Words and phrases


LawSource includes a words and phrases feature, based on Carswell’s Words and Phrases publication. It is searched from the Words & Phrases link near the bottom of the Home page. This collection contains terms, with examples of how they have been judicially defined.

The results list states the number of considerations for each term. It also enables results to be filtered by keyword, subject area, jurisdiction and date.

A separate feature in the Legislation template on LawSource allows users to search for terms defined in legislation.


Quicklaw includes Canadian Legal Words and Phrases in its core Canadian content, under the Commentary tab. This source contains excerpts from cases and tribunal decisions in which words and phrases are judicially defined, and also contains terms defined in Canadian legislation.

Coverage for Canadian case law starts from January 2000. Entries from Barron’s Canadian Law Dictionary have been added. The collection also includes United Kingdom and Commonwealth entries, legal maxims, and terms defined in legislation. Users can search for words as defined terms, or for words appearing anywhere in the words and phrases entries.


Searches of terms such as “bonus”, “adjacent”, “treaty”, and “best efforts”, conducted on both services in August 2014, revealed that LawSource has a superior tool for words and phrases research.

Best efforts 0 results 12 Cdn cases, 1 tribunal, and cross-reference to “reasonable efforts”
Adjacent 1 Cdn case, 1 tribunal, 4 Commonwealth cases, and legislative definitions for “adjacent” within phrases 9 Cdn cases, 1 tribunal, plus other case law entries for adjacent within phrases
Treaty 2 Cdn cases, 2 Commonwealth cases, 1 dictionary entry, and legislative definitions for “treaty” within phrases 11 Cdn cases, plus other case law entries for adjacent within phrases
Bonus 2 Cdn cases, 6 pre-1950 UK cases, 1 tribunal, 1 NZ case, 1 SA case, legislative definitions in 4 Cdn statutes 10 Cdn cases, plus other case law entries for bonus within phrases

The LawSource searches produced many more results, and in particular many more Canadian cases, than the Quicklaw searches. LawSource also provided easy access to related terms. Quicklaw users should augment their words and phrases research with other resources.