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A Proposed Standard for the Uniform Abbreviation of Privy Council Jurisdictions

The Problem

The case-law of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (jcpc) is immensely important not only as the binding apex court decisions of a number of different jurisdictions, but also as a persuasive expounding of the common law principles which bind together the family of jurisdictions in the Commonwealth of Nations. In this way, they are often as important and as persuasive as decisions of the House of Lords/Supreme Court (and that is before considering the substantial if often overlooked

However, while the Law Reports have a long accepted practice of distinguishing where House of Lords/ Supreme Court cases originate—eg, the header for the case reported at [2014] AC 1115 reads R (Osborn) v Parole Board (SC(E & NI))1—there is no such practice for the Privy Council, despite the fact that there are enormous differences between jurisdictions, and for research, quickly knowing the origin of a case is crucial. Consider, eg, the case reported at [2020] AC 1111, whose heading reads Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken AB v Conway (PC). The PC tag at the end is helpful inasmuch as it tells us the court,2 but completely unhelpful in that it entirely withholds any information as to jurisdiction! This is frustrating, especially because at least there are legal frameworks the Home Nations subject to the Supreme Court have in common (such as immigration law), but each jurisdiction for which the Privy Council is (in effect) the highest court has its own constitutional and legislative framework which has a substantial effect on how a case is decided. For example, the case noted above originated in the Cayman Islands, which is very relevant to understanding how persuasive it is as an authority on insolvency.

The Proposed Partial Solution

I therefore propose a common standard, that will allow for uniform, quick, space efficient indication of provenance for Privy Council, and avoid the creation of mutually exclusive systems of ad hoc acronyms. My proposed solution here is only partial, because it is limited to the jurisdictions currently under the purview of the Judicial Committee. The history of decolonisation means that there are many significant bodies of case law (such as from Canada or New Zealand or Hong Kong, or indeed, prior to the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, Scotland) which are still (with good reason) regularly cited. However, collating all jurisdictions appealing to the Privy Council from the 1833 Act to the present is a monumental task which your correspondent must reserve to the future.

Two overriding objectives governed the choice of letters: recognisability and brevity. For the latter purpose, no abbreviated form was allowed to exceed three letters, and for the former, your correspondent deviated often from the iso standard on three-letter names to ensure that a casual reader could quickly identify the jurisdiction of origin. In many cases, your correspondent made his best efforts, but as always in this publication where authority cannot be cited, these propositions are here to spur discussion rather than as fiat proclamations.

Following initial consultation, via this post and other media, the ultimate goal will be to submit this to various law-reporting bodies, and to the Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations. However, before then, the goal shall be to solicit as much input as possible, particularly from practitioners in jurisdictions where appeals lie Privy Council.

The text of the guide below is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons cc-by-sa licence.



United Kingdom Appeals

Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons Vet
Appeals against Church Commissioners under the Pastoral Measure 1983, appeals from the Arches Court of Canterbury & the Chancery Court of York Ecc
disputes under the House of Commons Disqualification Act Parl
Prize court appeals Prz
appeals from the Court of Admiralty of the Cinque Ports Adm
appeals from the High Court of Chivalry Chv
references under section 4 of the Judicial Committee Act 1833 Ref

Crown Dependencies

Jersey Jer
Guernsey Gny
Isle of Man IoM

Commonwealth Realms

Antigua & Barbuda A&B
The Bahamas Bah
Cook Islands Ck
Niue Niu
Grenada Grd
Jamaica Jam
St Kitts & Nevis K&N
Saint Lucia Luc
Saint Vincent & the Grenadines Vin
Tuvalu Tuv

Commonwealth Republics

Trinidad & Tobago T&T
Kiribati Kir
Mauritius Mrc

Overseas Territories and Sovereign Base Appeals

Anguilla Ang
Akrotiri Akt
Bermuda Bda
British Antarctic Territory BAT
British Indian Ocean Territory IOT
British Virgin Islands BVI
Cayman Islands Cay
Dhekelia Dhk
Falkland Islands FI
Gibraltar Gib
Montserrat Mnt
Pitcairn Islands Pit
St Helena, Ascension & Tristan da Cunha StH
Turks & Caicos Islands T&C

  1. Yes, the double parentheses are quite ugly, but that is a matter for a different time and post.↩︎

  2. Whether or not the Judicial Committee can technically be described as a ‘court’ is exactly the sort of pedantic point in which your correspondent relishes, but, for these purpose, it is the most convenient term.↩︎