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1.1.7 Abbreviations

(a) Abbreviations of common phrases

Subject to the rules below, avoid abbreviations in the main text.

In particular, do not use “etc”.

Do not use contractions such as “I’m”, “can’t” and “wouldn’t”.

(b) Symbols for units of measurement

Symbols for units of metric measurement may be used, such as “m”, “km” and “km/h”. Write out imperial units of measurement in full.

The modern form of the metric system is the International System of Units maintained by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM). The symbols for the different units of measure are available from BIPM’s website <www.bipm.org/en/publications/si-brochure>.

(c) Reference tags

Sometimes it will be convenient to refer to a case, article, agreement or other source by an abbreviated name where the full name is long or the source is referred to frequently. These abbreviated names are known as reference tags and can be used in both the main text and the footnotes.

However, it is not necessary to use a reference tag if the abbreviation being adopted obviously refers to only one source. Whether a reference tag is needed is a matter for the writer’s judgement.

When the source is referred to for the first time in the main text, write its name out in full, followed by the reference tag in round brackets.

When placed in footnotes the reference tag should follow the citation in square brackets.

Apply the formatting of the original name to the reference tag: if the original name was italicised, italicise the reference tag; if the original name was enclosed in quotation marks, so should be the reference tag.

The main text and footnotes are separate in this regard: if a reference tag is to be used in the main text, introduce it in the main text; if a reference tag is to be used in the footnotes, introduce it in the footnotes. This may result in reference tags being introduced in both the main text and the footnotes.

For more guidance on the use of reference tags in footnotes, including when cross-referencing, see rule 2.3.2.

Eg In main text:

In Equiticorp Industries Group Ltd (in stat man) v Attorney-General (Equiticorp No 50) Smellie J considered the issues of costs …

In “Recognising Multi-textualism: Rethinking New Zealand’s Legal History” (“Recognising Multi-textualism”) Richard Boast considered the agreements signed between Māori and the Crown …

Report of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Compensation for Personal Injury in New Zealand (Woodhouse Report)

Eg In the footnotes:

1 Equiticorp Industries Group Ltd (in stat man) v Attorney-General HC Auckland CP2455/89, 7 August 1996 [Equiticorp No 50].

2 RP Boast “Recognising Multi-textualism: Rethinking New Zealand’s Legal History” (2006) 37 VUWLR 547 [“Recognising Multi-textualism”] at 550.

(d) Country names

In general, do not abbreviate country names.

Common names may, however, be used. For example, it is permissible to refer to China, as opposed to the People’s Republic of China, or Mexico, as opposed to the United Mexican States.

In particular:

(a) Do not abbreviate New Zealand to “NZ”.

(b) The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland may be abbreviated to the “United Kingdom” but not to the “UK”.

(c) The United States of America may be abbreviated to the “United States” but not to the “USA” or the “US of A”. Caution is necessary when referring to the United States as “America”, as this can be used to refer to the Americas as opposed to a single country.

(e) Acronyms and initialisms

Write out acronyms, words formed from the initial letters of other words, in full where they first appear in the main text, unless the acronym has achieved common usage in its own right, such as “OPEC”. The acronym should follow the full text in round brackets. Do not place the acronym in quotation marks.

Letters of an acronym, such as “NATO”, must not be separated by full stops or spaces.

Capitalise all letters in an acronym unless the acronym has achieved common usage as a word in its own right, such as “laser” or “Anzac” in “Anzac Day”.

If a phrase is lengthy and occurs often throughout the main text, an initialism may be used. If an initialism is used, write out the full phrase where it first occurs in the main text. The initialism should follow the full text in round brackets. Do not place the initialism in quotation marks.

Eg The first of these treaties is the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).4 The ICCPR was drafted in response to …

(f) Legislative abbreviations

“Section” of an Act is written in full if it is the first word in a sentence.

“Section” of an Act is otherwise abbreviated to “s” or “ss” in the plural.

Eg Freedom of expression is protected by s 14 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990.

Eg Resource Management Act 1991, s 24(f)–(g).

The same rule applies to the use of other legislative abbreviations. A list of legislative abbreviations may be found in rule 4.1.1(d).

When referring to a subsection, sub-clause or other part of a larger legislative provision, the relevant main section, clause or article should also be given.

Eg Supreme Court Act 2003, s 50(1)(a)(i).

However, it is unnecessary to refer to the original section if it is clear from the context that the provision is part of the larger provision.

(g) Clauses in contracts

When referring to a clause of a contract use the abbreviation “cl”, except where “clause” is the first word of the sentence in which case it should be written out in full. Use the abbreviation “cls” to refer to multiple clauses.

Eg In cl 7 the policy sets out the circumstances in which the insurer may exercise a right of subrogation.

(h) Legal entity abbreviations

For New Zealand, “Association”, “Company”, “Incorporated”, “Limited” and “Proprietary” are always abbreviated to “Assoc”, “Co”, “Inc”, “Ltd” and “Pty” respectively when referring to the legal status of a specific entity.

For a full list of abbreviations used in case names, see rule 3.2.1(b).

For other countries, use the abbreviation that appears to be common in the source being used.

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