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Canadian case law collections

LawSource

LawSource has an extensive collection of Canadian cases with excellent historical depth. It includes comprehensive coverage of case law from 1986, all reported cases from 1977, all cases in reporters published by Carswell, all cases that were reported in the Dominion Law Reports and Canadian Criminal Cases, and a collection of other key cases. This collection is integrated with other content, such as KeyCite (judicial consideration), full text Canadian journals, the Canadian Abridgment Digests and classification scheme, Words & Phrases, and the Canadian Encyclopedic Digest. The collection also includes decisions of some administrative tribunals. Additional pay-as-you-go content is available through integration with Litigator (pleadings, quantum databases), the Legal Memoranda collection, topical publications, and foreign content.

WestlawNext Canada makes video tutorials and user guides available.

Quicklaw

The Quicklaw Full Service subscription has an extensive collection of Canadian cases. It includes comprehensive coverage of case law from 1986, all reported cases from 1970, all earlier cases that have been cited by the courts since 1970, and a collection of other key cases. This collection is integrated with other content, such as QuickCite (judicial consideration), full text Canadian and international journals, the Canada Digest collection, Halsbury’s Laws of Canada, and a topical classification scheme. The collection also includes quantum databases, solicitors’ forms, and decisions of many administrative tribunals.

Quicklaw makes training modules and user guides available.

CanLII

CanLII is a free Internet service funded by the Canadian legal profession. It includes a comprehensive collection of Canadian cases from 2001, with coverage from most jurisdictions going back much further. The SCC collection is comprehensive from 1907 and includes PDF versions from the Supreme Court Reports. The BC collection is comprehensive from 1990, and contains many significant decisions prior to that date. The collection also includes decisions of several administrative tribunals, and an employment law e-text. Details regarding coverage are published in the Scope of Databases link on each CanLII page.

CanLII makes a detailed help page available, as well as video tutorials on YouTube.

Other services

Searches of case law can also be done using a variety of other free and commercial services.

  • The BestCase Library is a subscription-based service that operates on the WestlawNext Canada platform. It provides access to a comprehensive collection of unreported decisions from 1977, as well as cases reported in the Canadian Criminal Cases, Dominion Law Reports, and Labour Arbitration Cases. The cases from these reporters are published in PDF, with the same headnotes and editorial enhancements contained in the print reporters.
  • Maritime Law Books has made its case law collection freely available for full text searching. The historical coverage goes back further than on CanLII. Paid subscribers can access value-added editorial features, such as headnotes, key numbers, and words judicially defined. Maritime Law Books makes instructional videos available through YouTube.
  • Many Canadian courts publish decisions of the court shortly after the decisions are released.

The search engines on court sites are usually less sophisticated than those used by CanLII and the commercial publishers. However, the court site is generally the first place where recent decisions of the court are published.

The CanLII page for each court contains a link to the Official Website for that court. Go to the jurisdiction, then select the court and look for the Official Website link.

Topical collections

You can search topical collections of cases in many different ways.

  • Subscribe to one of the topical products from WestlawNext Canada or Quicklaw. These will contain commentary and legislation as well as case law, enabling you to cover the essentials using one resource.
  • Review a text, encyclopedia or article dealing with the topic, for both commentary and references to relevant cases.
  • Restrict your search in Quicklaw using the Refine Search by Area of Law feature.
  • In Quicklaw, search the databases listed under a topic in the Source Directory.
  • Restrict your search in LawSource to a topical reporter or a subject area.
  • Restrict your search in LawSource using an Abridgment Case Digest classification or in Quicklaw using a Canada Digest classification.
  • In print, search the cumulative print indexes for a topical reporter or search the Abridgment Case Digests.

This site includes a list of the many Canadian topical case collections and services available.