By Ann Marie Melvie, Librarian, Court of Appeal for Saskatchewan
and Joanne V. Colledge-Miller, MacPherson Leslie & Tyerman LLP
The Citation Guide for the Courts of Saskatchewan adopts a hybrid approach when it comes to using periods within a citation. What this means in practical terms, is that all periods are removed from citations except those contained in proper nouns, including corporate names or abbreviations in individuals’ names.
You may wonder why there is a need to eliminate periods. What has the period done to us anyway? Or, you may be on the other side of the fence and wonder why periods need to remain in citations at all. Let’s explore.
There is a worldwide trend towards the removal of periods from legal citations. The Oxford University Standard for the Citation of Legal Authorities and the Australian Guide to Legal Citation removed periods from citations. The 7th edition of the Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation (McGill Guide) also removed periods from citations. Harvard Law School’s Bluebook retains periods, but the University of Chicago Manual of Legal Citation (Maroonbook) has adopted a hybrid approach, removing periods from citations but keeping them when referring to names. So generally, the majority of the common law world has adopted or is moving towards adopting a citation style that no longer includes periods. In Canada, the adoption of neutral citations (discussed in our previous post) is a perfect example of citations without periods.
The removal of periods from acronyms makes sense. We do not write C.B.C., we write CBC. We write NATO, NFL, CFL, NBA, and NHL. We can therefore do the same with RSC, RSS, SS, SCR, DLR, WWR, CR, CCC, and so on. We know that “RSC” stands for the “Revised Statutes of Canada”. And we know that “CR” stands for the Criminal Reports.
Our Guide prescribes that periods should be removed from places in a citation where it is implicitly understood there is an abbreviation. For instance, the period after the “v” in the case name is removed; they are removed from print report abbreviations and from abbreviations to legislation. In criminal matters, periods are removed after the “R”.
However, the Guide prescribes that periods must be retained in proper names where their removal could cause confusion:
Note that within a citation, periods should be removed from “para” when dealing with a paragraph number and from “s” when dealing with a section number. But these rules only apply to proper citations. Within the body of a document, these abbreviations keep their punctuation e.g., “The Court made the following statement at para. 25.” In this case, because “para” is not within the citation proper, it must retain the period. Or, in this sentence “the Court called for a combined approach to s. 241(2) of the Canada Business Corporations Act”, the period is retained after the “s”.
One last place where periods will remain is in a list of authorities or a bibliography. In that case, you still continue to end each citation with a period. For example:
Canada (Attorney General) v H.L.,  5 WWR 421 (Sask CA).
Gray v Wiegers, 2008 SKCA 7, 291 DLR (4th) 176.
So, what does this mean for you?
It means that you will have relatively few periods in your citations. But, as described above, you need to keep them when referring to proper nouns within citations.
|This is part 3 of a 7-part series on the Citation Guide for the Courts of Saskatchewan: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7|
Ann Marie Melvie is the Librarian at the Court of Appeal for Saskatchewan, having served in this position since 2001. She received her Bachelor of Education from the University of Saskatchewan and her diploma as a Library Technician from SIAST.
Joanne V. Colledge-Miller is currently an associate at MacPherson Leslie & Tyerman LLP, practicing in the areas of commercial litigation and class actions.