How do I cite legal materials from jurisdictions outside the United States?
To cite legal materials from jurisdictions outside the United States, the MLA advises writers to consult The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation. Writers can then adapt the Bluebook’s recommendations to MLA style. For extensive guidance on how to adapt legal citations to MLA style, see our post on documenting legal works.
Let’s say you want to cite a legal decision from the Supreme Court of the Philippines, and you read the decision on the Supreme Court’s website. The digital version of the Bluebook provides a table of example citations of legal materials from jurisdictions outside the United States (“T2 Foreign Jurisdictions”). You might start by looking through the section on the Philippines in that table. There the Bluebook cites the Supreme Court decision Papertech, Inc. v. Josephine P. Katando (“T2.33 Philippines”). The following adapts that citation into MLA style:
Papertech, Inc. v. Josephine P. Katando. Supreme Court of the Philippines, 8 Jan. 2020, sc.judiciary.gov.ph/10680/.
Whereas in legal-citation style you would provide the docket number or other standard reference number, in MLA style you would not. Instead, where you read the text determines how you cite it. In this example, you are reading the decision on a website, so that is what you cite. The Supreme Court of the Philippines wrote the decision and published the text on its website. Since the author and publisher are the same, the Author element is left out and the citation begins with the italicized title of the decision. The Publisher element then follows the title along with the Date and Location elements.
“T2 Foreign Jurisdictions.” The Bluebook, www.legalbluebook.com/bluebook/v21/tables/t2-foreign-jurisdictions.
“T2.33 Philippines.” The Bluebook, www.legalbluebook.com/bluebook/v21/tables/t2-foreign-jurisdictions/t2-33-philippines.