Neutral citation

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Since a Practice direction in 2001 to this effect, and its ammendment by another in 2002, it has been a requirement that where cases are cited in documents tendered into court, the 'neutral citation' form should be used where possible. Conventionally cases have been cited from the report series in which they are found, with the Law reports series being considered most authoratative. The neutral form denotes simply the court that issued the judgement, the case number, and -- where necessary -- the paragraph. The Practice Direction also calls for cases to be transcribed without page numbers, but with paragraph numbers.

At present the courts that are reported in this way are the Criminal and Civil Divisions of the Court of Appeal (denoted 'EWCA Crim' and 'EWCA Civ' respectively) and the High Court ('EWHC'). The court abbreviation is followed by the case number (issued consecutively from '1') and, in the case of the High Court, an abbreviation for the division of the court. These are Ch (Chancery), Pat (Patents), QB (Queen's Bench), Admin (Administrative Court), Comm (Commercial), Admlty (Admiralty), TCC (Technology and Construction), and Fam (Family).

The purpose of these changes is to make it easier to store and search judgements using computer-based text retrieval systems.