A Brief Guide to Finding and Using Reported Judgments of the JCPC
Many, though not all, of the judgments in the cases found in the catalogue were reported and those printed reports can be found in a variety of places. In reading the printed reports you should be aware that, prior to the creation of the Incorporated Council of Law Reporting in 1865, no official law reports were printed. As such reports prior to 1865 should be treated with a degree of caution. They were not subject to quality control, official approval or authorisation prior to publication and may therefore contain inaccuracies.
The English Reports
The main source of reports for pre-1865 JCPC judgments is the English Reports, which cover the period from 1220 to 1873. The reports gather together a number of series of so-called nominate law reports by a range of authors. JCPC cases will predominantly be found in:
- Moore’s Privy Council Cases – Moo. P.C.
- Moore’s Privy Council Cases, New Series – Moo. P.C. N.S.
Copies of the English Reports can be found in any law library. They can also be accessed digitally via a number of paid access legal databases, including: Westlaw, HeinOnline, and Lexis. You can also access them for free at: http://www.commonlii.org/uk/cases/EngR/.
The Law Reports
The official Law Reports commence in 1865 and JCPC cases are reported in a number of different sub-series from that time. These are:
- Privy Council – L.R.P.C. (1865-1875)
- Appeal Cases – App. Cas. (1875-1890)
- Appeal Cases – A.C. (1891-present)
Copies of the Law Reports can be found in any law library. They can also be accessed digitally via a number of paid access legal databases, including: Westlaw and Lexis.
Reports of selected JCPC cases from 1809 to 1995 and all JCPC cases from 1996 to the present can also be accessed free at: http://www.bailii.org/uk/cases/UKPC/.
Understanding Legal Citations
The usual form of citation in a civil case is plaintiff (claimant)/appellant v defendant/respondent. So if a JCPC case is referred to as Bishop of Cape Town v Bishop of Natal we know that the appellant (the party appealing) is the Bishop of Cape Town and that the respondent (the person defending or responding to the appeal) is the Bishop of Natal.
If a case is reported in the English Reports then the full citation will look something like this:
Bishop of Cape Town v Bishop of Natal, 16 E.R. 702; (1869) 6 Moo. P.C. N.S. 203
In the first part of this citation the number 16 refers to the volume, E.R. tells you that it is in the English Reports, and the number 702 tells you the page number.
In the second part of this citation (1869) tells you the year in which it was reported, the number 6 tells you the relevant volume of the nominate reports, Moo. P.C. N.S. tells you that it is Moore’s Privy Council Reports (New Series), and 203 refers to the page number.
If a case is reported in the Law Reports then the full citation will look something like this:
Bishop of Cape Town v Bishop of Natal, (1869-71) L.R. 3 P.C. 1
In this citation (1869-71) tells you the years covered by the volume, L.R. tells you that the case is reported in the Law Reports, 3 P.C. tells you that the case is in the third volume of the Privy Council series, and 1 refers to the page number.
N.B. if the date is given in square brackets in the citation  then you will need this to find the relevant volume of the reports because the volume is identified by the year in which it is published. If the date is given in parentheses (1966) then the date is not necessary to find the case but is merely given for additional information.
From January 2001 cases have been allocated with neutral citations. A neutral citation for a JCPC case will look like this: Bolkiah v Brunei Darussalam  UKPC 63. In this citation  refers to the year in which the case was decided, UKPC tells you that it was decided by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, and 63 refers to the case number. If you were referring to particular sections of the judgment then you would also provide the reader with relevant paragraph numbers.
Reading Law Reports
For the non-lawyer useful guides to reading law reports can be found at: