3.4 Unreported cases
When citing an unreported decision of a court or tribunal, use the official neutral citation if one is available.
If an official neutral citation is not available, cite in accordance with the file number citation format explained below. Note that the file number citation format varies depending on whether the decision being cited is one given by a court or tribunal with a single registry (for example the Supreme Court or the Court of Appeal) or a court or tribunal with multiple registries (for example the High Court or District Courts).
Note that Waitangi Tribunal reports should be cited in accordance with rule 3.6.
Date of judgment
Example (single registry)
R v Reekie
3 August 2004
Example (multiple registries)
R v Tuhou
11 September 2008
Eg R v Reekie CA339/03, 3 August 2004 at .
Eg R v Tuhou HC Napier CRI-2007-020-2820, 11 September 2008 at .
Cite decisions of tribunals without a neutral citation in accordance with this rule.
Eg Greenbaum v Waikato District Health Board ERA Auckland AA506/10, 10 December 2010.
3.4.1 When to use
(a) Supreme Court
Supreme Court judgments delivered in 2004 were not given neutral citations. Cite them in accordance with this rule.
(b) Court of Appeal
Court of Appeal judgments delivered before 2007 were not given neutral citations. Also cite them in accordance with this rule.
(c) High Court
High Court judgments delivered before 2012 were not given neutral citations. Also cite them in accordance with this rule.
(d) District Court
The District Court has not adopted neutral citations, except for accident compensation appeals (see rule 3.3.3(b) above). Cite all other District Court decisions in accordance with this rule.
(e) Other courts and tribunals
See rules 3.3.3(b) and 3.3.3(c) for the years in which other courts and tribunals adopted neutral citation.
3.4.2 Case name and pinpoint
Give the case name and pinpoint in accordance with the relevant rules for reported judgments: see rules 3.2.1 and 3.2.8 above.
3.4.3 Court abbreviation
(a) When to use
When citing unreported judgments from a court with a single registry (for example the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal) it is not necessary to include a court abbreviation as the court will be obvious from the file number.
However, when citing unreported judgments from a court with multiple registries (for example the High Court and District Courts) it is necessary to include a court abbreviation.
Use an abbreviation to identify the court that decided the case. Use "HC" for the High Court, "DC" for the District Court and "FC" for the Family Court.
Eg R v Kahui HC Auckland CRI-2006-057-1135, 12 October 2007.
Eg Hard to Find But Worth the Effort Quality Second Hand Books (Wellington) Ltd v He DC Wellington CIV-2005-085-632, 21 August 2006.
Eg KAB v PRJ FC Tauranga FAM-2008-070-1800, 17 February 2009.
Appendix 1 contains a list of court identifiers for other New Zealand courts and tribunals.
(a) When to use
When citing unreported judgments from a court or tribunal with a single registry (for example the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal) it is not necessary to include the name of the registry as there is only one.
However, when citing unreported judgments from a court or tribunal with multiple registries (for example the High Court and District Courts) it is necessary to include the name of the registry.
(b) Full name
Identify the relevant court or tribunal registry by writing out the location in full. Do not use abbreviations.
3.4.5 File number
(a) Supreme Court
The format of Supreme Court file numbers for civil cases in 2004 was “SC CIV [case number]/2004”.
Eg Chirnside v Fay SC CIV 7/2004, 26 August 2004.
The format of Supreme Court file numbers for criminal cases in 2004 was “SC CRI [case number]/2004”.
Eg R v Palmer SC CRI 13/2004, 12 October 2004.
(b) Court of Appeal
The Court of Appeal uses the same file number format for both civil and criminal cases, namely “CA[case number]/[last two digits of the year the case was filed in]”. Do not use a space between “CA” and the file number and year.
Eg R v Albert CA429/01, 14 March 2002.
Eg Pauling v Williams CA69/00, 18 August 2000.
Prior to 2007, the Court of Appeal used two different sets of file numbers, one for criminal appeals and one for civil. Accordingly, a criminal and civil case may share the same file number.
Eg R v Brown CA111/06, 26 July 2006.
Eg Fava v Zaghloul CA111/06, 26 September 2006.
(c) High Court, District Court and Family Court: current format
Give the court file number after the registry abbreviation. The file number is followed by a comma to separate it from the date.
The current format for High Court, District Court and Family Court file numbers is CIV-year-XXX-XXXXXX for civil cases, CRI-year-XXX-XXXXXX for criminal cases and FAM-year-XXX-XXXXXX for family cases.
Separate each part of the registry number by a hyphen, even where the original judgment uses a space or runs the components together. The final part of the registry number may be up to six digits long. Omit any leading zeroes. For example, 001358 becomes 1358.
Eg Plot Ltd v Brereton HC Christchurch CIV-2007-409-2659, 17 January 2008.
NOT Plot Ltd v Brereton HC Christchurch CIV 2007 409 002659, 17 January 2008.
(d) Other formats
When citing an unreported judgment that uses a different file number format from those mentioned immediately above, give the file number as it appears on the original copy of the judgment, except that if the file number includes "no", this should be removed. Do not include a space between any letters and numbers that make up the file number.
Eg Molloy v Molloy HC Auckland CP106/99, 10 June 1999.
Before 1980 the High Court of New Zealand was called the Supreme Court of New Zealand. When citing a judgment of that Court use “SC” as the court abbreviation.
Eg Howse v Attorney-General SC Palmerston North A132/75, 22 December 1977.
(e) Multiple numbers
When a case has multiple file numbers, only include the first number in the citation.
Eg R v Te Kahu CA492/04, 28 September 2005.
NOT R v Te Kahu CA492/04 CA509/04 CA512/04, 28 September 2005.
Include a comma after the file number to separate it from the date of judgment.
Eg Haines v Carter CA286/99, 21 December 2000.
Eg Williams v Jones HC Auckland CIV-2003-404-6565, 10 February 2005.
3.4.6 Date of judgment
The date of judgment follows the file number. Write the month out in full without abbreviations and give all four digits of the year.
Where judgment and reasons for judgment are given separately, give the date of judgment, not the date on which the reasons were subsequently given. This applies even where the judgment has later been recalled and reissued at a later date. If context requires, it may be necessary to state the date on which the reasons were given as well.
3.4.7 Minutes and rulings given during trial
Where it is necessary to cite a minute or a ruling given during the course of a trial, use the citation format for unreported cases but give the date of the minute or ruling as opposed to the date of the judgment.
Eg Orlov v Chief Executive of the Ministry of Social Development CA280/2009, 2 December 2010.
In cases where it is necessary to distinguish between several minutes or rulings given on the same day or if it is not clear from context that the citation is to a minute or ruling and not a judgment, a brief description of the minute or ruling may be included after the date (and before any pinpoint) in round brackets.
Eg Wellington International Airport Limited v Commerce Commission HC Wellington CIV-2011-485-249,1 June 2011 (Minute No 16).
Eg Wellington International Airport Limited v Commerce Commission HC Wellington CIV-2011-485-249, 1 June 2011 (Minute No 17) at .
3.4.8 Judge identifier
The name of the judge who decided the case is not part of the case citation.
However, where reference to the name of the judge or judges is deemed appropriate, give the name or names in accordance with rule 3.2.9.