OSCOLA is the Oxford Standard for Citation Of Legal Authorities. It is widely used in law schools and by journal and book publishers in the UK and beyond.
The introduction to the new fourth edition of OSCOLA claims there are two golden rules for the citation of legal authorities: the first is consistency, and the second is consideration for the reader. This updated guide is is designed to facilitate accurate citation of authorities, legislation, and other legal materials.
"OSCOLA was first devised by Professor Peter Birks in 2000, in consultation with law students and faculty at Oxford University, and with Oxford University Press and Hart Publishing. It is used by the Oxford University Commonwealth Law Journal, and the editors of that journal have also played an important role in its development. Subsequent editions of OSCOLA were produced in 2002 (by Professor Birks) and in 2004 (revised 2006, both by Timothy Endicott and Sandra Meredith). This latest revision of OSCOLA provides more detailed coverage of domestic legal sources, and in particular the treatment of Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish sources has been considerably expanded."
The new guide is also licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License. This makes life much easier for adding the guide (or parts thereof) to programme or module handbooks, VLEs or even printing and distributing the guide to students.
The license permits copying and distribution, but also permits the creation of derivatives subject to:
Attribution — You must give the original author credit.
Non-Commercial — You may not use this work for commercial purposes.
Share Alike — If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a licence identical to this one.
This would allow law schools to derive their own referencing guide with some deviation from the Oxford Standard if required. It would also allow other jurisdictions to tailor a similar guide with more appropriate examples or allowing for whatever variations may exist in the citation of cases or legislation.
There is also a Quick Reference Guide for key reference types and the section on citing international sources from the 2006 edition of OSCOLA is available as a separate document: OSCOLA 2006: Citing International Law.
I also find OSCOLA a great help for non-law students. For example, my forensic psychology students must use their own subject-based referencing system (APA - American Psychological Association, which is similar to the Harvard method) but this guide illustrates how to reference a case, give pinpoints to quotes and a general appreciation of how cases are reported.
An online tutorial (Citing the Law using OSCOLA) is also available from Cardiff University and a link is given from the Oxford website. Their Activity: Putting it all together is a great tool for testing students (and staff, I'm sure!)