The Law Society Library provides information on unusual citations.
The Law Society library maintains a database of enquiries called Common Queries. These include results from research to find forms, precedents, rules, regulations and guidance. These records can be freely accessed via the library catalogue Library Knowledge Base.
We occasionally receive enquiries about strange and unusual citations. Do we know what they are and do we have them? Below is a very brief guide to some of the more unusual (and older) citations.
Year Books (1268-1535)
The Year Books are anonymous collections of legal material arranged chronologically by regnal year and within each year by law term, hence the name. They are a source of case law and legal commentary.
Case citations can refer to the case in general terms, e.g. The Miller’s Case, but the name may not be known or even appear in the text.
5 Hen VII, fo 15 means folio 15 of the fifth year of the reign of Henry VII. The source and context in which a citation such as this appears may be the only clue that this is a Year Book citation.
The Farrier’s Case (1372) YB Trin 46 Edw III, fo 19, pl19 is as complete a citation as you will ever see for a Year Book and is very rare. This case dates from the Year Book (YB) of 1372 in Trinity Term (Trin) of the forty sixth year of the reign of Edward III in folio 19.
We hold a set of Year Books, plus a collection of translations as they are written in law French.
Book of Orders (1544-1875)
The Book of Orders began a few years after the last of the Year Books and finished soon after the official series of law reports began.
They were the official court records and contain verbatim texts of court orders and decrees. Initially they were divided into two volumes for each year - A and B. After 1629 the two annual volumes were divided alphabetically by plaintiff - A to K and L to Z. They are a huge collection of thousands of folio volumes. We do not hold any copies; the originals are held at The National Archives.
A full citation would appear as Fox contra Huddleson 4 Jac. li. B. fo. 204 [1606-71], which means Fox v Huddleson, heard in the fourth year of King James (Jac.) in book B (li. B), folio (fo.) number 204.
Nominate Reports (1571-1865)
Prior to the establishment of the Incorporated Council of Law Reporting (ICLR) in 1865 and the start of what are generally called the ‘official’ series, law reports were private commercial publications of varying quality. They tended to be named after the individual reporters - hence the name. A typical citation would be Callwell v Callwell (1860) 3 Sw. & Tr. 259. Sw. & Tr. being Swabey & Tristram’s Probate & Divorce Reports.
The English Reports reprinted the most important and trustworthy of the nominate reports (and other cases) in 156 volumes covering the years 1220 to 1865. A lot of nominate reports have an English Report (E.R.) citation as well, if it does not, the quality and authority may be questionable.
We hold a full set of English Reports and a huge collection of the original nominate reports. The English Reports are also available on the COMMLII website.
If you ever come across a citation you do not recognise, please give us a call. We will almost certainly be able to identify it and provide a copy.
For further help and enquiries please contact the Law Society Library on 020 7320 5946 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
This FAQ is compiled by the Law Society Library. Comments relating to the questions should be sent to email@example.com.
While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information in this article, it does not constitute legal advice and cannot be relied upon as such. The Law Society does not accept any responsibility for liabilities arising as a result of reliance upon the information given.