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Legal Research

Noting Up Legislation

When researching legislation, you need to consider what kind of information you need.

1. Current Version of an Act

  • Legislation changes over time - sections may be amended, added, or repealed, and an entire act may be repealed and superseded by a new act.
  • Consolidations are versions of acts/statutes that include all in-force amendments to the act up to a particular date, called the "current to" date, which is indicated at the beginning of the consolidation. At present consolidations are predominantly done electronically.
    • Check if any amendments were made and came into force since the current to date, as these would not be part of the current consolidation.
    • New amendments that have not come into force yet will not be included in the consolidation.
  • To check for new amendments, use the most recent "Table of Public Statutes" for the appropriate jurisdiction (i.e. federal or provincial).
    • Also check the appropriate government website for new bills that may contain amendments to the consolidated act.

2. Previous Version(s) of an Act (historical research)

  • You may need to know what an act said at specific time in the past, e.g. for a legal matter that took place some time ago, or to understand how a piece of legislation has changed and evolved over time. These older versions of acts are usually referred to as previous versions or point-in-time versions

The databases and websites below, provide access to some older acts electronically, but only go back to certain dates, making it necessary to use print versions for anything earlier. Contact a Law Librarian if you need assistance. 

3. Judicial Consideration

  • Judges hearing a court case often comment on the meaning or intent of a particular section of legislation that has been cited in the case.
  • These commentaries help to clarify the meaning of the legislation and how it applies to this particular case.
  • Use Westlaw, Quicklaw, or CanLII to find cases that discuss a statute or regulation by searching for the name of the act in their case databases or by using their citator feature.
  • In print: Canadian Statute Citations, KE 173 C215
    • Multi-volume set with volumes for the federal and each provincial and territorial jurisdiction.