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General Rules of The Australian Guide to Legal Citation

23 Apr 2018

If you need to cite legal sources of information for your work, you should learn the standard rules of the well-known Australian Guide to Legal Citation. This is a set of certain rules that should be applied to citing both primary and secondary law sources. There are three editions of AGLC which are aimed at providing not only general rules but also helpful examples for citing legal sources in an appropriate way. Have a look at the guidelines on how to refer to the most frequently used legal sources. You are recommended to pay special attention to the referencing style that the Australian Guide to Legal Citation implies.

There are students who avoid citing when writing papers in law subjects because they don't know how to do this in the right way. If you underestimate the role of the right citation format, you risk getting a low score for your paper with the teacher's remark “The paper contains plagiarism.” It is possible to avoid such unpleasant situation by devoting little time to learning the citing format guidelines provided by the Australian Guide to Legal Citation.

How to Differentiate Between Primary and Secondary Sources of Information?

Before you get started with citing, you should learn how to differentiate between primary and secondary sources. This is a must step to take because these two groups of sources should be formatted taking into account their specifics. The category of primary sources includes such sources as legislation and common law. For example, you may use judgments that haven't been reported for your work. Cases and judgments fall into the category of primary sources.

One may refer descriptions of the primary sources to the category of secondary sources. For example, books, legal encyclopedias, articles in the journal, reports made by academics, etc. You should bear in mind that when composing a paper in most cases, you will have to refer to both categories of legal sources. That's why you should have a clear picture of the citing format differences which AGLC offers for the most commonly used sources.

Guide on How to Cite Primary Sources Following AGLC

As it has already been mentioned, the primary sources are cases and legislation. Let's have a closer look at the rules intended to be applied when citing cases. What are cases? A case can be defined as a court decision. All decisions are divided into those that are published in authorized and unauthorized series. If you have used authorized reports for your law paper, then you are expected to cite them in a certain order including the necessary details that are required in accordance with the standard guide.

The most commonly used reports from this category include Federal Court Reports. If you wonder how to cite them in an appropriate way, have a look at the structure you should stick to:

  • Write the part names.
  • Mention the date (the year is enough).
  • Include the volume number.
  • Provide the abbreviation of the report.
  • Give the number of the page you have used (you can be more exact and give even the number of the cited paragraph).

For example, The Official Law Reports (2009) 210 OLR 215. If you are going to cite those judgments that haven't been published that are called “unreported judgments” you should format the source like this example suggests: party names, year, court abbreviation, judgment №, full date. B v Lloyd [2015] WBCA 3 (7 May 2015).

How Should You Cite Secondary Law Sources Taking into Account the AGLC?

There are a lot of secondary information sources which can be used by a student studying law. Most college and university students give preference to journal articles, books, encyclopedias, and websites. Internet resources are the most commonly used because many students are short of time to look for other resources. If you have found the relevant information in one of the mentioned sources and want to include it in your piece of writing, you are recommended to check out how the Australian Guide to Legal Citation offers to format it in the right way.

Books: There is a standard guide on citing books, which implies that you should provide the following information: the author's name, the book title, the publication details, the cited page or paragraph. If you are going to cite an edited book, use the following example: Roberts, John, Brown G., Peterson, The Intellectual Property Law (Princeton University Press, 2015). What if you want to cite a certain paragraph? Then, the format will differ a bit. Check out this example: Smith, G., “The Intellectual Property Law,” Roberts and Daly (eds), Consequences of Stealing Intellectual Property (Lawbook, 3d ed, 20014), 10.

Articles: Journal articles are also commonly used by law students. If you are going to cite a journal article, assure that you are aware of citing regulations provided by the AGLC. When you cite an article, you are supposed to give such details as the author's name, article title, year of the publication, volume, title of the journal, cited page.

There are three different types of articles: with continuous voluming, without continuous voluming, and those which haven't been printed and can be found only on the Internet. Take this into account when citing an article used for your work. Study the examples below. Each of them corresponds to the regulations of the standard Australian guide.

An article with continuous voluming: Gibson, Melanie, “The Boundaries of the Law” (2017) 13(3) Internet Bulletin 55.

An article without voluming: Roberts, Matthew, “Which Parliamentary Privileges do Judges Have?” [2015] Public Law 620

Internet journal article: “Sentencing Guidelines for Taxpayers Convicted of FBAR Violations” (2018)(HG.org) < https://www.hg.org/article.asp?id=46912>

If you were attentive, you could notice that the year of each kind of article should be cited in either square or round brackets. Even such a small error is considered as a mistake when formatting paper resources. Bear this in mind when considering their differences.

Legal encyclopedias: When citing an encyclopedia, look for the following information: the publisher's name, title, date (either the date of its publication or the date when it has been updated), № of the certain chapter and the paragraph used. It should look like this: Nexis, Federal Laws of Australia, (15 April 2010) vol 15 500 “Taxation Regulations” [300-900]

Things to Keep in Mind When You Provide Bibliographies

Every paper written in an appropriate way should end with a list of references. Some students forget that it is impossible just to list all resources used without following a certain structure. The third edition of the AGLC provides the helpful guidelines on how to format bibliographies. Check it out before you get started, otherwise, you won't be able to meet the standard requirements.

If you doubt that you have the necessary knowledge on how to organize references, keep in mind that the only correct way is to place them in the alphabetical order. Sounds easy, doesn't it? If you have many books, articles, etc. used for your college or university assignment in law, the process of organizing resources may be time-consuming.

You need to be attentive not to make mistakes as it is easy to miss a comma, brackets, and other small things that play a significant role. When working on your bibliographies, you should make a list of books, cases, etc. having the same subheadings. For example, write “Articles” and place those sources which refer to this category. Do the same with books, legislation, reports, etc.

Don't think that the Australian Guide to Legal Citation has been designed with the aim to make the life of students more complicated. Its main goal is to standardize citation regulations and to provide an opportunity to use various legal resources for writing academic assignments and any types of papers without being accused of plagiarism. If you follow the guide, you will see that the systematic approach to organizing different types of works is very effective and convenient.

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