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.

The Library Service now has a brand new way of accessing online resources: Oxlip+    This new service will allow you to access all legal databases (including Westlaw and Lexis) from off campus without using the VPN.  All you will need is your Oxford single sign on (webmail) username and password. 

Please note – if you prefer to continue using the VPN and/or Westlaw password over the summer you are welcome to do so.

To use the new system go to   

1.  First log in to Oxlip+ (top right corner):

 2.  You will be prompted to enter you Oxford Single Sign on username and password (this is the same as your Oxford webmail username and password).  Once you have entered these successfully click “continue to” (this is the only option!).

3.  You will now be taken back to Oxlip+.  Enter the name of the database you wish to use in the search box and click “Go”. You will now be taken to the database.

Choosing a database

Choosing a database

4.  Alternatively to browse a list of legal resources click “subject” and choose Law.

Need journals?  You should continue to use Oxford University e-Journals to access online journals. If you are off campus you will be prompted for your single sign on details after you have selected a journal.

The new Oxlip+ service is in beta.  We hope you will find it easy to use and convenient but if you do have problems or suggestions please contact us

31 July

31 July

The Athens service will be withdrawn on 31 July 2008.  Here’s what you need to do to ensure that you can access legal databases afer 31 July.

If you’re on campus:   You will not need a username and password for Lexis or Westlaw during the next few weeks.   However, the web address for Lexis (and possibly Westlaw) will change. Please follow links from the Law Library’s web site or Oxlip rather than your own favourites or Google.

Be sure to cancel your Lexis alerts before 31 July. You will not be able to cancel them after that date but you will keep receiving the e-mails! > more.

Off campus?

Lexis and Westlaw off campus:   You will  need to use the VPN to access Lexis and Westlaw after 31 July.  Please see our VPN instructions for more information.   Alternatively you can use “the Westlaw” password.   A reminder of this has been sent to the Faculty mailling list.   If the VPN doesn’t work for you please contact us and we will make alternative arrangements for you.     

HeinOnline, Justis, Social Science Citation Index, Zetoc & CSA off campus:   You  will be able to log in to these databases using your Oxford Single Sign on (OSS) username and password (same as Webmail).     When you link to these databases you will probably be taken straight to a login page asking for your OSS details. If not,  look out for links to “UK Access Federation”,  “Shibboleth” or “Academic log in”.    Alternatively you can use the VPN instead of using your OSS.   Again if you can’t log on to any of thee databases please contact us.

All databases: the URLS of some databases will change over the next few weeks. Please follow links from the Law Library’s list of legal databases or Oxlip rather than using bookmarks or Google.

The future: The Library services is working on a new service which will allow you to log on to all databases using your OSS regardless of whether you are on or off campus.  We hope that this service will be available in early August. Watch this blog for more information.

Computer frustration by Sybren StuvelDo you have Lexis alerts, scheduled searches or updates? If so, you need to cancel them before 31 July or you may end up keeping them for ever.

Your Lexis alerts (aka scheduled searches and updates) are associated with your Athens ID which will be withdrawn on 31 July. Unfortunately whilst your alerts may continue after 31 July you may not be able to change or cancel them. You are therefore strongly advised to cancel them before 31 July.

What about Lexis favourites? If you have saved particular sources or publications as favourites on Lexis unfortuntely these will not appear in your favourites or sources list after 31 July. There is no need to cancel these as they will simply disappear once you no longer use Athens to log in. You will be able to set up new favourites later in the summer.

I’m not sure whether I get Lexis alerts or not? Do you get regular e-mails from Lexis with the subject heading “LexisNexis(R) Butterworths alert” or” Lexis Nexis Butterworths Update”? If so, you have Lexis alerts.

Cancelling Lexis AlertsHow do I cancel them?

  1. Log in to Lexis in the normal way and click “My research”.
  2. You will see two tabs “Updates” and “Scheduled Searches”. Choose “Scheduled searches”.
  3. Put a tick in the box next to each search.
  4. Choose “Delete selected items” at the top of the page.
  5. Once you’ve done that click “Updates”. Again put a tick in the box next to each update and choose “Delete selected items”. The job is now done.

Can I set up new alerts? Yes you will be able to set up new alerts on Lexis later in the year once Lexis has finished work on the new logging in process. However, there may be a period in July and August when it is not possible to set up alerts. Please rest assured that you will be able to use Lexis during this period. We will let you know as soon as it is possible to set up alerts again.

What about my Lexis favourites? – If you have saved favourite sources or publications on Lexis unfortunately these will not appear as favourites after 31st July. You will be able to set up new favourite sources once Lexis has finished work on the new logging in process later this summer. Watch this space for more news!

Want to know more about the withdrawal of Athens. Please see “All Change Please

Credits: Picture of a frustrated computer user “threesixtyfive | day 244” by Sybren Stüvel (

Photo of a pc on the beach by Scott AblemanFrom 31 July we will no longer be able to use Athens to log on to legal databases.  By October we will have a new system which will make logging on painless. However during the summer we will be in a transition phase.   During this time routes through to some databases (and particularly Lexis, Westlaw and HeinOnline) may change more than once.


Keep up to date with the changes – To ensure that you are able to access legal databases over the summer please look through the notes below.  In addition please check your Oxford e-mail and/or  this blog regularly for updates.  In addition updates will be noted on our “password update” web page and on Oxlip.

Using Lexis and Westlaw away from Oxford  –  if you want to use Lexis and Westlaw after 31st July from off campus you will probably have to use the OUCS VPN.    It is highly probable that this will be the only way of accessing Lexis and Westlaw from outside the Oxford network after July 31st. 

If at all possible you are advised to install the VPN on your computer before you leave Oxford – since this will allow you to get help should you encounter problems.     Please see our instructions on installing and using the VPN.    

If you would like help installing and using the VPN please come to a drop in session in the Freshfields Room during 8th week at one of the following times Tues 10 June 2-4pm, Wed 11th June 3-5pm, Thurs 12 June 2-4pm, Fri 13 June 10am-12 noon, 2-4pm. Alternatively make an appointment by e-mailing

Changes to web addresses   – The URLs for some databases are likely to change during the summer so be sure to follow links from the Law Library’s list of legal databases or Oxlip rather than using your own bookmarks or Google.   If you do use your own bookmarks and find that you are denied access it is likely that we are using a different login page.  Check legal databases or Oxlip to find out.

Lexis Alerts – Unfortunately any Lexis alerts or personlised pages that you have set up using your Athens account will not be available after 31 July.   You will be able to set up new alerts later in the year (although it is not clear when at the moment – watch this space).   It is important to remove your alerts from Lexis before 31 July – once Athens has disappeared you will never be able to cancel them but you’ll still receive the e-mails! We’ll remind you about this nearer the time.

If you can’t log on to a database please let us know by e-mailing or by telephone (01865) 271472.   

What will happen in the future?  – OULS are currently working on a  brand new gateway to electronic resources.  This will offer a wide range of services including a single username and password (the Oxford single sign on) for all databases.  Advance versions of the new interface may be available during the summer.  If you’d like to start using the new system as soon as its available watch this space for more information!

Photograph of “The Office” by Scott Ableman (

Many students ask me whether they should use Lexis, Westlaw or Justis.  Unfortunately, it’s more complicated than that and in reality you will need to use all three, plus a whole heap of other resources if you want to be thorough. However, here are some tips which might help you to decide whether to start with Lexis, Westlaw or Justis when you looking for UK and EU materials. In my next post I will look at Lexis or Westlaw for jurisdictions beyond the UK.


The publications covered by Lexis, Westlaw and Justis overlap considerably. However, each database also has unique publications. This is the main reason why you are likely to end up using all three.

Judgments – In terms of UK judgments Lexis, Westlaw and Justis all include the full text of The Law Reports (the most authoritative source of UK judgments) back to their inception in 1865. However, beyond that coverage varies.  To give just a few examples, Justis has the English Reports (pre 1865 cases) and Weekly Law Reports, Westlaw has Criminal Appeals Reports and Environmental Law Reports and Lexis has the All England Law Reports and Simons Tax Cases.

To find out which database holds a particular series of reports use the Law Library’s “Law Reports look up tool“  This will tell you which database(s) hold the series you are looking for and the shelf mark of the print copy in the Library.

Legislation – The situation with legislation is much simpler. Both Lexis and Westlaw include all statutes and statutory instruments which are still in force with all the amendments and repeals written into the text. They make them available in full as pdfs and broken down into sections and they both offer added citator information such as commencement and “in force” information, judicial consideration and related commentary. One important difference is that Westlaw’s Historic Statutes service allows you to track changes to statutes from 1991 onwards (and to statutory instruments from 1944 onwards).  This service is not available on Lexis.

By contrast Justis reproduces legislation as enacted and includes repealed legislation.  When you’re using Justis its important to be aware that its legislation is not current.

Articles and books – When you are looking for commentary the choice is between Lexis and Westlaw as Justis does not carry commentary. Lexis and Westlaw’s coverage is completely different.  This is largely because they are both significant print publishers and each makes its own print publications available online.  Lexis is Butterworths and Westlaw is Sweet and Maxwell/Thomson and so anything that is published by Butterworths will only be on Lexis and anything published by Sweet and Maxwell/Thomson will only be on Westlaw.   Titles from other publishers may be on one or both databases or neither.  

If you’re looking for a journal your best bet is to look it up on Oxford University e-Journals.  This covers journals on Lexis and a huge number of other databases (but unfortunately not Westlaw).   Make sure that you enter full words from the journal title (not the article title, author or an abbreviation) and don’t use the citation search which generally doesn’t work for legal databases!   If your journal doesn’t turn up on Oxford University e-Journals, then it may be on Westlaw. To check follow the link to “Westlaw journals” in the side bar of the Oxford University e-Journals page. This will take you to a clickable A-Z of UK journals on Westlaw.  

Unfortunately there is no equivalent to Oxford University e-Journals for e-books and texts at present. To find these you simply have to check Lexis and Westlaw (plus other databases which hold commentary such as MyiLibrary and HeinOnline – there will be more on these in later posts).

Commentary is pretty easy to find on Westlaw just follow the “Commentary” link in the top bar. On Lexis it is more difficult – first choose “Commentary” from the top bar and then choose “More sources” to see a complete A-Z of titles. Highlights on Lexis include Halsbury’s Laws of England, Harvey on Industrial Relations, Simons Direct Tax Service, Hill and Redman’s Law of Landlaw and Tenant and Macdonald’s Immigration Law and Practice but there are many many more titles. Westlaw has fewer commentary titles but its Common Law Library has Chitty on Contract, Clerk and Lindsell on Torts, Dicey, Morris & Collins on The Conflict of Laws and Benjamin’s Sale of Goods as well as the Civil Procedure Rules and several key texts in the areas of copyright and trademarks.

EU primary materials  – Looking towards Europe, Lexis, Westlaw and Justis have excellent coverage of EU primary materials.    All three include the European Commission’s Celex database which holds treaties, legislation, preparatory legislation, parliamentary documents and cases.   In addition to this Westlaw includes the prestigious Common Market Law Reports and Lexis includes All England Law Reports European Cases.

ECHR – Turning to the European Court of Human Rights Lexis, Justis and Westlaw all cover its judgments.  Justis has the Official Reports whilst Westlaw has the European Human Rights Reports. Both of these can be cited with equal authority according to OSCOLA. 

Indexes and citators –  Both Lexis and Westlaw offer a range of indexes and citators which can be extremely useful for research. For primary materials Westlaw has its excellent case and legislation analysis documents (which for print users are an online equivalent of the Current Law Service).  Lexis has its Casesearch service for case law and the prestigious Halsbury’s Statutes Citator for legislation.    For secondary materials, Westlaw has Legal Journals Index which indexes over 1000 UK and EU journals and which is a great place to start your literature search.

Interface and added services

Which interface you prefer is really a matter of taste.  Many prefer Westlaw’s clean look and feel to the busy pages on Lexis. However, it is worth remembering that you can customise Lexis to suit your own preferences whilst academic customers can not at present customise Westlaw. 

To customise Lexis so that it displays your favourite publications and resources when you log on choose “Sources”, check the publications which you want to appear and click “Save as a favourite” – there will be more on customising Lexis in a later post.

Lexis also steals a march on Westlaw by making its alerting service open to academic customers, something which Westlaw has not offered yet. To use it click the “My Research” tab, followed by “Alerts” or alternatively use the alarm clock icon to save your searches as alerts as you go along.

If you have any comments on which database you prefer please comment on this post.


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