Formatting a Law Dissertation Harvard Style

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Different subjects and areas of study usually follow different methods of referencing and formatting. If you have a law dissertation to format, you’re Department or University may require using the Harvard style of referencing.

In the Harvard style of referencing, you are required to follow a certain format which will enable your readers to immediately trace the source of the case studies or factual information you are referring to. If you format and reference your dissertation properly, you also avoid the charge of plagiarism.

When you are formatting and referencing your dissertation, you will usually make both in-text citations and also provide a more detailed listing of sources at the end of you dissertation.

According to the Harvard style, for in-text citations using general sources you can mention (Author Date). However, cases and legislations tend to follow different rules. The first time you are mentioning a case, make sure to refer to it with its full title, the names of the parties involved, as well as the law citation report. For instance, Central London Property Trust Ltd v High Trees House Ltd [1947] KB 130 If you are mentioning the case subsequently, it will suffice to mention just the first party names. In case you are referring to a particular page or paragraph, you can include this after the reference. For instance: Pepper (Inspector of Taxes) v Hart [1993] AC 593, 594.

In the event, you are quoting directly from a judgment, you place in the quote in double quotes (“ “) and shorten the quote by placing pauses (...) For instance: This point was reinforced in the judgment of Diplock LJ in Hong Kong Fir Shipping Co Ltd v Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd [1962] 2 QB 26, 70 when he said “There are many… contractual undertakings… which cannot be categorised as being ‘conditions’.” In case you are referring to a case from a textbook, then it is to be treated as a secondary reference. Usually, it would be better for you to look up legal cases and make a reference to a law report. For textbook references, see the following example: Smith v Jones [2001] EWCA 1425 (cited in Murphy 2007, p.4)

You will also be referring to legislations in your dissertation. The name and the date of legislation should be in italics. Mention the SI number for Statutory Instruments. If you are mentioning this again, you can merely refer to the Act/Sis by the short title and year. You could also be referring to parts of legislation, sections (s. or ss.) of Acts, parts (pt), schedules (sch) and paragraphs (para).

Statutory instruments contain rules (r. pr rr), articles (art.) or regulations (reg or regs), paragraphs, as well as sub-paragraphs.

Here is an example:

Environment Act 1995

Insolvency Rules 1986 (SI 1986/925)

Environment Act 1995, ss.5-11, 14(1)(b)

Public Supply Contracts Regulations 1992 (SI 1992/3279) r.15(2)(b)(i)

References at the end of the text will need to follow a different format, usually containing far more detail such as the publishing house (if relevant), place of publication etc.