Know How

The blog of the Great Library


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Has It Been Appealed?

When you’ve found the perfect case that’s exactly on point, what’s your next step? Besides running out and buying a lottery ticket, you should note up the decision to see if it has been appealed. You can do this using Lexis Advance Quicklaw, WestlawNext Canada and CanLII. There may be a later decision that upholds or reverses your decision, awards costs or in some instances orders a new trial.

What if your perfect Ontario case is very recent and you’re wondering if it has been appealed to the Court of Appeal? The court’s website has a section that lists motions for leave to appeal, organized by year and then month. Once you have selected a year you can then do a ctrl-f search for one of the party’s names. The motions for leave to appeal begin with 2002.

What if leave to appeal has been granted and you’re desperate to know when the decision might be released? After checking the three case law databases listed above (but only after they have been checked), you can call the Court of Appeal. For inquiries about appeals, contact the Intake Office at 416-327-5020 and select Option #2.


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A Lesson in Anatomy: The Canada Gazette 

As the official newspaper of the Government of Canada, published under the authority of the Statutory Instruments Act, the Canada Gazette contains a wealth of government information from new and proposed regulations to various public notices. The materials published in the Canada Gazette can form the backbone of much of your primary legal research — if you know where to look! In this post we’ll examine the anatomy of the Canada Gazette and dissect its 3 separately published parts to provide some clarity.

Part I

Part I of the Gazette is published every Saturday and is organized into six parts: Government House, Government Notices, Parliament, Commissions, Miscellaneous Notices and Proposed Regulations. It is most often used to look for orders-in-council, proposed regulations and their Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement (RIAS) and federal agency or departmental notices.

Quarterly Indexes provide a handy list of notices and orders-in-council published in Part I in the previous 3 months.

Part II

Part II is published bi-weekly on Wednesdays. This part contains important information for legislative research purposes, namely enacted regulations, other classes of statutory instruments, and orders. Part II is where to find orders fixing the coming into force dates for acts. Every document contained in Part II can be identified and is organized chronologically by a specified number: a Statutory Orders and Regulations (SOR) number or a Statutory Instruments (SI) number.

Part III

Part III contains official versions of public Acts of Parliament along with their enactment proclamations. This part of the Gazette is now less used than in the past, since recently enacted or “assented-to” versions of acts can be readily accessed in other places, such as the Justice Laws website or through LegisINFO. Part III is published irregularly, essentially whenever the Department of Justice determines there are enough newly enacted statutes to warrant it.

All parts of the Canada Gazette since 1998 are available on the “Canada Gazette Publications” webpage. (PDF versions since April 1, 2003 are official for evidence purposes.) For older issues, look to the Canada Gazette Archives. The Great Library has hard copies of the Canada Gazette from its inception in 1841 to 2014, the year the federal government discontinued the print publication.

For further reading, the Government of Canada has produced a helpful webpage on Understanding the Canada Gazette, as well as a History of the Canada Gazette.


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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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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.