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According to a recent answer,

“R” is only used in first instance trials, “the King” or “the Queen” are used in appeals and those are pronounced as you’d expect.

Why is this?

2 Answers 2

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It isn't

My previous answer dealt with how cases are cited, which is different from how they are named.

AFAIK a case is always named with the full name of the prosecutor:

  • His Majesty the King v X
  • The Director of Public Prosecutions v X
  • The Attorney General v X
  • The Environmental Protection Agency v X
  • The Australian Taxation Office v X
  • etc.

If you follow the links in @Jen's answer you will see that the name in every case is "Her Majesty the Queen". As an aside, the name in the intermediate case is "Respondent and Appeallant" - that would never happen in the UK or Australia; in thos it is always "Appeallant and Respondent".

Case citation is different and has to do with law reporting, that is, the legal publishing industry rather than the legal profession.

The history is fascinating (short Australian perspective, long US perspective), but not particularly relevant. Suffice it to say that the citation originated as the table of contents of the bound law reports and how they were cited was up to the publisher. This means citation styles vary between jurisdictions and between publishers within jurisdictions. Where judges gave written decisions (which was not and still often, is not, in England), they used those citations in their decisions. Other publishers collated the citations in their own publications and still other publishers wrote style guides explaining how cases a) were cited and b) should be cited (in their opinion).

So, if, in a particular jurisdiction, the law report that reported first-instance cases used "R" for the prosecutor (i.e. all those people listed above) and the one that reported appellate cases used "The Queen" that became baked into the style guide. If they both used "R", then that became baked in.

And then the internet happened.

It went from being very expensive and time-consuming to collate cases to being cheap, quick and easy, to the extent that many courts post their decisions online in a searchable database as soon as they are released to the parties. This has led, in many areas to the slow decline of law reports in favour of online databases and the adoption of medium-neutral citations; which got their styles from the predominant style guide in the jurisdiction.

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“R” is only used in first instance trials...

This is not true in Canada.

See e.g.

At all levels, the case citation uses "R." and the list of parties in the header of the judgment includes "Her Majesty the Queen."

While all provinces and territories use "R." in the citation, some use "Regina" or "Rex" as the expanded party name in the header of the judgment. See e.g. the Court of Appeal for British Columbia (R. v. Jansen, 2023 BCCA 387).

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    Canada's government databases online are so much better than the vast majority of U.S. states. I'm envious.
    – ohwilleke
    Nov 9, 2023 at 0:01

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