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Law Subject Guide: Referencing

How to reference


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Check out the quick guide to OSCOLA here

Read the full OSCOLA guide here


OSCOLA stands for Oxford Standard For Citation of Legal Authorities. It was developed at the Faculty of Law, University of Oxford as a standardised system to cite legal sources. OSCOLA has now been adapted in order to be able to cite Irish legal material. Please note this referencing style is specifically for law sources, and is only used on a limited number of law modules at the National College of Ireland. Please double check with your lecturer or supervisor if you should be using this citation system.

Getting started

Below are a couple of examples of how to use OSCOLA. 

Example of citing a legal case in-text: 

When citing cases, give the name of the case, the neutral citation (if appropriate), and volume and first page of the relevant law report, and where necessary the court. If the name of the case is given in the text, it is not necessary to repeat it in the footnote. For example:

Although Costello J strongly approved of their use in Wavin Pipes v Hepworth Iron Ltd.32 Keane J felt there must be some 'obscurity, ambiguity or potential absurdity in the relevant provisions which would justify the court having recourse to what was said in the Oireachtas in order to ascertain the legislative intention.’33 Later, Walsh J stated in Quilligan that the search for intention is confined to the text of legislation: ‘Whatever may have been in the minds of the members of the Oireachtas when the legislation was passed, in so far as their intention can be deduced, as it must be, from the words of the statute.’34
32 (1982) 8 FSR 32 (HC).
33 ACW v Ireland [1994] 3 IR 232, sub nom Wadda v Ireland [1994] 1 ILRM 126 (HC) 137.
34 People (DPP) v Quilligan [1986] IR 495 (SC) 511.

Source:  Donnelly, L,  Fahey, E, Kennedy, R, and Schweppe J​, OSCOLA ( 2011).

As can be seen in the example above, OSCOLA uses footnotes rather than a reference to author and work in the body of the text.

Example of a citation of a book, single author, in a bibliography:

Author surname, initials, title in italics, edition, publisher and year

Example: Doolan B, Principles of Irish Law (8th edn, Gill and Macmillan 2011).



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