice Direction on the Citation of Authorities ([2012] 1 WLR 780) requires solicitors to cite the most authoritative version of law report available.

Many lawyers, following those requirements and some database practices, find that data vendors may sort the list of parallel citations first by court, then by official judgment and then by precedence of report series. The most authoritative report of the judgment of each court in the case’s appellate history may be listed underneath the Court assigned Neutral Citation, thereby making the task of determining which report must be cited in court a trivial process.

The order of report precedence may, for example, be as follows:

  1. Official Judgment (Neutral Citation). The neutral citation may be used for linking to BAILII, Justis and to any other transcript services. A neutral citation should be constant across all other reports.
  2. The Law Reports (1st Series)
  3. The Weekly Law Reports
  4. The All England Law Reports
  5. Specialist Series (Family Law Reports, Family Court Reports, Wills and Trusts Law Reports, etc). In the UK, series published by the ICLR will be considered most authoritative.
  6. Times Law Reports
  7. WLR Digest (Daily Cases)
  8. Other Digests


The Oxford University Standard for Citation of Legal Authorities OSCOLA is designed to facilitate accurate citation of authorities, legislation, and other legal materials. It is widely used in law schools and by journal and book publishers in the UK and beyond. OSCOLA is edited by the Oxford Law Faculty.

A free PDF version may be downloaded: OSCOLA (4th edn, Hart 2012)

Further Reading

Practice Direction (Citation of Authorities) [2012] 1 WLR 780

The Oxford University Standard for Citation of Legal Authorities (OSCOLA):

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  • Article Name: Precedence of UK Law Reports
  • Author: International
  • Description: Precedence of United Kingdom Law Reports Hierarchy of law reports There are several situations in which a solicitor or a [...]

This entry was last updated: March 19, 2013


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