There are two golden rules for the citation of legal authorities One is consistency e other is consideration for the reader Legal writing is more persuasive when the author refers to legal materials in a clear, consistent and familiar way When it is easy to identify and to nd the author’s sources, it becomes easier for the reader to follow the argument e Oxford University Standard for Citation of Legal Authorities (OSCOLA) is designed to help the author to achieve consistency and to make life easier for the reader.
OSCOLA does not purport to be comprehensive, but gives rules and examples for the main UK legal primary sources, and for many types of secondary sources As far as possible, the guidelines in OSCOLA are based on common practice in UK legal citation, but with a minimum of punctuation When citing materials not mentioned in OSCOLA, use the general principles in OSCOLA as a guide, and try to maintain consistency.
OSCOLA is a guide to legal citation, not a style guide For advice on punctuation, grammar and writing style, use the most recent editions of Fowler’s Modern English Usage, e Oxford English Dictionary, and Hart’s Rules Hart’s Rules is particularly useful for information about typographical conventions, but note that the legal citation section is not always consistent with OSCOLA.
OSCOLA was rst devised by Peter Birks in 2000, in consultation with law students and faculty at Oxford University, and with Oxford University Press and Hart Publishing It is used by the Oxford University Commonwealth Law Journal, and the editors of that journal have also played an important role in its development Subsequent editions of OSCOLA were produced in 2002 (by Professor Birks) and in 2004 (revised 2006, both by Timothy Endicott and Sandra Meredith) is latest revision of OSCOLA provides more detailed coverage of domestic legal sources, and in particular the treatment of Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish sources has been considerably expanded.
Although originally designed for use within Oxford University, OSCOLA is now used by law schools throughout the UK and overseas, and by a number of legal journals and publishers In recognition of the wider usage of OSCOLA, an editorial advisory board was established in advance of this revision We are grateful to the members of the advisory board (Ruth Bird, Naomi Chapman, Peter Clinch, Timothy Endicott, Richard Hart, Barbara Lauriat, John Louth and Tracey Varnava) for their invaluable assistance Peter Clinch, in particular, was very helpful Others to whom we are grateful for their advice on aspects of this revision are Paul Brand, Mike Macnair, Gareth Ryan, Adrian Zuckerman, and those users of OSCOLA who wrote to us with comments during the revision Any errors and omissions remain entirely our responsibility Finally, we would like to thank Hart Publishing for their generous help with the design.
We are also grateful to Hart Publishing for agreeing to publish OSCOLA while allowing us to continue to make the online version available free of charge from the OSCOLA website We hope that users of OSCOLA will nd the published version to be a useful resource Some small changes were made when preparing OSCOLA for publication, and an index was added, but the current online version and the published version are the same.
We hope that the revised standard shows the consideration for authors and readers that motivated Professor Birks to devise a uniform standard for the citation of legal authorities.
Sandra Meredith and Donal Nolan