Though the scope varies, Lexis Advance Quicklaw has case law going as far back as 1823. Case law and decisions can be filtered by:
Court Decisions (1823 - current)
Tribunal Decisions (1980 - current)
Don't forget to note-up cases (or legislation) to find other relevant case law. For more on how to use Lexis Advance Quicklaw, look to their tutorials here.
Though the scope varies, Westlaw Canada has case law going as far back into the 1820s. Case law and decisions can be filtered by:
Cases and Decisions
Don't forget to note-up cases (or legislation) to find other relevant case law. For more on how to use Westlaw Canada look to their tutorials here.
Also look to the Canadian Abridgement Digest which has been integrated into Westlaw Canada and contains over 850,000 case digests or summaries of issues decided by the Canadian courts and administrative tribunals from the early 1800s to the present. Search for case law by area of law across all Canadian jurisdictions.Subject titles are alphabetically arranged and then further broken down into up to six levels of heading and subheading.
Though the scope varies, CanLII has case law going as far back into the 1830s, and is publicly available for free. Case law and decisions can be filtered by:
Don't forget that you can also note-up cases on CanLII. For more on how to use CanLII look to their help page here.
While performing keyword searches on such platforms as Lexis Advance Quicklaw and Westlaw Canada has become the popular go-to when beginning a search, this method may actually be creating more work rather than reducing it. Secondary sources like texts, loose-leafs and encyclopedias are created by authors who are usually experts in their field who have taken their time to gather and curate case law that corresponds to the associated commentary. In other words: much of the work has already been done for you (by experts no less)!
Below, we have outlined the benefits to various secondary materials and have provided some examples. For more information on the use of secondary resources, look to our blog posts Legal Research Survival Guide, Part 2 – Just browsing… and Nobody Knows Everything.
Not only do texts and loose-leafs have citing cases to commentary, they also have helpful tools like tables of cases as well as browsable table of contents and indices which can help identify effective and tailored key words and terminology.
Canadian Encyclopedic Digest
- Provides commentary and citations to relevant legislation and case law. Available in print and on Westlaw Canada.
Halsbury's Laws of Canada
- Provides commentary and citations to relevant legislation and case law. Available in print and on Lexis Advance Quicklaw.
While a lot of case law can be found online, there are still those cases that are only available in print. Can't find a case? Ask the staff at the Great Library - it might be hiding in one of our many physical volumes.
When searching for case law, it is important to understand what those letters and numbers in the citation mean, especially since they help to indicate the reporter or jurisdiction the case is from.
The Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations database, produced by UK's Cardiff University, allows you to search for the meaning of abbreviations for English language legal publications, both nationally and internationally. The database mainly covers law reports and law periodicals but some other legal publications are also included.
The effective use of boolean connectors in any search can be a real boon to the thorough researcher. However, creating the best keyword search takes some practice, and can vary across platforms as different research databases use different Boolean connectors. For a quick review on how to make your keyword formula just right, look to our blog post Make Your Keyword Search Just Right. Additionally, look to our post Yes, the Words are Important! for some tips on how to identify and apply the most effective keywords possible for a search.