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Research 101: How to Note-Up Statutes and Regulations


Noting up legislation, sometimes referred to as "finding judicial consideration" of a statute or regulation, is the process of finding cases that have applied or discussed a particular statute, regulation, or a section of either.

Finding case law is crucial to interpreting the legislation relevant to your research problem. Courts can clarify or extend the meaning of a provision and may also strike down an act, in whole or in part, as being unconstitutional.

Historical Versions

If you need find cases decided under earlier versions of a statute or regulation, keep in mind that the section(s) you are researching may have had different section number(s) in the past. Section numbers can change from revision to revision. Ask Us! for help to determine which historical version you might require.

Sources used to note-up statutes and regulations

For the most thorough search, consult both WestlawNext Canada and Lexis+™ Canada. Each source uses slightly different terminology for identifying the depth of treatment of the legislation in the case cited. Cases may analyze and interpret the legislation, may mention the legislation but not analyze it, may note that a proceeding was undertaken pursuant to a section of the legislation, or may note that the legislation in whole or part was declared unconstitutional.

a) KeyCite (on WestlawNext Canada)

For instructions on how to use KeyCite, read WestlawNext Canada's free online guide KeyCiting Cases and Legislation.


b) QuickCITE (on Lexis+™ Canada)

For instructions on how to use QuickCITE, watch Lexis+™ Canada's free online tutorial Noting up Legislation.

c) Full-text searching

If you are unable to find cases interpreting the provisions of a statute or regulation using KeyCite or QuickCITE, a search in a database of full-text of cases, such as WestlawNext Canada, Lexis+™ Canada, or CanLII may possibly yield results. This strategy could also be used when referencing digital secondary sources like eBooks. 

  1. Select a case law database for the jurisdiction of the statute or regulation you are researching.
  2. Run a search using the name of the statute or regulation and section number as search terms. Although the exact search syntax will differ slightly depending on the source you use, generally you should search for the short title of your act as a phrase in close proximity to the section number you are noting up.

As an example, "Ontario Heritage Act" /s 34 will retrieve cases in which the name of the act and the number 34 are found in the same sentence.

If you need to narrow your results, you can add a keyword to the search string, e.g., for the subsections of section 34 of the Ontario Heritage Act that deal with demolition, use the following: "Ontario Heritage Act" /s 34 & demolition.

d) Tables

Some secondary resources like texts and loose-leafs contain tables of legislation, usually found near the beginning of the item. These tables match the sections of a featured piece of legislation to the corresponding section in the text/loose-leaf that provides related commentary. Tables of legislation function much the same as tables of cases, and while are not as common as the latter, are an invaluable tool when available.