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Legal Research

Case Law - General

Case Law – Primary Source

  • Court decisions (case law) lay down a rule of law.  They are authoritative and must be followed by other judges.
  • Court decisions derive authority from the principle of stare decisis.

Stare Decisis:

  • Is the principle by which a precedent or decision of one court binds courts lower in the judicial hierarchy. 

Case Law

  • A decision of the Supreme Court of Canada is binding on all Canadian Courts, and the Supreme Court is bound by its own previous

Finding Canadian Case Law - Online

This is a list of Canadian legal databases and web sites that include case law.

Finding Canadian Case Law - Print

Finding Canadian Case Law

If a case is published it may be found in one of the many Canadian law report series:

  • Ontario Reports (O.R.)
    • North Campus Library: Call Number: KEO117.2 .O57  /  Third Series, Volumes 1-110, 1991-2012
  • Canadian Encyclopedic Digest (CED)
    • North Campus Library: Call Number: KEO142 .C3363  /  Third Edition; not updated past 1992)
  • Canadian Abridgement Digests
    • North Campus Library: Call Number: KE173 .C35  /  Third Edition; not updated past 2011
  • Supreme Court Reports (S.C.R.)
  • Canadian Criminal Cases (C.C.C.)
  • Dominion Law Report (D.L.R.)

Many cases are not published (unreported decisions)

Understanding Case Citations

  • Paine v. University of Toronto
    (1981), 34 O.R. (2d) 770
    131 D.L.R. (3d) 325 (C.A.)

  •  Reversing
    (1980), 30 O.R. (2d) 69
    111 D.L.R. (3d) 461 (H.C.)
  • Leave to appeal to S.C.C. refused (1982), 42 N.R. 270 (S.C.C)