Case reporters and indices
Reporter indices can be a useful research tool, although they have been largely supplanted by full text electronic databases.
- You may want to review the subject index for a case reporter series where your electronic research has not yielded good results, or if you do not have electronic access to the cases covered by the reporter series.
- The standardized index terms can sometimes lead you to cases that are missed in a keyword search. They tend to be broader, and may take you to cases dealing with the same point of law but in a different factual context.
- The indices also have useful value-added features such as words and phrases references. Particularly useful are the subject indices for topical reporters.
For British Columbia cases, the most important reporter is the British Columbia Law Reports. Older British Columbia case law is reported in the British Columbia Reports series, freely available on the Internet. There is a large gap between when the British Columbia Reports ceased publication in 1947 and the British Columbia Law Reports commenced in 1976. During this period, the Western Weekly Reports and the Dominion Law Reports are the most likely source for British Columbia case law.
The Supreme Court Reports is the official reporter for the Supreme Court of Canada, and the Federal Court Reports is the official reporter for the Federal Court of Canada. The Dominion Law Reports is the leading reporter series for national coverage of Canadian case law. The BestCase Library is the only electronic service to publish the Dominion Law Reports, with PDF versions containing the DLR headnotes. However, LawSource includes a complete collection of the cases that were selected for publication in the Dominion Law Reports.
LawSource states that it includes all reported cases from 1977, and all cases from 1986, as well as a collection of pre-1977 decisions from key courts and law report series. Quicklaw states that it includes all reported court decisions from 1970 and all pre-1970 decisions cited by cases decided from 1970, as well as all cases from 1986.
Maritime Law Books publishes cases from all Canadian jurisdictions, using a detailed “point of law” classification scheme. As with the classification schemes in the Abridgment Case Digests and The Canada Digest, the MLB classification scheme can be used to find cases dealing with the same legal issue.
Topical reporters contain editorially selected cases in a topical area, such as employment law or family law. They often include a case comment or annotation for significant cases. In addition, topical reporters include research aids such as subject tables and words and phrases tables.
This site includes a list of the many Canadian topical case collections and services available.
Queen’s University Faculty of Law, Legal Research Materials, Secondary Materials.
Tjaden, Doing Legal Research in Canada.