Know How

The blog of the Great Library


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A New LibGuide: The Charter of Rights and Freedoms

The enactment of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms does not follow the usual path of Canadian legislation.  Tracing its evolution involves research in two jurisdictions – Canada and the UK – since the power to change our Constitution and incorporate new constitutional measures such as the Charter did not lie in our hands but rather with the Crown.  This can cause a lot of confusion when searching for source law on the Charter. 

For this reason, we have created a LibGuide that aims to guide the researcher in their pursuit to locate and identify legislative intent for the Charter as well as to help form a basic understanding of the legislative pathway the Charter underwent to be enacted.  This LibGuide provides the dates and direct links to the British and Canadian Hansards and identifies some helpful secondary and primary source material concerning the Charter.  The territories of this LibGuide include:

  • The Charter:  A Brief Legislative History
  • The Hansards: The Charter in Canada
  • The Hansards: The Charter in the United Kingdom
  • Secondary Resources at the Great Library

And the LibGuide is now live!  Much like the other LibGuides produced by the Great Library, the Charter LibGuide will be periodically updated.  Visit the Great Library Research Guides to find this and other helpful LibGuides produced by the Great Library staff. 


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Legal Research Survival Guide – Part 9: Legal Writing Resources

This post focuses on the final stage of the research process – writing. The importance of this stage is self-evident – all of the hard work you’ve put into researching your client’s legal problem will be wasted if you can’t effectively communicate your findings and analysis.

Don’t miss the other Survival Guide posts

Here are a few tips to keep in mind during the writing stage of a research assignment:

Practice time management

Make sure you leave enough time in your research process for writing. Clear writing and thorough editing may take you as much time as researching. Plan according to your deadline. Don’t fall into the trap of dragging out your research to avoid nailing down your analysis and beginning to write.

Edit in stages

Tackle the crucial task of editing and revising your work in stages so that you can focus on one aspect of your document at a time. Start by reviewing the big picture – the overall purpose, structure and flow. Go back and edit for clarity and style. Lastly focus on the details. Proof read for typos, grammar, citations, links, etc. Check out this helpful tutorial on editing your own work using a 5-layered strategy.

Get guidance

Writing well is a career-long pursuit. Achieving the goal of clear, concise, accessible and compelling written work takes time, practice and also guidance. Where possible ask for feedback on your writing and accept constructive criticism.

Other Resources

There is also a plethora of helpful writing about legal writing that you can use to improve your skills in writing research memos, opinion letters, pleadings, contracts and, most importantly in daily practice, client communications. There’s lots to explore, but here’s manageable selection of practical resources to start with:

Neil Guthrie, Guthrie’s Guide to Better Legal Writing (Irwin Law, 2018) KF 250 G88 2018, 2nd Floor, Reference.

  • straightforward, readable advice on fixing legal writing deficiencies. The book’s working title, Please Don’t Write like a Lawyer, says it all.

Justice John I. Laskin, “Forget the Wind-up and Make the Pitch”, Ontario Court of Appeal (originally published in Advocates’ Society Journal, Summer 1999)

  • Justice Laskin’s widely cited article provides enduring advice on effective point-first legal writing.

James C. Raymond, Writing for the Court (Carswell, 2010) KF 250 R39 2010, 2nd Floor, Reference.

  • aimed at both judges and lawyers, this slim text provides practical advice, with examples, on organizing your writing and achieving plain style.

Cheryl Stephens, “Plain Language Legal Writing”, CBA PracticeLink, 2014

Point First Legal Writing Academy

  • University of Ottawa’s Legal Writing Academy offers free, interactive resources for improving legal writing skills.


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New Year, New Rules: Changes in Smalls Claim Court

In October, the Ontario government announced that they would be raising the claim limit for Smalls Claim Court from $25,000 to $35,000 in the New Year.  This is part of an access to justice initiative to make it faster, easier, and more affordable for people and businesses to resolve their disputes in front of a judge.

Currently, all claims that exceed $25,000 must seek redress through the Superior Court of Justice— one of the busiest courts in Canada.  By increasing the Smalls Claim Court claim limit, more litigants will be able to bring their disputes to a court where cases are often resolved in less than a year, and where the use of less expensive legal representation such as paralegals, law students, and self-representation is available.  This will also help free up the Superior Court of Justice to focus on more pressing family and criminal law cases as more civil cases are diverted to Small Claims Court.

Along with this change also comes the increase in the minimum amount of a claim that may be appealed to Divisional Court from $2,500 to $3,500.  Additionally, litigants who started a claim in the Superior Court can seek to transfer their case to Small Claims Court if the claim falls within the monetary threshold.

Legislation Responsible:

O. Reg 343/19 was the regulation responsible for amending O.Reg 626/00, Small Claims Court Jurisdiction and Appeal Limit (regulation under the Courts of Justice Act) to change the maximum claim amount from $25,000 to $35,000.  It also increased the minimum amount of a claim that may be appealed to Divisional Court from $2,500 to $3,500.  O.Reg 343/19 comes into force on January 1, 2020.


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House of Bills: A Weekly Update on Ontario Bills

December  9– December 12
42nd Parliament, 1st Session

Bill 6, Poet Laureate of Ontario Act (In Memory of Gord Downie), 2019legend

Third Reading, carried (Dec 12)
Royal Assent (Dec 12)

Bill 116, Foundations for Promoting and Protecting Mental Health and Addictions Services Act, 2019

Bill considered by Standing Committee on Social Policy, reported as amended (Dec 10)
Third Reading, carried (Dec 11)
Royal Assent (Dec 12)

Bill 123, Reserved Parking for Electric Vehicle Charging Act, 2019

Second Reading (Dec 10)
Bill considered by Standing Committee on Regulations and Private Bills, reported as amended (Dec 11)
Third Reading, carried (Dec 12)
Royal Assent (Dec 12)

Bill 132, Better for People, Smarter for Business Act, 2019

Third Reading, carried on division (Dec 9 & 10)
Royal Assent (Dec 10)

Bill 138, Plan to Build Ontario Together Act, 2019

Reported as amended by Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs (Dec 9)
Third Reading, carried on division (Dec 9 & 10)
Royal Assent (Dec 10)

Bill 150, Ensuring Transparency and Integrity in Political Party Elections Act, 2019

Second Reading, carried on division (Dec 12)
Ordered referred to Standing Committee on General Government (Dec 12)

Bill 153, Long-Term Care Homes Amendment (Till Death Do Us Part) Act, 2019

Second Reading, carried (Dec 12)
Ordered referred to Standing Committee on Justice Policy (Dec 12)

Bill 156, Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act, 2019

Second Reading (Dec 10 & 11)

Bill 159, Rebuilding Consumer Confidence Act, 2019

Order for Second Reading discharged pursuant to Standing Order 74(a) (Dec 11)
Ordered referred to Standing Committee on Justice Policy (Dec 11)
Bill considered by Standing Committee on Justice Policy (Dec 12)

Bill 160, Education Amendment Act (Use of Seclusion and Physical Restraints), 2019

First Reading (Dec 9)

Bill 161, Smarter and Stronger Justice Act, 2019

First Reading (Dec 9)

Bill 162, Public Accountability and Lobbyist Transparency Act, 2019

First Reading (Dec 9)

Bill 163, Food Day Ontario (Food Day Canada in Ontario) Act, 2019

First Reading (Dec 10)

Bill 164, Protecting Vulnerable Persons in Supportive Living Accommodation Act, 2019

First Reading (Dec 10)

Bill 165, Ontario Climate Crisis Strategy for the Public Sector Act, 2019

First Reading (Dec 11)

Bill 166, Great Lakes Protection Amendment Act, 2019

First Reading (Dec 11)

Bill 167, Legislative Assembly Amendment Act, 2019

First Reading (Dec 11)

Bill 168, Combating Antisemitism Act, 2019

First Reading (Dec 11)

Bill 169, Home Warranties to Protect Families Act, 2019

First Reading (Dec 12)

Bill 170, Protecting Passenger Safety Act, 2019

First Reading (Dec 12)

And with that, the Legislative Assembly of Ontario stands adjourned for their two month winter break. Presently, the legislature is scheduled to resume February 18th, 2020. But the House of Bills series is still going! Be sure to come back next week for a snapshot of the latest stage those bills that have progressed through the House this Fall reached before the winter recess.


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HeinOnline Tip: Article Email Alerts

HeinOnline has implemented a new feature to help you keep track of articles on a given subject or written by a particular author. The new Similar Article Email Alerts feature notifies subscribers:

  1. When new material for this author is added to HeinOnline
  2. When new articles in HeinOnline cite this author’s articles
  3. When articles are accessed on HeinOnline each month
  4. When similar articles are published on this author’s works

Whether you want to keep track of an author’s publications or discover new articles that are similar to those written by your favourite author, HeinOnline has you covered.

To set up Similar Article Email Alerts, go to the author’s profile page. You can do this by plugging the author’s name into the search bar. On the results page, find an entry written by your author and click their hyperlinked name. This will bring you to their author profile page. Here is an example of Alice Woolley’s author page:

Alice Wooley’s author page on HeinOnline with email alert “bell” icon at top right

You will notice a bell icon at the top right of the page. Click this icon to set your preferences and subscribe with your email.

For more information on this feature, see HeinOnline’s Tip of the Week.

HeinOnline author alert dialog box, showing what you want to get alerts for

Now you’re all set! Don’t forget that Law Society of Ontario licensees have remote access to HeinOnline through the Great Library. Email refstaff@lso.ca to get yours set up today!