CANZUK's Neutral Citations all utilize the same formula — does USA have anything alike? I cannot remember who, but some professor wrote that American citations are more baffling than CANZUK's Neutral Citations.

Gonzales v. Oregon, 546 U.S. 243 (2006) doesn't abbreviate the court — SCOTUS in this case.
Castle Rock v. Gonzales, 125 S.Ct. 2796 (2005) doesn't number the judgment.

But CANZUK Neutral Citations bear the Judgment Year + Court Identifier + Judgment Number.

United Kingdom

ACG Acquisition XX LLC v Olympic Airlines SA (in liquidation) [2013] EWCA Civ 369 [. . .]
ACG Acquisition XX LLC v Olympic Airlines SA (in liquidation) [2012] EWHC 1070 (Comm) [. . .]
Actionstrength Ltd v International Glass Engineering SpA [2003] UKHL 17

Severine Saintier, Poole's Textbook on Contract Law (2021 15th edn), page xv.


Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd v Karam [2005] NSWCA 344

Equuscorp Pty Ltd v Glengallen Investments Pty Ltd [2004] HCA 55

Neil Andrews, Contract Law in Practice (2021), page lvii.


0856464 BC Ltd v Timber West Forest Corp (2014) BCSC 2433

Westpoint Management Ltd v Chocolate Factory Apartments Ltd [2007] NSWCA 253

Whiten v Pilot Insurance Co [2002] SCC 18

New Zealand

Bahramitash v Kumar [2005] NZSC 39

Electricity Corporation of New Zealand Ltd v Fletcher Challenge Ltd [2001] NZCA 289

Ibid, page lviii.

2 Answers 2


Your examples are not neutral citations

Gonzales v. Oregon, 546 U.S. 243 (2006) and Castle Rock v. Gonzales, 125 S.Ct. 2796 (2005) are not neutral citations because elements depend on the particular reporter series, rather than being neutral as to who has published.

These are citations to:

The court name is not separately mentioned because it is readily inferred from the reporters.

Some courts have enabled / prescribed some form of neutral citation

Federal and state courts in the U.S. do not uniformly provide their decisions with vendor-neutral citations, but many do provide and/or prescribe some method of citation that does not rely on proprietary reporters.

The Illinois state court system has directed parties to cite Illinois state court decisions by reference to the year, court level, and docket number.

Several other states have adopted a more typical neutral citation system, using the year, court, and sequence number. This conforms with the approach recommended by the American Association of Law Libraries and is consistent with Canadian, N.Z., and U.K. practice. E.g. Oklahoma and North Dakota:

  • 1995 OK 11
  • 1997 ND 15
  • 1
    FWIW, Colorado also has a neutral citation system. The trend is new and fairly fluid with states gradually transitioning one by one in the U.S., but with no real sign of a transition under way at the federal level. The pressure was somewhat eased to do so when it was held that West does not have a copyright in the primary citation of cases it reports, even though it has a copyright in its headnotes.
    – ohwilleke
    Jun 26, 2023 at 18:24

American courts do not have any officially prescribed standard for citing cases.

The citations we use don't usually include a judgment number, but I'd say they're still pretty straightforward in most cases. Generally, most citations will be laid out to include the following information:

  • The name of the case (usually as Plaintiff v. Defendant),
  • A reference to the volume and page of the reporter publishing the decision,
  • The court issuing the decision (if necessary),
  • The year of the decision.

Looking at Gonzales v. Oregon, 546 U.S. 243 (2006), for instance, the citation doesn't say that it's a SCOTUS decision, but it also doesn't need to because it's a citation to Volume 546, Page 243 of the U.S. Reports, which publishes decisions exclusively from the U.S. Supreme Court. But decisions from the circuit courts of appeals don't have their own individual reporters, so you would need to identify which court issued the decision when citing the case that Gonzales affirmed, e.g., Oregon v. Ashcroft, 368 F.3d 1118 (9th Cir. 2004)

The most widely accepted standard for citations -- whether to court decisions or previous court filings or external sources -- is the Bluebook, and "baffling" would be a generally accepted description of that standard. I imagine you've heard of the criticisms from Judge Posner, who has written repeatedly on this topic.

  • 2
    Thanks for reminding me of Richard Posner! He is the one!
    – user42021
    Jun 25, 2023 at 23:05
  • It should be pointed out that SCOTUS cases do not follow the (initiate v. deffendant) naming standard but rather Petitioner v. Respondent and may have started life with a different name. For example, the famous SCOTUS case Miranda v. Arizona started life as a criminal case (Stat of Arizona v. Ernesto Miranda) but through appeals, it was Miranda that initiated the petition for writ at the SCOTUS level, thus why the cases is cited in a Miranda v. Arizona format often when getting discussed.
    – hszmv
    Jun 26, 2023 at 18:32
  • Thank you for pointing that out.
    – bdb484
    Jun 26, 2023 at 18:48

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