Many, if not indeed most, jurisdictions' (eg Germany, the UK, Australia, Canada, the Court of Justice of the European Union, and the European Court of Human Rights) courts make use of numbered paragraphs for easy citation across a variety of platforms. This avoids issues with citation and allows for (on platforms such as BAILII or AustLII) HTML pinpoint linking to specific parts of judgments. I know that US statutory provisions use paragraph numbering, and a google (I have no formal study of American law) seems to suggest that court papers such as written arguments often require numbered paragraphs. Yet, the US supreme court and (again, from a quick web search) the US state courts do not seem to use this easy and extremely simple innovation to aid citation.

Is there a reason why? Or is this one of those things like inches and Fahrenheit where it's just an American practice that doesn't have a reason?

  • In part, because we use page numbers instead. – user6726 May 12 '20 at 21:11
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    Like inches and Fahrenheit, the question you should be asking is when and why other common law jurisdictions adopted the practice of numbering paragraphs. – phoog May 13 '20 at 3:29
  • A quick look at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lists_of_landmark_court_decisions suggests that the practice was adopted in the UK between 16 and 27 years ago. – phoog May 13 '20 at 3:38
  • @curiouseuropean This practice ist not very old in Germany (and I think also for the European Court) either. It comes with publication in the internet that courts give paragraph numbers themself. Before it was numbered (or not) by each legal journal (so potential competing numberings) and cited by page in the (semi-)official collection (in form of books). – K-HB May 14 '20 at 18:34

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