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Legal Research

About Case Law

  • The two main components of law in Canada are Case Law and Legislation. Both are considered Primary Sources for Canadian Law.
  • Case laws are the decisions of courts, tribunals and other adjudicative bodies.
  • Court case decisions are handed down by the federal, provincial, and territorial courts.
  • They are published online databases and in print reporters.
  • In the Canadian common law system (excluding Quebec which operates under civil law) judges must follow the principle of stare decisis, which requires that judges follow the previous rulings (precedents) of other judges in higher courts in their province or territory and the Supreme Court of Canada.

Comprehensive Case Law Source: WestlawNext Canada

In WestawNext Canada you can access case law by:

  • entering the case name, keywords, etc. in the main search box.
  • search within the Canadian Abridgement Digest.
    • The Canadian Abridgment Digest provides summaries of the facts and issues of a case. Searching the digest can help you at the beginning of your research when you are exploring a case or a topic.

Comprehensive Case Law Source: Quicklaw

In Quicklaw you can access case law by:

  • entering the case name, keywords, etc. in the main search box.
  • clicking on the "Case Summaries" link on the homepage and explore the various options to search by source, jurisdiction or topic. 

Includes access to Ontario Reports, which summarizes leading cases decided at all levels of Ontario courts.

Comprehensive Case Law Source: Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII)

CanLII provides free access to case law from federal, provincial and territorial jurisdictions. You can search by keywords with documents, case name, citation, etc.