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End of an Era: Bound Volumes of the Ontario Reports Discontinued

LexisNexis Canada has announced that it is ending production of the bound volumes of the Ontario Reports effectively immediately. The last print volume of the series is 142 O.R. (3d) 2019.

This marks the end of an era in law reporting in Ontario. The first volume of the Ontario Reports (ORs) was printed in Toronto in 1882 under the authority of the Law Society of Upper Canada (now the Law Society of Ontario). [i]  Since then, despite changes in name, (Ontario Law Reports (1901-1931)) and publisher (including Butterworths, Canada Law Book and LexisNexis Canada), the ORs have been a staple of Ontario legal practice.

But the sky hasn’t fallen. While the production of the handsome bound volumes has ended, all of the content found between the covers remains available in a variety of sources and formats.

The cases reported in the ORs are accessible online through CanLII, WestlawNext Canada and Lexis Advance Quicklaw.

In addition, LexisNexis Canada will continue to publish the weekly issues of the ORs for Law Society of Ontario licensees, in both digital and print form. The “paper parts”, which are read as much for the professional notices, law firm announcements, expert witness directory and classified ads as for the reports of recent decisions they contain, are posted weekly on the Digital Ontario Reports website. Back issues are available in pdf from March 26, 2010.

And the Great Library has you covered. We maintain a full set of the ORs (1882-2019) and provide free in-library access for LSO licensees to Lexis Advance Quicklaw and WestlawNext Canada. Plus, we keep one print copy of all the weekly issues and bind them annually (ads and all). So if you still have piles of paper ORs cluttering up your office or home, feel free to recycle them!

[i] For a history of the Ontario Reports, see Anne C. Matthewman, “Volumes of History: The Development of Law Reporting in Ontario” in Martha L. Foote, ed, Law Reporting and Legal Publishing in Canada: A History (Kingston, Ont: Canadian Association of Law Libraries, 1997).

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New Website: Ontario’s Family Law Limited Scope Services Project

This week saw the launch of a new website for Ontario’s Family Law Limited Scope Services Project. The Project is funded by The Law Foundation of Ontario. Its aim is to improve access to family justice for lower and middle income Ontarians by increasing the use of unbundled or limited scope legal services.

Currently in over half of family law cases, one or more parties is self-represented. The single biggest factor in a litigant’s decision to appear without counsel is the cost of legal services. The Ontario’s Family Law Limited Scope Services Project conducts research and provides information on alternatives to high cost, full-service representation, such as:

  • Limited scope retainers under which clients engage a lawyer to complete only specified tasks while taking responsibility for handling the rest of the matter themselves.
  • Legal coaching where the client navigates their legal issue with guidance from a lawyer.
  • Summary legal counsel where lawyers provide day-of-court assistance for a fee to unrepresented family litigants not eligible for Legal Aid.

The Project’s website provides resources on these options for both family law clients and lawyers. For clients, there’s a directory of Ontario lawyers who offer unbundled family law services. There’s an FAQ section that provides practical information on limited scope services, what they cover, how they differ from traditional legal services and how to work with a lawyer to allocate tasks under a limited scope retainer.

The website also helps lawyers better understand the concept of limited scope representation and how to provide unbundled services. Lawyer resources include a best practices guide, precedent retainer agreement and FAQs.

For more information on limited scope legal services, see

ABA Unbundling Resource Center

Alberta Limited Legal Services Project

Limited Scope Representation Resources (LawPRO)

Unbundling Legal Services (Law Society of British Columbia)

“Unbundling” of legal services (Law Society of Ontario)


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Je ne parle pas français: Tips for finding English versions of French language case law

Few things are more frustrating than finding your “golden case”—the case that will answer all your questions, solve all your problems and surely render opposing counsel speechless—only to realize you cannot understand a word of it because it’s been reported in French (and, well, you don’t speak French). While the search for English translations of case law reported in French is not entirely hopeless, it can be a challenge.

Unless the decision has been reported in an official court reporter or published in a bilingual jurisdiction, it is most likely the decision has only been reported in the language in which it was argued. Nevertheless, there are several pathways to take before admitting defeat.

To double-check if there is a translated version of a Canadian decision, search by style of clause (name of the case) on:

  • Lexis Advance Quicklaw
  • WestlawNext Canada
  • CanLII

If these resources do possess a translated version of the case in question, you’ll see an “English” link on the French case, or you’ll notice the case is shown as being reported twice in the same database (one in English, the other in French).

Another source worth consulting is SOQUIJ, the body that publishes Quebec judicial and administrative tribunal decisions.  Although limited in scope, its free database of Translated Decisions offers unofficial English translations of selected decisions from the Quebec Court of Appeal, Quebec Superior Court, Court of Quebec, Quebec Human Rights Tribunal, Quebec Professions Tribunal, the Ministère de la Justice of Quebec and the Financial Markets Administrative Tribunal.

Lastly, some of us at the Great Library have had luck searching for translated versions of cases by using CanLII on Google Chrome. When using CanLII and Google Chrome in tandem, a pop-up window which reads, “Translate this page?” appears. After clicking the “Translate” button, an unofficial English translation of the French case is presented.

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Primer, please

For those diving into new and unfamiliar areas of law, tackling often sizable and complex loose-leaf sources can feel like an intimidating task. While loose-leaf materials are a vital tool within the arsenal of the effective legal researcher, working with these materials may prove more manageable if you first develop a certain degree of context. When seeking materials that provide foundational information in legal research, primer materials can save the day.

Continuing Professional Development materials

While CPD/CLE materials can offer informative updates of very specific legal issues, they can also acts as refreshers or introductory overviews of major legal topics in a given field. For example, the library has access to program materials like the Ontario Bar Association’s Construction Law Primer and the Law Society of Ontario’s Real Estate Refresher 2018 which both pull together articles that highlight some core issues and topics of their respective fields. Full-text CPD papers from Law Society programs since 2004 are available free on AccessCLE.

Introductory texts

When searching for primer material in legal texts, it can be useful to keep an eye out for particular publishers. For instance, both Emond Publishing and Irwin Law produce collections of texts meant to showcase the core concepts of an area of law with succinct summaries and analyses. While Emond publishes collections, such as the Working with the Law series, that cater to the legal professional and researcher with a practical and accessible approach to law, Irwin Law has developed the Essentials of Canadian Law Series which provides informed and authoritative analyses of Canadian law useful to both the student and practitioner. Some examples that can be found in our collection include: Charter Remedies in Criminal Cases: A Practitioner’s Handbook and Securities Law.

And Don’t Forget…

You can always rely on Halsbury’s Laws of Canada and Canadian Encyclopedic Digest to provide succinct overviews of a wide range of legal topics. Access these materials online or in print at the Great Library.

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Prohibited Pets and Where to Find Them – Researching Municipal By-laws

Can my neighbour keep ferrets as pets, and if so how many? This question about what animals are permitted as pets in the City of Toronto recently led us into the world of municipal by-law research.

The City of Toronto website provides three great tools for this type of research:

  1. City of Toronto Municipal Code

The Code is an updated compilation of by-laws, divided into 3 parts – Administrative, General and Traffic and Parking By-laws, each organized by subject specific chapters.

You can browse the Code by chapter/subject, or use the separate search function. The table of contents includes links to any recent amendments made to a Code chapter since the last update.

(A quick note about scope – the Code contains administrative by-laws and by-laws that have general application to people and places across the City of Toronto, but it doesn’t include by-laws from decisions about specific people, places or things.)

  1. City of Toronto By-laws

Annual by-laws made by the City of Toronto are available from the current year back to 1998 (the year of municipal amalgamation in Ontario). You can browse this collection by year or by-law number, or use the keyword search function.

  1. By-law Status Registry

The Registry includes the history and status of by-laws, including older by-laws (many of which are still in force today) from the former municipalities of Toronto, Metropolitan Toronto, East York, Etobicoke, North York, Scarborough and York back to 1834.

Now, back to the ferrets… our research in the City of Toronto Municipal Code led us to Chapter 349, Animals which sets out the rules for keeping and caring for animals in the city. The by-law also provides a long list of Prohibited Animals (Schedule A). We found that ferrets fall under the family of Mustelidae, a grouping of carnivorous mammals that also includes skunks, weasels, otters and badgers.  Ferrets are however specifically exempted in the Schedule.

While it appears ferrets are safe to keep as pets, we noted that a significant portion of the animal kingdom is not; residents are prohibited from keeping anteaters, elephants, fruit bats, hyenas, penguins, sloths and wallabies, to name a few. Interestingly, snakes are fine as long as they reach an adult length under 3 metres.

There is no mention of maximum ferret numbers per dwelling unit in Chapter 349 of the Code (although § 349-5 restricts the number of dogs to three and cats to six). Searching the City of Toronto annual by-laws, we found an earlier by-law (28-1999) which did provide that “no person shall keep in any dwelling unit more than six (6) of any combination of dogs, cats, ferrets and rabbits…” However checking in the By-law Status Registry confirmed that Chapter 349 of the Code superseded the earlier by-law.

Here are some other useful resources to assist with basic by-law research:

About Bills, By-laws and the Municipal Code – FAQs

By-law and Toronto Municipal Code Services – for questions and to obtain certified copies of by-laws

By-law Digitization Program – on-going scanning project of pre-1998 by-laws passed by the Toronto and former municipalities (Copies of by-laws not yet scanned can be requested from the City of Toronto Archives.)

A Brief History of Zoning Bylaws in Toronto, Toronto Reference Library Blog, Dec. 14, 2015

Rogers, The Law of Canadian Municipal Corporations (Thomson Reuters loose leaf) KF 5305 R63 / Practice Collection, 2nd Floor; also available on Proview – Chapter IX, By-laws provides background and commentary on drafting, enacting, enforcing, and repealing by-laws