Legal Research Guide

Revised and updated by Vicki Jay Leung, Reference Librarian, UWindsor Law Library (August 7, 2015)
Legal Research Gateway

Table of Contents

I Legal Research

IV Ontario Legislation

II Secondary Legal Research

V Case Law

III Canadian Federal Legislation

VI Backdating: Tracking Federal Legislative History

I Legal Research

Overview

Legal research is a lifelong skill most law students will carry with them into their practice as lawyers, and is an intricate skillset that is based on legal sources and legal finding tools that are outlined in this guide. This guide is intended for Windsor Law students, and UWindsor students and faculty from non-law disciplines who are starting their academic research in the area of law.  The guide is divided according to legal research areas that highlight the sources of law of interest to researchers. This guide is not intended to replace legal counsel or expertise for those seeking self-representation.  If additional research help is required, do not hesitate in contacting one of your Reference Librarians in the Paul Martin Law Library during normal business hours or by emailing us at lawreference@uwindsor.ca.

Commercial Legal Information Systems

In this guide the terms commercial legal information systems, legal research services, and legal research engines will be used interchangeably, and refer to online subscriptions to legal resources that the law library offers to its users or has restricted academic access to.

Windsor Law students and faculty have individual log in access to WestlawNext Canada and LexisNexis Quicklaw for scholarly purposes, as stipulated by our academic licensing agreements. These commercial legal information systems have unique interactive interfaces that allow users to connect to secondary and primary legal sources and research tools.

The rest of the University of Windsor campus has access to LexisNexis Quicklaw (for Canadian content) and LexisNexis Academic (for American content) on designated computer terminals located within the law library – ask a reference librarian for access to the password protected account.

Another resource the law library has for Windsor Law faculty and students is CCHOnline.

Other subscriptions that the law library pays for are available on-campus through the law library website.  Off-campus, UWindsor users will be prompted for their unique UWin ID and password to gain access to our proxy server.  Products from the Paul Martin Law Library include HeinOnline, LegalTrac, Kluwer Law Online Journals, and AGIS Plus, and will be discussed in more detail further in the extended guide.  An extensive list of All Law Products and descriptions can be viewed on, and accessed from the law library website.
 

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II Secondary Legal Research

Introduction

Start with secondary legal sources when you are researching for an essay or just starting your legal research.  Secondary legal sources are written by legal experts who write about the law, and come in the form of legal encyclopaedias, legal dictionaries, textbooks or treatises, and journal articles. Secondary sources are useful, not only in providing information about your legal topic, but also in giving you foototes to important legislation and case law.

Legal Encyclopaedias

Legal encyclopaedias contain brief articles arranged in alphabetical order by legal topic. Use the print index guide to find references to relevant sections on your legal topic found in the main volume set.

There are two Canadian legal encyclopaedias:

Encyclopaedia

Call Number

Online Access

Help Guides

Canadian Encyclopaedic Digest (CED)

CAN XC 190 .O95 C2 on reserve

WestlawNext Canada

View video demo

Halsbury’s Laws of Canada

CAN XC 190 .O95 A2 on reserve

LexisNexis Quicklaw

View video demo

Legal Dictionaries

Legal dictionaries are used to look up legal definitions to get a better understanding of passages written in judgements or legal texts.  Citations to primary sources of law are also included, to add depth to the definition or understanding of the legal term or phrase.

Some examples of legal dictionaries include:

Dictionary Title

Description

Call Number

Online Access

Baron’s Canadian Law Dictionary

A comprehensive dictionary of terms and phrases applicable in Canadian law

REF K156 .Y65 2009

LexisNexis Quicklaw

Words and Phrases (judicially considered)

Legal resource of judicial interpretations from all areas of law; part of the Canadian Abridgement suite of products

REF LAW 156 .W67 1993

WestlawNext Canada

Black’s Law Dictionary

A widely cited American law dictionary in the world

TXT Law 156 .B5J 2014

WestlawNext Canada

The Dictionary of Canadian Law

A reference created exclusively from Canadian legal sources

QREF KF156 .D85 2011

 

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Legal Text Books (library catalogue search)

Look up book and journal titles in the UWindsor online library catalogue, a shared catalogue between the Law and Leddy libraries.  (view demo)

Tip: Sometimes professors will ask students to find a treatise on a specific legal topic. What is a “treatise”? Treatises are seminal books or textbooks written on legal topic.  (Not to be confused with “treaties” – which are agreements made by countries.)

Concept Maps

Start your search by conceptualizing about the kind of information you are looking for by brainstorming first. Ask yourself – What is my legal topic? What are some ways to describe my topic? How broad or narrow can I go in defining my topic? Does jurisdiction matter?  Now write it all down on a scrap paper or type it in a word file so you can keep track of your searches. Next, familiarize yourself with the Boolean Operators and Connectors to make your search string more efficient. Abandon unsuccessful searches; build upon searches that produced good results.

If you are unable to find a book on your subject in our library collection, we encourage you to expand your search to find titles in other library catalogues, such as the University of Toronto Law Library and Harvard Law Library.  Another collection we recommend searching is WorldCat – a union catalogue that allows you to simultaneously search over 60,000 library catalogues at one time.  Our site license allows for only two users at once, and can be located through the Leddy Library website. (view demo)

For UWindsor Law students and faculty, we can request titles through interlibrary loans from a library that carries the title you want to borrow.  Allow for 2 weeks between submitting your request and receiving the physical item – keep this in mind when working with deadlines for papers. If you are a non-law student or faculty member, please send your request to Leddy library.  Lawyers need to send requests to the Essex Law Association Library.  Public members must send requests through the Windsor Public Library.

Our library catalogue also gives you the option to search for journal articles through a one stop search.  However, many of our legal journals are not included in this search due to licensing restrictions.  To conduct a comprehensive article search, you will still need to search each of our online legal search engines separately.

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Legal Indices

What is a legal index? A legal index is a research tool to help you find articles related by subject heading, author, case law or legislation.   Editors compile article entries by scouring legal journals published in a given geographical jurisdiction or selected according to a set criteria, and organize each entry by a predefined legal subject heading, name of author(s), and by the predominate laws written within the article.  Legal indices do not provide the full text of articles, instead only giving you the citation of the article.   The power in legal indices lies in the sheer number of articles that are included. With the citation in hand, you can then track down the article. On the other hand, online full text databases have a limited number of articles included, meaning that some articles will be missed in searches, which can be a concern when the legal topic is new or has few articles written about it.

If you are accessing a legal index through a commercial legal information system, you will be able to link to some full text articles, but not all. Please refer to Legal Journal Articles below for steps to find articles when you have citations.

Tip: If a professor asks you to find a case comment, look one up using a legal index. Search by the case name to find out what articles or case comments have been written about it. Case comments are also known as case briefs, which provides the history and an analysis of a particular case.

Index

Description

Availability

Help Guides

Index to Canadian Legal Literature

Premiere index for Canadian legal periodicals and books

WestlawNext Canada

LexisNexis Quicklaw

WestlawNext Canada, pp. 64-79

LexisNexis Quicklaw

View Demo

LegalTrac

Index of over 1,500 law reviews, legal newspapers, speciality publications, Bar Association journals and international legal journals, including over 250 full text titles

Online via Gale or Current Law Index (print)

Gale Group

Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals

Index of European, Asian and African legal periodicals

Online via HeinOnline

HeinOnline

Current Index to Legal Periodicals

Current awareness tool developed and maintained by the Marian Gould Gallagher Law Library, University of Washington – based on speciality law topics

Online via HeinOnline’s Law Journal Library

HeinOnline

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Secondary Citations

Canadian legal citations follow the Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation, 8th ed. (Toronto: Carswell, 2014), commonly referred to the “McGill Guide”, it is the standard style that most legal publishers and legal institutions in Canada follow. The law library carries the latest edition on reserve at call no. KF 245 .P761 2014; older editions can be found in the main stacks.

Note: other law schools in Canada also refer to an online legal citation guide arranged by UBC.

Legal Books – General pattern:
Author, title, edition (place of publication: publisher, year of publication) pinpoint (electronic service).

example
H Patrick Glenn. Legal Traditions of the World (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000).

Legal Journal Articles – General pattern:
Author, “title of article” (year) volume:issue abbreviation of journal page pinpoint (electronic service).

example
John Burrows, “Creating an Indigenous Legal Community” (2005) 50:1 McGill LJ 153 at 155 (QL).

Note: please refer to the McGill Guide for variations of secondary legal citations that consist of editors, multiple authors, volumes, loose-leafs, etc.

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Legal Abbreviations

Legal abbreviations are used to shorten legal periodical titles, such as case reporters and journals. If you find a citation to a promising case or article, but you are not sure of what the reporter or journal’s full title is – look it up in a legal abbreviation listing or dictionary.

Legal Resource

Legal Abbreviation Lists

Availability

McGill Guide

Appendices of abbreviations in the back of the publication

Call nos. KF245 .P761 range

Index to Canadian Legal Literature

Table of legal abbreviations or list of periodicals indexed

Call no. KF8 .S34 & free online from WestlawNext Canada

 

Legal Abbreviation Dictionary

Availability

Bieber’s Dictionary of Legal Abbreviations

Call no. KF246 .B46 2009

Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations

online

Duhaime’s Legal Citations & Abbreviations Guide

online

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Legal Journal Articles

Find an article through a legal index or in another secondary legal source that leads you to the article’s citation, or by doing a full text online search on a commercial legal information system, such as HeinOnline, LexisNexis Quicklaw or WestlawNext Canada.

Legal Citations

You can find article citations through legal indices or from the bibliographies and footnotes of other secondary legal sources you come across. Once you have a citation:

  1. Decipher or find out what is the full title of the abbreviated legal journal through a legal abbreviation list or dictionary.
  2. Find out where the journal can be found by browsing an alphabetical list from the University of Toronto’s “Database of Law Journals Available Electronically and at the Bora Laskin Law Library.” As a tool, it can help to direct UWindsor users to resources that we have here at the law library.
    1. If the law title is available electronically, make sure that the commercial legal information system has coverage for the date of the article. To see if we carry the legal information system, look it up on our All Law Products page.
    2. Please note, on rare occasions an article will only be available in print. Look up the journal title in our online library catalogue.
  3. Alternatively, you can look up the journal title from the University’s online catalogue.
    1. Click on “Journal List” to view an alphabetical listing of all print and electronic journals held by both the Leddy and Law Libraries.
    2. Please note, this list will not pick up law titles held in LexisNexis Quicklaw or WestlawNext Canada – so these systems will need to be checked separately from this search.
  4. If we do not have it, we can request it through inter library loans for you.

(view video)

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Full text Searching

Another way to search for full text legal journal articles is by searching commercial legal information systems. To make efficient use of your time, it is not recommended to start your search with this strategy unless you are familiar with the keywords and authors in the field you are researching in. This is especially important when you are using legal research services such as LexisNexis Quicklaw or WestlawNext Canada, where you can incur charges for every search you make outside an academic institution.  While attending Windsor Law, students have complimentary academic access to both services. With this in mind, law students are encouraged to familiarize themselves with these services so that they will become proficient users before they graduate from law school.

Tip: Start your secondary search with books, and read up on the topic to build up your legal vocabulary. Keep notes on variations of describing a legal area by keywords or phrases.

Before you search a legal information system, keep track of your searches by using the same search strategy employed in searching online library catalogues.

Legal Information Systems and Online Database Subscriptions:

Online Legal Information System

Description

Help Guides

LexisNexis Quicklaw

Canada, United States, International – Primary & Secondary Legal Material

Demos and “Tips & Tricks” videos

WestlawNext Canada

Canada, United States, International, United Kingdom – Primary & Secondary Legal Material

User Guides, Tutorials & Training

CCHOnline

 

 

Heinonline

Canada, United States, International – Primary & Secondary Legal Material

HeinOnline Help & Support

LegalTrac

United States (limited full text of law magazine articles) – Secondary Legal Material

LegalTrac Subject Guide Help

Kluwer Law Online Journals

International law, European Union – Secondary Legal Material

Kluwer Law Online Help

AGIS Plus

Australia – Secondary Legal Material

Informit Tutorials, How to Guides, and Help

Additional Law Products

 

 

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III Canadian Federal Legislation

Introduction

In Canada, laws can be made by the federal Parliament, or by the provincial legislatures. Sections 91 and 92 of Canada's Constitution Act, 1867 dictates the subject matters which may be legislated by each level of government.  At the federal level, a law begins by the introduction of either a public bill, introduced by the government or in the Senate, or a private member's bill, introduced by any individual Member of Parliament.  Bills sponsored by the Government are numbered from C-1 to C-200 in order of presentation. If they are introduced first in the Senate, they are numbered sequentially starting with S-1.

For detailed information on the legislation making process, please refer to the Making Canada’s Laws site from the Parliament of Canada.

Federal Bills

For any bill to become law in Canada, it must pass through several stages.  These include:

  • First Reading - Bill is introduced
  • Second Reading - Where much of the debate happens
  • Committee Stage - Sent to a Committee for consideration
  • Report Stage - Committee reports back to the House with any suggested amendments
  • Third Reading – Bill put to a final vote

Once a bill has been read and passed 3 times in the House of Commons, it is sent to the Senate for its consideration where it must also be read and passed 3 times. 

To understand the full-text of a bill for a recent parliamentary session, visit LEGISinfo. This site will not only provide you with the full-text of the bill, but also major speeches in parliament about the bill, the status of the bill, a legislative summary, Member's votes on the bill, as well as coming into force information. Historical Bills 1st Reading (XC 184 .3 .H8 211) and Bills as Passed (XC 184 .3 .H8 213) can be found in the law library in printed bound volumes. Note: the federal government has ceased the print publication of both texts in 2012.

To read the legislative intent of the bill, find the Hansard Debates of the House of Commons (XC 184 .3 .H8 .24) and Senate (XC 184.3 .S4 .24) to find out what members of the houses said about the contents of the bill, and the Committee Reports (search library catalogue by committee name or search the federal government website for the committee’s reports) which outline the findings and recommendations for changes in the bill. Note: the federal government has ceased the print publication of both texts in 2012 – to view later debates you need to go online to LEGISinfo

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Hansard Debate

Coverage

Source

House of Commons

Jan. 17 1994 - present

Parliament of Canada

House of Commons

1867 - 1993

Canadian Parliamentary Historical Resources

Senate

Feb. 27 1996 - present

Parliament of Canada

Senate

1867 - 1996

Canadian Parliamentary Historical Resources

 

  • Royal Assent - If the Bill is passed in both Houses, it is presented to the Governor General for assent.  The Governor General may assent to the Bill in the Queen's name, withhold assent or reserve assent. When the Bill is given Royal Assent it becomes law, and can be called an Act or Statute. The date of assent is at the top of the enactment.

Federal Acts or Statutes

Acts refer to enacted bills, while statutes refer to the written laws. Generally, Acts and statutes can be used interchangeably when referring to legislatively passed laws.  It is important to note that many statutes that are passed by the government merely contain lists of amendments to other statutes.  The annual Statutes of Canada contain both new Acts about substantive matters, as well as statutes whose function is largely to amend other Acts.

Federal Legislation Resource

Description

Charge

Canada Gazette Part III: Acts of Parliament

Once a bill has passed the third readings of both the House of Commons and Senate it becomes law, and is printed in the Gazette (XC 185 .21). The law library keeps the Canada Gazette Part III issues until the annual SC volume for that year is published.

 

Statutes of Canada (SC)

The statutes included in the volumes (XC 185 .2) are those passed (but not necessarily in force) through to the end of the calendar year.  Any new statutes passed after December 31st will be found in the next annual statute volume.  Normally the latest Statute volume will not be published for several months (even taking as long as a couple of years). This is an official government publication.

 

Justice Laws

Official online government source, as granted in the Legislation Revision and Consolidation Act (formerly Statute Revision Act), RSC, 1985, c S-20, s 31.

- contains both Consolidated Legislation (updated Acts and regulation with amendments incorporated into the text) and Annual Statutes (original enacted Public General Acts, including new Acts and amending Acts).

Free

Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII)

Unofficial legal information website managed by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada. CanLII's goal is to make Canadian law accessible for free on the Internet.

Free

LexisNexis Quicklaw

Commercial legal information system comprised of research tools and legal content

Fee-based

WestlawNext Canada

Commercial legal information system providing legal information tools and resources

Fee-based

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Primary Citations: Statutes of Canada & Revised Statutes of Canada

When an Act is published in the Statutes of Canada, the Act is given a chapter number.  All statutes can be located if you know the year of the annual statute volume and the chapter number of the Act.  The Act is also divided into parts and sections and may have schedules attached at the end. The Statute’s citation remains the same from print to electronic format, with amendments incorporated into the consolidated online version.

A statute citation looks like this:

               Extradition Act, SC 1999, c 18, s 2.

               This means that the Extradition Act can be found in the Statutes of Canada 1999 volume at chapter 18.  The pinpoint or section referred to in this cite is section 2.

Revised Statutes of Canada

Historically, approximately every 15 years, substantive Canadian statutes were combined with all of their amendments and compiled into one text. This publication is the Revised Statutes of Canada (RSC). The RSC 1985 (XC 185 1985) is the most recent consolidation available. Amendments which were passed while the revision was being compiled (1985-1989) were published in the appendix volumes found at the end of the Revised Statutes of Canada. If you are citing a statute which has been included in the Revised Statutes of Canada, you will not cite to the Statutes of Canada, but to the RSC instead.

Note that once statutes are included in the RSC, their original chapter number may be changed, and they are entered in alphabetical order with a chapter number and letter. The past texts of the statute which appeared in either the RSC or SC, are replaced by the current RSC.(Revised Statutes of Canada, 1985 Act, RSC 1985, c 40 (3rd Supp)).

If a statute was included or printed in the RSC 1985, it adopts the RSC citation format, and carries the RSC citation format into the consolidated online version with amendments incorporated.

Citation example:
Interpretation Act, RSC 1985, c I-21, s 2.

This includes the citation to the Act itself in the RSC plus citations to later statutes which amended section 2 and appeared in the Statutes of Canada.

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Coming into Force (CIF) - Federal Acts

Remember, once a bill is enacted, it still needs to go through one more stage for the law to take effect:

  • Coming into Force (CIF) - The Act comes into force upon Royal Assent, or when it is proclaimed by the Governor General, or on a day specified in the act.  Different sections may come into force at different times. Refer to the Commencement Clause to find out the details, if it is silent commencement falls on the date of assent as stated in the current Interpretation Act (RSC, 1985, c I-21, ss 5-6).

Tip: remember to refer to the version of the Interpretation Act that was in force at the time of the enactment of the Act or Statute that you are referring to, as the CIF provisions have changed over the years.

Proclamations are special government orders called statutory instruments (SI), to let society know that an Act or section of an Act has come into force. Statutory instruments are published in the Canada Gazette, Part II (XC 188 .1 .C141).  Note, the Canada Gazette Parts I and II are no longer in print, as of April 1, 2014.  To view the latest publications, please go to the online version of the Canada Gazette.

To find out whether an Act, amendment or section has come into force, use the Table of Public Statutes and Responsible Ministers on the Justice Laws Website for the most up to date version. Please note that the Table of Public Statutes is printed in the back of each Statutes of Canada (XC 185 .2) volume in yellow; and was printed in an updated quarterly publication until December 31, 2012 (XC 185 .211). The Table is organized in alphabetical order by name of the Act. Under each Act, the last items listed are the CIF references which look like this:

Example:  CIF, 1993, c 44, s 51 in force 01.01.94 see SI/94-I

This tells you that section 51 of the Act that appears in the 1993 annual Statutes of Canada at Chapter 44, came into force on 01.01.94.  For the full-text of the Statutory Instrument (SI) which brought this section into force, you are directed to SI/94-1, which would appear in the 1994 Canada Gazette Part II (XC 188 .1 .C141)  at citation number SI/94-1.

Also, at the back of each volume of the Statutes of Canada, are yellow pages titled Proclamations of Canada and Orders in Council Relating to the Coming into Force of Acts that provides the statute, relevant sections, coming into force date, SI number and citation to the Canada Gazette Part II.

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Other sources for finding out the status of a bill and whether an Act is in force include:

Legal Research Finding Tool

Availability

Canadian Legislative Index

XC 184 .3 .H8 216; discontinued June 30, 2010

Canadian Current Law - Legislation

XC 185 .65

Canada Statute Citator

XC 185 .22

CCH Legislative Pulse (online)

not subscribed to by Paul Martin Law Library

Amendments to Federal Statutes

To see whether any federal statute has been amended, you need go to the Table of Public Statutes (XC 185 .211) available online through Justice Laws. The Table is organized in alphabetical order by name of the Act. For each Act, the citation to the Act is provided, as well as citations to laws which have amended the Act.

Example:
Extradition Act --1999, c18. s2, 2000, c24, s 47; 2002, c 7, s 169.

The information provided above is as follows:  The Extradition Act, which was originally published in the 1999 Statutes of Canada at chapter 18, has been amended.  Section 2 of the Act was amended twice.  To see the first Act that amended section 2, look in the 2000 S.C. at chapter 24, section 47.  To see the second Act that amended section 2, look in the 2002 S.C. at chapter 7, section 169.   To see what section 2 of the Act looks like today, you must read all three of these sections together.  Also, don't forget to check whether each of these three sections have come into force.  See the Coming Into Force description provided above for help.

Another unofficial source for lists of statute amendments is the Canada Statute Citator (XC 185 .22).

You should also note that LexisNexis Quicklaw and WestlawNext Canada both maintain databases which allow you to view current versions of Canadian federal and provincial statutes with all of their amendments integrated in the text (including very current amendments).  In these online versions, if a section of an Act has been amended, it is immediately followed by a citation to the amending Act.  Quicklaw also has a point-in-time feature which allows you to look at an Act as it appeared on a specific date.

For example: if a person was injured in an automobile accident in 1999, the lawyer might need to argue on the basis of the law that governed on that date - meaning the statute as consolidated in 1985 plus any amendments until 1999, but not including amendments that occurred after 1999.)

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Federal Regulations

Legislation is composed of statutes that have passed through the legislative process and regulations that are issued by an executive branch of government. Regulations are made pursuant to an enabling statute; and are given legal authority by that statute. Regulations exist to support the mandate of their enabling act.

Regulations are created by committees that are administered, or under the responsibility, of ministries who oversee the enabling statute. Like statutes, regulations can be amended by other regulations.

Regulations are first printed in the Canada Gazette, Part II – and fall under the category Statutory Orders and Regulations (SOR). Historically, like revised statutes, regulations were consolidated in publications called the Consolidated Regulations of Canada (CRC). The CRC became a legal resource by incorporating amendments to main regulations into one publication for ease of looking up without having to consult extra volumes of the Canada Gazette, Part II. The last CRC publication was in 1978.

Regulations are also available online. On the Canada Gazette website, you can read the original regulation or amending regulation in its entirety. On Justice Laws, you can view the consolidated regulation (or main regulation with all of its amendments incorporated). If you are not sure of the regulation name, you can also look it up by the enabling statute.

You can also view regulations on legal research systems such as CanLII, LexisNexis Quicklaw, and WestlawNext Canada which allow you to also note up the regulation to find cases that have judicially considered it.

 

Regulation Resource

Information

Availability

Canada Gazette, Part II

First publication; track regulation amendments

Online;  XC 188 .1 .C141

Justice Laws

Consolidated Regulations, official, online

Online

CanLII

Consolidated regulations; unofficial; can link to citing cases

Online

Consolidated Regulations of Canada, 1978

Consolidated regulations, official, in print

XC 188 .1 C14 1978

Canadian Current Law - Legislation:  Regulations

Tracks regulation amendments

XC 185 .65

LexisNexis Quicklaw

Current amendments incorporated in text

Online

WestlawNext Canada

Current amendments incorporated in text

Online

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Primary Citation: Federal Regulations

General Pattern:
Title (optional), SOR/year-regulation number, pinpoint.

               examples
               Offset of Taxes by a Refund or a rebate (GST/HST) Regulations,
SOR/91-49, s 4.
               Canadian Aviation Security Regulations, SOR/2000-111, s 4.

Consolidated Regulations Pattern:
Title, CRC, chapter, pinpoint (year) (optional).

example
Migratory Birds Regulations
, CRC, c 1035 s 4 (1978).        

IV Ontario Legislation

Introduction

In the Province of Ontario, a law is created by introducing a public bill or private bill.  Both can be introduced by a cabinet minister’s government bill, or a private member's bill. The content of a public bill concerns society’s needs or national interests; while a private bill only deals with individuals or organizations.

For detailed information on the process please refer to the How Bills become Law guide from the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

Ontario Bills

For any bill to become law in Ontario, it must pass through several stages.

These include:

  • First Reading (Bill is printed).
  • Second Reading (Where much of the debate happens)
  • Consideration in Committee
  • Report Stage (Committee reports back to the House with any suggested amendments).
  • Third Reading (Bill put to final vote)

A bill must pass all 3 reading stages before it continues onto the next stage – Royal Assent.

To find the full-text of a bill for a recent parliamentary session, visit the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. This site allows you to search for bills during the current legislative session, as well as past legislative sessions (as far back as 1995), by subject or by bill number. The website allows you to see the full-text of the bill, gives you the name of the MPP who introduced it and the dates of first reading, second reading, etc. Also included are links to the full-text of debates on the bill, notes, Acts affected as well as other backgrounders.

To view the full text of a bill, the law library print collection has Bills 1st Reading (XC 190 .O41) and Bills 3rd Reading (XC 190 .O43) – from the Ontario Legislative Assembly. Another print source is the – Ontario Statute Citator - Current Bill Service (XC 190 .O53 1990), for bills that receive Royal Assent.

To read the legislative intent of the bill, find the Hansard Debates of the Ontario Legislature (XC 190 .O3), to find out what members of the house said about the contents of the bill; and the Committee Report that will outline findings and recommendations for changes in the bill.

  • Royal Assent - The bill then goes to the Lieutenant Governor for Royal Assent. The Lieutenant Governor may assent to the Bill in the Queen's name, withold assent or reserve assent. Bills become law only after they have received Assent.

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Coming into Force (CIF) - Ontario Acts

Once a bill is enacted, it still needs to go through one more stage for the law to take effect. For additional information please refer to When Do Ontario Acts and Regulations Come Into Force? by the Legislative Research Service.

  • Coming into Force (CIF) – A statute comes into force upon Royal Assent, or on a day specified in the Act (Legislation Act, 2006, SO 2006, c 21, Sched F, s 9). Some Acts state that the effective date will be decided later by Cabinet. When a date is chosen, it must be approved by the Lieutenant Governor and fixed by proclamation. There are some laws that are never proclaimed and occasionally, only part of a law is proclaimed. These unproclaimed laws or parts of laws never take effect, and are eventually repealed.

Tip: remember to refer to past versions of the Statutes Act (which was repealed and replaced by the Legislation Act) that was in force at the time of the Act or statute that you are referring to, as the CIF provisions have changed over the years.

For example in the Statutes Act, RSO 1990, c S.21, s 5 states that “unless otherwise provided therein, every Act comes into force and takes effect on the sixtieth day after the prorogation of the session of the Legislature at which it was passed or on the sixtieth day after the day of signification, whichever is the later date.”

To find out whether an Act, amendment or section has come into force, there are a couple of official resources you can use:

Legal Resource

Notes

Currency

Availability

Detailed legislative history tables on e-Laws

Provides CIF information; lists amending acts by provision

Ceased April 10, 2015

Online

Table of Proclamations on e-Laws

Lists CIF date by statute provision; was also included in the back of annual SO volumes until 2001 (useful for historical research)

Generally updated within 2 business days on e-Laws;

Online and

XC 190 .O52

Commercial sources for verifying the status of bills and coming into force information include:

Commercial Sources for Ontario Bills

Law Library Call Number

Ontario Statute Citator

XC 190 .O53 1990

CCH Provincial Legislative Record

XC 190 .A311 (Stopped Publishing as of Dec 2009)

Canadian Current Law – Legislation – Ontario

XC 185 .65

CCH Legislative Pulse (online)

not subscribed to by Paul Martin Law Library

Proclamations of new statutes are found in the Ontario Gazette (XC 190 .O78).

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Ontario Acts or Statutes

Ontario statutes are published annually in the Statutes of Ontario (SO) (XC 190 .O52). The statutes included in the volumes are those enacted (but not necessarily in force, see section on CIF) by the end of the calendar year. For access to very current statutes, you can use e-Laws online Source Law collection. Legislation found on e-Laws is considered an official source (Legislation Act, 2006, SO 2006, c 21, Sched F, s 35).

It is important to note that many statutes that are passed by the government merely contain lists of amendments to other statutes. The annual Statutes of Ontario contain both new Acts about substantive matters, as well as statutes whose function is largely to amend other Acts.

Historically, approximately every 10 years, substantive Ontario statutes were combined with all of their amendments and compiled into one text. This publication is the Revised Statutes of Ontario (RSO) (XC 190 .O53 1990). The most recent print consolidation available is RSO 1990. For a current consolidation of laws for Ontario, see e-Laws online Consolidated Act collection. If you are citing a statute which has been included in the latest Revised Statutes of Ontario, you will not cite to the Statutes of Ontario, but to the RSO instead. Note that once statutes are included in the RSO, their original chapter number is changed, and they are entered in alphabetical order with a chapter number and letter. The past texts of the statute which appeared in either the prior RSO or SO are replaced by the current RSO. It is important to note that the RSO citation is maintained in current online consolidations on e-Laws, integrating amendments incorporated into the substantive Acts.

Primary Citations: Ontario Statutes

When an Act is published in the annual Statutes of Ontario or Revised Statutes of Ontario, the Act is given a chapter number. Statutes enacted after RSO 1990 can be located if you know the year of the annual statute volume and the chapter number of the Act. The Act is also divided into parts and sections and may have schedules attached at the end.

A statute citation looks like this:
Arbitration Act, SO 1991, c 17, s 1

This means that the Arbitration Act can be found in the Statutes of Ontario 1991 volume at Chapter 17. The section referred to in this cite is section 1.

RSO citation example:
Ambulance Act, RSO 1990, c A.19, s 4(1)(c), as am. by SO 1997,c 30, Sch.A, s 5(3).

This includes the citation to the Act itself in the R.S.O. plus a citation to a later statute which amended section 4(1)(c) and appeared in the 1997 Statutes of Ontario, chapter 30.

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Amendments to Ontario Statutes

The law is always changing to take into consideration current concerns of society. In print, to find the up-to-date wording of an Act, you must find changes to it. Substantive statutes are amended, repealed or replaced by amending statutes. An omnibus bill or statute amends, repeals, or enacts more than one Act related by a common theme.

NB: Online, current consolidations will have any amendments incorporated into the electronic version.

To keep users abreast of amendments, there are a few resources or research tools to refer to:

Research Tool

Notes

Currency

Availability

Public statutes and ministers responsible on e-Laws

Lists amendments, minister(s) assigned responsibility by order in council, and repeals

Generally updated within 2 business days

Online

Detailed legislative history tables on e-Laws

Provides CIF information; lists amending acts by provision

Current to

April 10, 2015  (discontinued)

Online

Table of Public Statutes

Located in the back of each annual Statute of Ontario volume; lists amendments and repeals (for historical research)

Year of last printing - 2001

XC 190 .O52

 

Detailed legislative history tables example:
Ambulance Act,  RSO 1990, c A-19.

Provision Amended  

Amendments, Repeals

How Amendment or Repeal Commences

When Amendment or Repeal Commences

4(1)(c)

Am.1997,c 30,Sch A,s 5(3)

Specified Date / Date déterminée

1/01/1998

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The information provided above is as follows:  Section 4(1)(c) of the Ambulance Act, which was originally published in the Revised Statues of Ontario, 1990 at Chapter A.19 has been amended once.  To see the Act that amended this section, look in the SO 1997 at Chapter 30, Schedule A, section 5(3).  To see what section 4(1)(c) of the Act looks like today you must read these sections together.  Also, don't forget to check whether each of these sections have come into force.  See the Coming into Force description provided on page 1 and 2.

Another unofficial source for statute amendments is the Ontario Statute Citator (XC 190 .O53 1990).  You should also note that Canlii, LexisNexis Quicklaw and WestlawNext Canada both maintain databases which allow you to view current versions of Canadian federal and provincial statutes with all of their amendments integrated in the text (including very current amendments).  In these online versions, if a section of an Act has been amended, it is immediately followed by a citation to the amending Act.  Quicklaw and CanLii also have a point-in-time feature which allows you to look at an Act as it appeared on a specific date.

Example: If a person was injured in an automobile accident in 1999, the lawyer might need to argue on the basis of the law that governed on that date - meaning the statute as consolidated in 1985 plus any amendments until 1999, but not including amendments that occurred thereafter.)

Ontario Regulations

The Ontario Gazette (XC 190 .O78) and e-Laws publishes filed regulations made under Ontario statutes. For any regulation to have effect it must be filed; a regulation comes into force on the day it is filed, unless otherwise noted in a regulation or in the enabling Act (2006, c 21, Sched F, s 22 (1) (2)).

Like Ontario statutes, substantive regulations and their amendments were consolidated in a publication called the Revised Regulations of Ontario (RRO). The last RRO was in 1990.

Primary Citation: Ontario Regulations

General Pattern: Unrevised
Title (optional), abbreviated jurisdiction Reg number/last two digits of year, pinpoint.

               Example
               O Reg 426/00, s 2

General Pattern: Revised
Title (optional), RRO year of revision, Reg number, pinpoint.

               Example
               RRO 1990, Reg 1015, s 3.

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V Case law

Introduction

Canada’s judicial system is common law – except for the Province of Quebec, which is a civil law jurisdiction. While government passes or creates legislation, judges interpret or judicially consider the law. These judgements or case law have precedent in Canadian law, have equal weight as legislation, and in turn can be judicially considered by subsequent cases (and at times influences the creation or amendment of legislation).

Tip: Many cases heard in the courts are not published in print or electronic format. Editors of these resources will only pick up judgments that either deliver a new interpretation of the law or provide an expanded analysis of the written text of the law. The only way to view unpublished cases is to go to the court where the case was heard, and request a copy for fee from the registrar’s office. If you cannot physically attend in person or send a representative in your place, you can find out additional information about the case from news reports by doing a news article search.

Judicial Consideration of Statutes

To find out whether a court has discussed a particular section of a Canadian statute, you can use:

Tools to find Cases Citing Federal Statutes

Time Frame

Availability

Canadian Abridgment, Canadian Statute Citations

Cases from 1980 - 2015

XC 185 .5 .A5

Canada Statute Citator

for cases after 1985

XC 185 .22

Canada Statute Annotations

cases before 1985

XC 185 .23

Tip: be careful of years prior to any revision (ex. RSC 1985) because the chapter and section numbers usually change with the new revision. The old statute references may have different sections numbers.

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To find out whether a court has discussed a particular section of an Ontario statute, you can use:

Tools to find Cases Citing Ontario Statutes

Time Frame

Availability

Canadian Abridgment, Canada Statute Citations

Cases from 1980 - 2015

XC 185 .5 .A5

Ontario Statute Citator

for cases after 1990

XC 190 .O53 1990

Ontario Statute Annotations

cases before 1990

XC 190 .O54

Tip: The footnotes of textbooks and annuals on a particular piece of legislation (ex. Martin’s Criminal Code), will have citations to cases that have considered specific provisions or legal topics highlighted by experts who have authored the text.

You can also use online legal research systems to note up or locate cases that have judicially considered legislative provisions:

Online Legal Resource

Note up Feature

Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII)

Noteup

LexisNexis Quicklaw

QuickCITE

WestlawNext Canada

Keycite

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Noting up Cases

When you note up a case, you will be looking up the history of the case (its progression through the court system), and what other cases have judicially considered that case.

Resources to find cases that have judicially considered your case:

Case Citator tool

Availability

Canadian Abridgement – Canadian Case Citations

XC 185 .5. A42 (to  2015)

CanLII

online

LexisNexis Quicklaw

online

WestlawNext Canada

online

Primary Citations: Jurisprudence

Cases, judgements or case reports all refer to the written rational of a judge’s decision in a case. Because of applicability to a particular legal topic or interest to a certain jurisdiction, cases can be reproduced in a number of different reporters or online databases. Case citations play an important part in communicating information about a case (i.e. legal subject area, geography, court level, etc.). Whether deciphering a case citation found from a secondary legal search or creating a citation for a proper reference, there is a little bit of science behind it.

The McGill Guide strongly recommends “providing the reader with at least two sources”. Historically, the purpose behind providing parallel citations was to offer more than one access point to a written case in the hope that readers will have access to at least one of the cited resources. This was more important prior to the arrival of the internet and readily available sources of online information.

In the past, in order for a reading of a case to be considered credible it had to be in print and from an authoritative source. Hence the hierarchical list below. In current practice, online legal information sources are deemed to have reliable wording and are considered trusted sources of case law.

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The hierarchy or order of preference given to source material is as follows:

Source Material

Notes

Neutral citation

Can only be created by the courts; are court specific; can be used to universally search on all online databases; Canadian courts started to issue this style format in 1999, with different courts rolling it out thereafter (per Canadian Citation Committee, Neutral Citation Standard for Case Law).

Official national reporters –

Semi-official provincial reporters

Official reporters are published by the Queen’s Printer; semi-official reporters are published by commercial publishers under the auspices of a provincial law society

Unofficial – Online resources

Any unauthorized publication of a case by commercial publishers, includes some provincial reporters

Tip: When someone refers to a “reported” case, they are referring to a case that has traditionally been published in a print resource called a case reporter. An “unreported” case refers to cases that are not published in a major print case reporter, but have been picked up by an online database.

Tip: Pinpoint to draw the reader’s attention to the provision you are referring to. Prior to 1996 all proper pinpoints were directed to page numbers because different providers would give paragraph numbers that weren’t uniformly recognized. After 1996, courts began to assign standardized paragraph numbers to judgements which are accepted in all republications - different courts adopting this in the years thereafter (per Canadian Citation Committee, The Preparation, Citation and Distribution of Canadian Decisions).

General Pattern: non-neutral citation

Style of cause (year of decision), or [year of publication] volume abbreviated source (series?) page # (jurisdiction)

Examples:

Neutral citation: R v Law 2002 SCC 10 at para 28
Official citation: R v Law, [2002] 1 SCR 227
Unofficial citation: R v Law (2002), 208 DLR (4th) 207 (SCC)

Note: Case citations are meant to contain as much information in as little space as possible. As a result, duplication of information is avoided by omitting parts already included in other parts.

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VI Backdating: Tracking Federal Legislative History

Introduction

Knowing the law making process is important to anticipate potential changes to the law, it is also helpful in the discovery of the historical reasoning for the creation of a law. Reading the original legislative intent of a current law or provision can help in crafting an interpretative argument.

Tip: If you are tracing a particular section or provision of an act, you must follow leads that bring your attention to any amendments, not just prior versions of that act, because the wording you are interested in may have been added after the inception or creation of the main substantive act by an amending act.

The end goal of conducting an exercise in legislative history is to find the Hansard debates and committee reports, both of which contain the rationale in creating a particular statute or provision.  Backdating involves tracing a current act or provision to its inception, and is a two-step process.  The first step starts with the current version of an act or provision, and working backwards through time to uncover previous versions of said act or provision by looking up prior source dates referenced in each version. If you are researching a historical piece of legislation, you will be going from revision to revision until you reach the first occurrence of an act – this process can be called conducting a statutory history. Once you find the inception act, the process reverts to step two, a legislative history process that flows from the enactment of a bill, through the passage of the bill, and all the way back to the time when it was just a proposed idea – with the Hansard debates and committee report(s) documenting the issues and motivation behind the creation of the act or provision.

Once you have traced the Act or provision to the original version (i.e. you will see the Royal Assent date at the top of the text), you can then start the legislative history portion of your search.

Key Components of a Federal Legislative History

In order to complete a legislative history, there are certain elements to look out for to make sure that you are tracking the right information. Remember that the law is always changing. Some legislation will have multiple amendments to different sections over the course of a year or years, and different legislation will have provisions that are similar but impacting different parts of the law. As a result, some amendments can look similar.

The following are key components, and can be considered like fingerprints, to help you make sure that you are on the right track:

Parliament and Session Number – since the bill making process must be completed from start to finish in the same legislative sitting or period when the current government is in session, you can find the Parliament number and session number for a bill from the Statutes of Canada volume containing the enacted bill.

Bill Number and Name – The best way to find this information, is by looking for legislative history tables or progress of bills, which contain the status information for a bill as it progressed through the legislative process. However, you may also find references to the bill number and name recorded in legislative resources under certain session dates. See below for a list of resources.

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Dates of 1st Reading, 2nd Reading, 3rd Reading - for BOTH the House and the Senate
The dates can be found in any legislative history table or progress of bills record. However, if you cannot find one you will need to look up the page references to the Readings in the index or appendix of the Journals, then turn to the corresponding page to find the date of the Reading entry. Of the three Reading, it is the 2nd Reading that will be of interest, as it will contain most of the deliberations between members concerning the relevancy or doubts each had before voting.

Committee Reports – mandated by the government, a parliamentary committee will evaluate a proposed bill and provide a report with their findings back to the House of Commons for further consideration.

Tip: There may come a time when you will have a client accused of a wrongdoing in the past. Remember, to keep in mind of when the incident occurred. Because the law is and has always been changing, you will need to be aware of the state of the law at that point in time. One way to find out is to start with the revision prior to the date and follow the law forward through amendments to piecemeal what the law looked like up to the date concerned.  Another way is to refer to annual annotations (includes commentary to better explain the law) or consolidations (where related legislation are assembled together in one publication for easy reference). These are yearly publications of what an area of law looked like for a given year.  Some examples include Martin’s Annual Criminal Code, Investment Canada Act: commentary and annotation, Consolidated Ontario Small Claims Court Statutes, Regulations and Rules, etc.

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References

House of Commons Committees – FAQ page http://www.parl.gc.ca/CommitteeBusiness/

House of Commons Procedure and Practice Online http://www.parl.gc.ca/marleaumontpetit/

The Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation (McGill Guide), 8th ed. (Toronto: Carswell, 2014)

The Senate today: Making Canada’s Laws http://www.parl.gc.ca/About/Senate/Today/laws-e.html