Living in Limbo – Unconsolidated and Unrepealed Statutes

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When searching for laws that have current effect in Ontario, the first place to check is of course eLaws – the Ontario government’s website for official current legislation. But did you know that there are two types of statutes that are not included in the current consolidation?

The first category is private acts which are limited in scope, affecting only a specific municipality, corporation, or other body. The second category is made up of public statutes, and parts of public statutes, that are still in force in Ontario but can’t be found on eLaws. These elusive statutes are known as “unconsolidated and unrepealed”. They are neither consolidated with current legislation, nor repealed.

An Example

To illustrate this legislative limbo, let’s take the example of an older statute that researchers often have trouble updating – the Ontario Railways Act. From time to time, citations to this act, such as Railways Act, 3-4 Geo V, c. 36 (1913), appear in title documents and other legal materials. A researcher may be asked to update the act and determine its current status.

Usually all goes well at the beginning of the research process. The Railways Act was first consolidated in the Revised Statutes of Ontario 1914 and appears in successive statute revisions from the RSO 1914 through the RSO 1950. But it doesn’t appear in the RSO 1960. The most logical conclusion a researcher can draw from this fact is that the act was repealed between 1950 and 1960. And yet, no repealing legislation can be found.

The mystery can be solved by checking the Table of Unconsolidated and Unrepealed Acts, Schedule B in the last volume of the RSO 1960. The schedule lists c 331 of the RSO 1950 as unconsolidated and unrepealed, and therefore still in effect in 1960.

Tables of Unconsolidated and Unrepealed Acts were published in most older Ontario statute revisions. To update the status of the Railways Act further, check these tables in the RSO 1970, 1980 and 1990, or check the Public Statutes and Ministers Responsible table available on eLaws.

The eLaws table lists Ontario’s consolidated public statutes, as well as public statutes which were not consolidated in the RSO 1990 and continued in unconsolidated form.

The table confirms that the Railways Act, RSO 1950, c 331 is not on elaws, but that the act, except s. 16(5), remains unrepealed and in force in the province.