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Find cases: Citing cases in OSCOLA

This guide suggests where to look for Irish and European cases

Introduction to OSCOLA (and OSCOLA Ireland)

In essence, the Oxford University Standard for Legal Citation of Authorities (OSCOLA) is a set of rules describing how you should format citations in footnotes (and in your reference list | bibliography). It specifically describes formatting of citations for legal sources. OSCOLA uses footnotes and requires the following:

OSCOLA is designed to help you cite your sources consistently. Not only is this good academic practice, it also helps the person reading your work to trace your sources. Note: Consistency and accuracy are both *really* important here!

OSCOLA rules are listed according to the type of information source you wish to cite (case, legislation, etc.) and how to apply each one is shown in examples. Examples in the "original" OSCOLA guide (now in its 4th edition) are taken from UK law - the guide is available free on the Oscola UK website. Larry Donnelly, Elaine Fahey, Rónán Kennedy and Jennifer Schweppe have helpfully adapted OSCOLA to create OSCOLA Ireland - a guide to legal citation which "gives rules and examples for the main Irish legal primary sources" (Pg.1). OSCOLA Ireland is available at

 On this page see also their extremely useful one-page Quick reference guide which shows at a glance how to cite the legal sources you'll most frequently use.

Consider the information source you need to cite; look to the examples to find out:

  • what information you should record
  • how you should record it (order, punctuation, capitalisation, italicisation, brackets - round or square...?)

 Tip: Use the control + 'f' shortcut function on your keyboard to locate the section of the longer OSCOLA guide you need. Eg. control + 'f' "unreported judgment"

Key features of OSCOLA

1. Abbreviate

OSCOLA uses lots of abbreviations. Titles of journals and court names are always abbreviated. Check the Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations (search by title option) to find the correct abbreviation. Note: OSCOLA also rules that there is no punctuation between letters in an abbreviation. Here is the correct way to cite Irish courts according to OSCOLA:

  • IECA (= Court of Appeal)
  • IECCA (= Court of Criminal Appeal)
  • IEHC (= High Court of Ireland)
  • IESC (= Supreme Court of Ireland)


  • IR is the correct way to cite the Irish reports
  • ILRM is the correct way to cite the Irish law reports monthly

OSCOLA Ireland also tells us that if a case is reported in the Irish reports or the Irish law reports monthly, this report should be cited in preference to any other report. If a case is reported in both the Irish reports and the Irish law reports monthly, give the Irish reports reference (Pg. 14) - this is the hierarchy of Irish reports.

2. Minimise punctuation

It's not just left out of abbreviations; there is also no full stop after initials. When citing cases, commas should generally only be used to prevent two separate citations from running into each other (- see exception: citation for an unreported case without neutral citation below)

However..., DO close footnotes with a full stop or another form of punctuation (eg. ')' or ']' closing brackets) 


A citation for a reported case should follow this format:

party names | [date] | court | case number, [date] | Irish reports citation

  • Irwin v Deasy [2011] IESC 15, [2011] 2 IR 752


A citation for an unreported case with a neutral citation should follow this format:

party names | [date] | court | case number

  • Release Speech Therapy v HSE [2011] IEHC 57


citation for an unreported case without a neutral citation should follow this format:

party names | (court, dd month year)

  • S v Eastern Health Board (HC, 22 July 1988)


Quick links

Original OSCOLA

OSCOLA Ireland one-page quick reference at

OSCOLA Ireland full version (35 pages) at