How to Cite Authority

As in addressing the court, there is an art to presenting authority to the court. When citing a case to the court you should not use written abbreviations. Instead quote the full form.

For example,

instead of saying

"Donoghue vee Stevenson 1932 S.C. (H.L.) 31..."

you should say

"Donoghue against Stevenson, reported in the 1932 volume of Session Cases at page 31 of the House of Lords reports".

Similarly, always refer to Her (or His!) Majesty's Advocate and not "H.M.A.".

When referring to a passage within a case, you should make it clear to the judge exactly where he will find the passage to which you wish to draw his attention.

For example, say

"Donoghue against Stevenson, reported in the 1932 volume of Session Cases at page 31 of the House of Lords reports, the speech of Lord Aitken on page 44, ten lines up from the bottom of the page, starting "Who then is my neighbour?"

Do not start to quote until you can see that the judge has found the exact place in the report. Always ensure that you and the court are using the same set of law reports. Don't cite from the Scots Law Times if you cited the Session Cases in you list of authorities!

It is often advisable to have a photocopy of the entirety of any case to which you intend to refer. Then, if the judge wants to draw your attention to a different passage in the report you will be able to understand his point and respond.

When citing a case, it is often advisable to offer to acquaint the judge with the facts of the case. This offer is often not taken up, but it is still polite to do so.