The Supreme Court of Canada and LexUM announced just before Christmas that the Court’s Decisions website now contains all decisions since 1907, and judgments in leave applications since 2006. The collection is updated within minutes of the public release of the judgments by the Court.

“All published judgments since 1876 from cases which were appealed to the SCC from the British Columbia Court of Appeal have been added to the database, courtesy of CanLII and the Law Foundation of BC.  Appeals from the Ontario Court of Appeal, also dating back to 1876, were added to the SCC database last year.”

Click to try the SCC Decisions database

The LexUM site has been the main public source for Supreme Court decisions for 20 years, and is a very useful resource if you are away from the Library, where you will find the Supreme  Court Reports (S.C.R.)  1923 –  shelved on the main floor at Cw Can 100 C90.

For Oxford University staff and students, who have access to HeinOnline, Hein includes SCC decisions from 1876-2011 (as at January 2013).  LexisLibrary carries Supreme Court of Canada Judgments from 1876 to date, and on Westlaw, the CANSCC-CS database contains the full text of documents of all reported Supreme Court of Canada cases, from 1876.

To find out more about Canadian legal resources, you might like to use our Guide to Canadian Law.

Goose image thanks to ~Sage~ on

At the Law Bod,  we are used to that look of concentrated abstraction as our readers digest what they have read and then distil all that wisdom – spiked with their own original thought – onto their page or laptop! But when it comes to the birds, it is the sight and sound of Canada geese flying overhead which allows those of us sitting near windows an excuse for a (short) break from matters jurisprudential!

So we’ll use the sixth day to look at 6 important Canadian electronic resources.

OU students are usually unaware that the two subscription databases which they turn to regularly for UK material do also give them access to a considerable number of Canadian sources and titles. Indeed thanks to the rather baffling way both Lexis®Library and Westlaw UK seem to have decided to hide away their libraries of international and foreign law (surely it would be more sensible commercially to shout it from the rooftops?) means that for many it comes as a complete surprise that these databases contain anything beyond UK & EU law.

To see what Canadian (indeed other foreign and international material) is available  in Lexis®Library you  start by clicking on the Sources tab on the home page

Then, on the next page, change the country to Canada (via the drop down menu) – with or without limiting this to either federal or a province – and then clicking on the various hyperlinked letters of the alphabet

To navigate to the foreign and international material from Westlaw UK’s homepage, you have to click on Services first, then Westlaw International

Getting to Canadian material on Westlaw UK

Once through into the international section, the page tabbed Westlaw International has the International Directory where you can discover the Canadian material on offer.

Both Lexis and Westlaw include the Index to Canadian Legal Literature service – greatly appreciated by anyone without a reading list telling you which articles in which law journals need to be read!

That HeinOnline should include Canadian journals seems perfectly logical – once you have been told! But it now also has a library of Canadian Supreme Court decisions (though not the most recent).

Those are the three subscription databases which are accessible to anyone with an Oxford Single Sign On username and password.

To try to help students find their way between these databases, the Law Bod’s website has the Search our Law Reports and Journals tool.  Copy and paste in the full title of either a journal or a report series – and this database should give you both the shelf mark (if the Law Bod has the print version) and which database has it online.  It is also possible to use this tool to find out which national law reports are available in the Law Bod even if you know no titles thanks to the jurisdiction option.

Canada has a very strong and successful free access to law movement so there is no shortage of candidates to supply 3 more online sources to make up 6. It is hard to argue against giving  CanLII (Canadian Legal Information Institute) top spot, with its wealth of legislation and case-law databases and  excellent portal. But after that it seems invidious to select just 2 more! If we limit the range to federal legislation, while acknowledging the usefulness of both the  Canada Gazette website (a source of official texts of statutes and other regulations), and LegisInfo (part of the Canadian parliament website which enables users to track the progress of bills and see the legislative history behind acts), we shall promote Justice Laws, a Dept of Justice website  which offers among other things, consolidated legislation. For the final candidate, although the Maritime Law Books Raw Law site means that the intellectual content of their reporting series are available to all, we feel that the student of  Canadian law (especially if a “native” in exile in England while completing a degree) is as keen on commentary and current awareness as primary sources so we’ll promote the blog portal Canadian Law Blogs List were you can pick and choose across a wide variety of topics, from both the world of practitioners and academia.

A colleague has just completed an online guide to Canadian law for users of the Law Bod which we hope will encourage you to explore this jurisdiction further.

One final link between 6 & Canada:  6th December is their National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. (We hope this counters any impression from our previous post that we don’t treat real domestic violence seriously.) It is a timely reminder of the need constantly to defend human rights and monitor social justice levels even in a wealthy democratic nation in time of peace. The Secretary General of the UN Ban Ki- moon started in 2011 a worldwide Campaign called UNiTE to End Violence Against Women. The fact  that this a problem still without a solution is an uncomfortable message to end with – but Christmas should be a season of hope and re-commital to the goal of peace on earth!


CanLII  the “non-profit organization managed by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada” which for the last decade has been one of the significant success stories in the Free Access to Law Movement continues to improve. (In this case, thanks to Lexum, on the IT side of things.) CanLII has recently announced that you can now have an RSS feed coming in when new decisions are added to the case law database which match your previously used search.  Details on CanLII’s own post Improvement to Search tools (click here).

English search screen for CanLII

60 years ago Canada took the path of complete judicial independence from the UK. 
In 1931 the Statute of Westminster formally acknowledged the equality of the Canadian legislatures with that of Westminster. Two years later Canada amended the Supreme Court Act ending appeal to the Privy Council in criminal matters. In 1949, the Canadian Supreme Court became the final court of appeal for civil matters also.

To mark this anniversary, the Supreme Court of Canada (in cooperation with Montreal’s Faculty of Law), has made all the Supreme Court decisions which were published in the Supreme Court Reports dating back to 1948 freely available on the web.SCCan
  The collection of earlier material is not yet comprehensive, but does include all published cases decided on appeal from both the British Columbia Court of Appeal and from the Ontario Court of Appeal since 1876. 

The website allows you to browse the Supreme Court Reports by volume, by date, by neutral citation (for cases from 2000 on), by case name, by subject (drill down from a subject area eg Family Law to Divorce, Rights of Custody etc) and there are both simple search and advanced searched options. (The latter allows searches by judges.)

The site is, of course, offered in French also.


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