Legal Research

This guide is intended to assist legal researchers and law students to locate Canadian and International sources, databases, cases, legislation and commentary.

Cases

Court and tribunal decisions together form the primary case law of Canada. They are published in both online databases and print reporters. Not every decision is reported, and many are only available online. 

Court case decisions are handed down by the federal, provincial, and territorial courts established under the Canadian Constitution. 

Administrative tribunal decisions are handed down by specialized governmental agencies established by federal, provincial, and territorial legislation, to adjudicate on matters arising from their regulatory processes.

Case Law - Comprehensive Sources

1. Search the fulltext for case decisions by it's actual name or style of cause. 

2. Search the fulltext of case decisions by using keywords:

  • Specific facts of a case - what happened, who was involved, dates, times, etc.

  • The legal issues that arise from the facts

Case Digests

Digests contain summaries of court cases and usually provide an exhaustive list of cases for a particular jurisdiction or subject area. 

The Canadian Abridgment is included in Westlaw Canada. It is Canada’s most comprehensive case digest service and Covers virtually every case reported in Canada since 1803, and every reported or unreported case received from the courts since 1986, with the exception of Quebec civil law cases.

With full-text searching you may find you are retrieving too many or too few cases. As an alternative, you may find a case digesting service such as the Canadian Abridgement a useful alternative. The Abridgment provides brief summaries of the facts and issues of a case, plus its citation, which allows you to review many cases in a relatively short time without overly complex searching. This can help you at the beginning of your research, to explore the case law on a topic, or later on as a check to make sure you haven't missed anything.