General Rules: Main Text

1.1 Prose

1.1.1 Language

(a) Appropriate language

Avoid gender-specific language unless it is necessary. In particular, avoid terms such as “man”, “men” or “mankind” to refer to people in general. Do not use “he” or “his” to describe people who may be male or female, or male pronouns to describe groups that may be made up of both men and women.

(b) Spelling

New Zealand spelling, as opposed to American or Australian, is to be used. For reference to New Zealand spelling, see the latest edition of The New Zealand Oxford Dictionary.

Whether or not a word needs a hyphen should be resolved with reference to this dictionary.

Where English words may be alternatively spelt with a “z” or an “s”, use the form with the “s”.

Eg Attorney-General

NOT Attorney General

Eg organisation

NOT organization

Eg italicise
NOT italicize

Note that when referring to the decision of a court, “judgment” is spelt without an “e”.

(c) Māori

Māori words should generally not be italicised.

Authors using Māori words or phrases should follow the guidelines of Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori (the Māori Language Commission): see Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori “Guidelines for Māori Language Orthography” (2012) <>. Spelling should comply with the latest edition of The Raupō Dictionary of Modern Māori.

Macrons must be used as appropriate to indicate vowel length except that quotations follow the original, including when quoting legislation.

For Māori place names, Land Information New Zealand maintains a helpful list of official place names assigned by the New Zealand Geographic Board Ngā Pou Taunaha o Aotearoa: “New Zealand Gazetteer of place names” <>. However, not all Māori place names in the New Zealand Gazetteer have had their spelling checked for macrons.

Provide translations of passages in Māori in footnotes.

Key Māori concepts may also have to be explained either in the main text or in footnotes.

Refer to government departments and other organisations that have both Māori and English names by the name by which they are most commonly known.

If the nature of the organisation is not clear from the context of the article, this should be explained.

Eg Te Puni Kōkiri

NOT New Zealand Ministry of Māori Development

Eg Ministry of Health

NOT Manatū Hauora

Authors writing in te reo Māori or using Māori legal terminology should consult Māmari Stephens and Mary Boyce (eds) He Papakupu Reo Ture: A Dictionary of Māori Legal Terms (LexisNexis, Wellington, 2013) available at <>.

Do not italicise Latin and French words in common legal usage. Avoid such terms if it is possible to express the concept in English easily.

Examples of terms in common legal usage that may be used include:
  • ad hoc
  • lex causae
  • obiter dictum/obiter dicta
  • prima facie
  • stare decisis
  • autrefois acquit
  • lex loci delicti
  • per se
  • ratio decidendi/rationes decidendi
  • ultra vires

(e) Foreign language words or phrases

All other foreign language words and expressions that are not part of New Zealand current usage must be italicised and translated into English in a footnote.

Whenever foreign words or names are used, the correct accents or vowel modifiers must be used.

(f) Citing materials in a foreign language

When citing a source in a foreign language, or a title in a foreign language, give the citation in the original language following the rules in this guide. If appropriate, give a translation of the title of the source after the citation in round brackets. Give the translation in the same format as the original. For instance, titles of texts are given in italics, so translations of titles of texts are also given in italics; titles of articles are given in double quotation marks, so translations of titles of articles are also given in double quotation marks.

Eg 61 Rolena Adorno Cronista y príncipe: La obra de Don Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala (Pontficia Universidad Católica del Perú, Lima, 1989) (translation: Chronicler and Prince: The work of Don Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala).

62 Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch, § 822 (translation: Civil Code).

63 Tony Angelo “The Challenge of Diversity” in Ingeborg Schwenzer and Günter Hager (eds) Festschrift für Peter Schlechtriem zum 70 Geburtstag (Mohr Siebeck, Tubingen, 2003) 311 at 317 (translation: Festschrift for Peter Schlechtriem on his 70th Birthday).

If the source has been officially translated and published in English, give a reference to the translated edition of the source in round brackets rather than giving a translation of the title.

Eg 64 Danilo Zolo La giustizia dei vincitori Da Norimberga a Baghdad (Editori Laterza, Roma, 2006) (translated ed: MW Weir (translator) Danilo Zolo Victors’ Justice: From Nuremberg to Baghdad (Verso, London, 2009)).

Eg 65 Philippe Ariès L’enfant et la vie familiale sous l’Ancien Régime (Plon, Paris, 1960) (translated ed: R Baldick (translator) Philippe Ariès Centuries of Childhood (Cape, London, 1964)).

When listing foreign language sources in a bibliography do not give a translation of the title of the source.

7.7.1 for the citation of translated historical works.

1.1.2 Punctuation

Only punctuate when grammatically necessary, and not to indicate abbreviation.

Eg “Kós P”

NOT “Kós P.”

Do not use the “Oxford comma” or serial comma, except where it provides clarity.

Eg Her specialist areas of law were public, international and environmental.

NOT Her specialist areas of law were public, international, and environmental.

Eg Her favourite subjects were property, torts, and law and economics.

NOT Her favourite subjects were property, torts and law and economics.

Double quotation marks can be used to signal that a term is being used in an unconventional way, to distance the writer from the term or to refer to a particular word rather than its meaning. See rule 1.2.2 for the correct use of quotation marks for quotations.

Eg Commentators have coined the phrase “Google mistrials”.

NOT Commentators have coined the phrase ‘Google mistrials’.

1.1.3 Italics

Māori and English words should generally not be italicised unless a citation requires italics.

The following should be italicised:
  • names of parties to cases (including the “v”), for example Barron v Barron;
  • names of newspapers, for example The Dominion Post;
  • titles of books, for example Salmond and Heuston on the Law of Torts; and
  • titles of government reports, for example The Prosecution of Offences.

1.1.4 Emphasis

Add emphasis by italicising. Do not use quotation marks, capitals, bold or underlining to add emphasis.

Emphasis should be used sparingly.

1.1.5 Capital letters

Avoid unnecessary use of capital letters.

Capitalise proper nouns. When using a short-form title of a specific legal or constitutional person, organisation, or institution use capital letters.

Eg The newspaper criticised the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade on the basis that ministers should not mix public and private business. In response the Minister resigned.

Eg The Court of Appeal held that the Judge had misunderstood the discretion afforded to judges in this area. Accordingly, the Court set aside the judgment.

Eg The High Court noted that a court should be cautious about interfering in political matters. In general, the courts respect the separation of powers.

Eg The Fourth Labour Government deregulated many aspects of the New Zealand economy. Many governments around the world later followed suit.

Eg In Smith v Smith the Court of Appeal sat as a full court. The Full Court found in favour of the appellant.

However, the following are always given an initial capital letter when used in their legislative or constitutional sense:
  • Act;
  • Bill;
  • Cabinet;
  • Crown;
  • Her Majesty, the Queen;
  • his Honour, her Honour, their Honours; and
  • Parliament (but not when used as an adjective).
Eg The New South Wales Parliament determined that parliamentary procedure required that course.

1.1.6 Naming parliamentarians, courts and judges

(a) General rule

Conventional titles such as “Ms” or “Mr” may be included in the text before a person’s name, but not in citations.

1.1.6(d)(i). The only prefixed titles that should be included in citations are peerage titles (including when referring to Law Lords) and the courtesy title “Lord” or “Lady” for Justices of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom.

Post-nominal titles such as “QSM” should not be included after the name of the author of a source in either the text or in citations. The titles “QC” and “SC” may be included after the first reference to the author in the text but omitted on subsequent occasions. In accordance with the rules for giving the names of the authors of secondary materials, post-nominal titles should not be used when citing to secondary materials (see for example rule 6.1.2(c)).

(b) Parliamentarians

Refer to Members of Parliament in the following way in the first reference (on subsequent occasions they may be referred to simply by a conventional title and their last name):

Eg Golriz Ghahraman MP (Ms Ghahraman on subsequent references)

Members of Parliament who are, or who were, members of the Executive Council are accorded the honorific “Honourable”. Refer to them in the following way:

Eg Hon Christopher Finlayson MP (Mr Finlayson on subsequent references)

Eg Introducing the Bill into the House, the Minister of Justice, the Hon Simon Power, explained that the purpose of the Bill was to provide consistency and certainty. Mr Power said that the legislation was necessary in light of technological changes.

The Prime Minister and the Speaker of the House of Representatives are granted the title “Right Honourable” for life. Refer to them in the following way:

Eg Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern (Ms Ardern on subsequent references)

Prior to 2000, high-ranking Cabinet Ministers were sometimes appointed as members of the Privy Council. The Privy Council website contains a list of the members of the Privy Council. Members of the Privy Council are also accorded the title “Right Honourable”. Refer to them in the following way:

Eg Rt Hon Helen Clark PC (Ms Clark on subsequent references)

Eg Rt Hon Paul East PC (Mr East on subsequent references)

It may be necessary to note that the person being referred to is no longer a Member of Parliament. This will depend on the context.

(c) Courts

Write court names out in full in the main text. Subsequent references may be made to “the Court”, so long as it is clear which court is being referred to.

Where a court has the same name as another court in a different jurisdiction, state which jurisdiction is being referred to, unless it is clear from the context.

When referring to courts from other jurisdictions, it may be necessary to explain where the court fits in the local judicial hierarchy. For example, the High Court of Australia is Australia’s highest court.

Where the name of a court has changed, it may be useful to state the name of the present equivalent court.

Eg The Supreme Court (now the High Court) decision in …

(d) Judges

(i) New Zealand

The following abbreviations denoting judicial office in New Zealand should be used unless context or style requires otherwise:
  • Chief Justice (CJ), for example “Elias CJ” or “Elias CJ’s view was that …”;
  • Justice of the High Court, Court of Appeal or Supreme Court (J), for example “Glazebrook J” or “Glazebrook J’s opinion …”;
  • two or more Justices (JJ), for example “O’Regan and Ellen France JJ” or “O’Regan and Ellen France JJ’s concurring opinion …”; and
  • President of the Court of Appeal (P), for example “Kós P” or “Kós P’s tenure …”.
All sitting, and former, High Court judges also enjoy the title “Hon”, but it is unnecessary to record this as it is implied in the abbreviation following their name.

If used as a substitute for “the Judge”, the correct spelling is “his Honour” or “her Honour”, not “His Honour” or “Her Honour”.

Eg Miller J

Eg Venning J, Chief High Court Judge, decided this case.

OR Venning J decided this case.

Eg Simon France J held that there was consideration. However, his Honour held that the contract had been frustrated.

District, Employment, Family and Youth Court judges are referred to in the format “Judge Brown” not “Brown DCJ”.

Eg Judge Borrin decided this case. His Honour acquitted the defendant.

The Chief Judge of the Employment Court, the Chief Judge of the District Court, the Chief Judge of the Māori Land Court, the Principal Family Court Judge, the Principal Youth Court Judge and the Principal Environment Judge should be referred to as such.

Eg Chief Judge Inglis

Chief Judge Doogue

Chief Judge Isaac

Principal Judge Ryan

Principal Judge Walker

Principal Judge Newhook

Refer to Associate Judges (formerly known as Masters) of the High Court as such; do not abbreviate their title.

Eg Master Gambrill

Eg Associate Judge Sargisson

Style retired judges who have returned to a court as acting judges as if they are permanent judges of that court. If, however, in an old report, a retired judge who returned as an acting judge was styled differently, follow the style used in that report.

Eg Anderson J (Anderson J sat from time to time as an acting judge of the Supreme Court following his retirement)

Eg Sir Gordon Bisson (Sir Gordon Bisson returned as an occasional judge to the Court of Appeal after retiring in 1992 and appears in reports from that time as “Sir Gordon Bisson”)

It is unnecessary to record that a Court of Appeal or High Court judge is a Queen’s Counsel. However, it is customary to designate a Family, Youth or District Court judge who is also a Queen’s Counsel or Senior Counsel.

Eg Judge Southwick QC

Include the first name of a judge where there are two judges with the same last name presiding in the country at the same time. There are two exceptions to this:
  • where one of the judges sits in the High Court, Court of Appeal or Supreme Court and the other sits in a lower court, as they are distinguished by the use of “J” or “Judge”; and
  • where one of the judges is a Head of Bench, as they are distinguished by the use of “Chief Judge”, “Principal Judge”, “President” (or “P”) and “Chief Justice” (or “CJ”).
If in doubt, check the Courts of New Zealand website located at <>.

Eg Ellen France J (and not France J, because there is also a Simon France J)

On a second or subsequent reference to a particular judge, he or she may thereafter be referred to either by his or her title as above or as “the Judge”, “his Honour” or “her Honour”. In the case of Heads of Bench, they may also be referred to as “the Chief Justice”, “the President”, “the Chief Judge” or “the Principal Judge”, as the case may be.
(ii) England and Wales

Supreme Court

The Justices of the Supreme Court are referred to as “Lord Sumption SCJ” or “Lady Black SCJ”, or in the plural, “Lord Sumption and Lady Black SCJJ”.

Eg Lord Kerr SCJ, with whom Lord Lloyd-Jones and Lord Wilson SCJJ agreed, upheld the Court of Appeal’s judgment.

The President and Deputy President of the Court have “P” and “DP” after their names.

Eg Lady Hale P

Eg Lord Mance DP

Omit any territorial qualification a judge may have.

Eg Lord Wilson SCJ

NOT Lord Wilson of Culworth SCJ

House of Lords

A House of Lords judge is referred to simply as “Lord Hoffmann” or “Lady Hale”, unless the judge’s rank in the peerage is higher than that of Baron or Baroness in which case the higher rank is used (for example, “Viscount Dilhorne”). There is no plural form of Lord or Lady and no abbreviated form. Omit a Law Lord’s territorial qualification unless the omission might cause ambiguity.

Eg Lord Walker

NOT Lord Walker of Gestingthorpe

Court of Appeal

Court of Appeal judges are referred to as “Lord Justice Hickinbottom” or “Lady Justice Sharp” (“Lords Justices” in the plural), abbreviated to “Sharp LJ” or “Sharp and Hickinbottom LJJ” in the plural. However, where the judge is a peer, they should be referred to simply as “Lord Denning” with no abbreviated form.

The Master of the Rolls may be abbreviated to “Sir Terence Etherton MR” (or if a peer, “Lord Denning MR”).

High Court

The name of a High Court judge may be abbreviated to “Teare J” or, in the case of multiple judges, “Parker and Ouseley JJ”.

The Chancellor of the High Court, formerly known as the Vice-Chancellor (V-C), may be abbreviated to “Sir Geoffrey Vos C”.

The Presidents of the Queen’s Bench Division and Family Division may be abbreviated to “Sir Brian Leveson P” and “Sir James Munby P”.

Lord Chief Justice

The name of the Lord Chief Justice may be abbreviated to “Lord Thomas CJ”.

Lord Chancellor

The name of the Lord Chancellor (now no longer a judge) may be abbreviated to “Baron Hailsham LC”.

Subsequent references to judges of the Supreme Court, House of Lords, Court of Appeal or High Court

On a second or subsequent reference to a particular judge, he or she may thereafter be referred to either by his or her title as above or as “the Judge”, “his Lordship” or “her Ladyship”. Do not use “his Honour” or “her Honour”. In the case of Heads of Bench, they may also be referred to as “the President”, “the Deputy President”, “the Master of the Rolls” or “the Chancellor”, as the case may be.
(iii) Australia and Canada

In some Australian states, appeal court judges are referred to as “Justice of Appeal”, abbreviated to “JA” or “JJA” in the plural. In Canada, appeal court judges are commonly referred to as “Court of Appeal Justices”, abbreviated to “JA” and “JJA” in the plural.
(iv) Other

Reference should be made to the designation used for a judge in the reported version of the case, with unnecessary punctuation removed.
(v) Extrajudicial writing

When referring in the main text to the writings of a sitting judge that are not part of a judgment, the fact that the writing is “extrajudicial” must be recorded, except where it is obvious from the context.

For guidance on citing extrajudicial writings of judges in footnotes, see rule 6.1.2(d).

Eg McGechan J, both in his judgments and in his extrajudicial role as editor of McGechan on Procedure, has made an important contribution to the law of civil procedure in New Zealand.

(vi) Judicial promotion

Where a judge has been promoted or has assumed another judicial or governmental role subsequent to the writing of a judgment, the judge ought to be given the title held at the time of that judgment, unless the office is clear from the context.

It is not generally necessary to state the fact that the judge has been promoted.

Eg Cooke J in Rutherford v Attorney-General …

Eg Cooke P in South Pacific Manufacturing …

Eg Lord Cooke in Hunter v Canary Wharf Ltd …

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 <>.

(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.

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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