Canadian Law

Over the last two decades Canada's constitutional and judicial institutions have evolved into a legal system much like that of the US. Canada has a federal system with legal authority divided between federal and provincial legislatures and courts. Provincial courts have the authority to create divergent common law precedents. The national legislature can preempt local statutory and judge-made law (and has done so in areas that are not considered in the US to be traditional arenas of federal law, e.g. criminal procedure and family law). Canada also has a bill of fundamental rights, the Charter of Rights, that is interpreted by the Supreme Court, and can be used to strike down legislation obnoxious to its principles. Thus, in order to adequately research a legal issue in Canadian law, one must consult a variety of regional and national sources of law.
  • Statutes


    The Statutes of Canada, located in the Sub-Basement (SB-18), are published in English and French based on the regnal year. They are codified in the Revised Statutes of Canada, 1985 (SB-18), which is supplemented by additional volumes. The RSC is not indexed, but the topical table of contents in the front of each volume is a satisfactory, if meager, finding aid. To determine if a statute is still in force or to find cases interpreting it, consult the Canadian Statute Citations (SB-11) and the Statutes Judicially Considered volumes of the Canadian Abridgement (SB-11) (See below). The Statutes of Canada are available on-line from the Department of Justice Canada. Please see the official website for the text of the statutes.


    The Law Library does not subscribe to provincial statutes and codes. However, the full text of all Canadian Provincial Statues are available on-line. They can be found by clicking on the name of the province below.

    Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Yukon

  • Cases

    Canada has a efficient case reporting system. Federal cases are reported in the Canadian Supreme Court Reports (SB-11), Canadian Federal Court Reports (SB-11) and the National Reporter (SB-16 & 17). The Dominion Law Reports (SB-12) report cases from all Canadian courts. The Alberta (SB-14), Manitoba (SB-14), New Brunswick (SB-14), Nfld. & P.E.I. (SB-15), Nova Scotia (SB-15), Ontario (SB-15), Saskatchewan (SB-16) and Western Weekly (SB-16) Reports all report provincial cases.

    The primary Canadian case finding tool is the Canadian Abridgement (SB-11). For detailed instructions on using the CA, consult the Canadian Abridgement Bulletin (Binder, SB-11; see esp. the Short Guide), the Guide to Research Using the Canadian Abridgement (red softcover, SB-11), or the wall charts affixed to the front of SB-11 to SB-18. In addition, most of the national and all of the provincial reporters are digested and indexed, as are topical reporters like the Canadian Rights Reporter (SB-17), Canadian Criminal Cases (SB-13) and Reports of Family Law (SB-17). To see if the cases you find are still good law, consult Canadian Case Citations (SB-11). Case law from Canadian Provinces can easily be located on the internet through Findlaw. The dates of coverage for each court are different, but most courts have their opinions on-line beginning in the late 1990's.

  • Charter of Rights

    The Charter brought a new dimension to Canadian jurisdiction and has been the source much litigation, particularly in the fields of criminal procedure and free speech. For the text of the Charter, as well as detailed annotations of cases, see the Canadian Charter of Rights Annotated (SB-17). The Charter of Rights is available on-line from the Department of Justice Canada. It can be found on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms page.

  • Regulations

    Canadian administrative rules are codified in the Consolidated Regulations of Canada (SB-20). The set is not indexed, but the last volume has a detailed outline of the contents. The Regulations for Canada as a whole can be found at the Department of Justice Canada's website. The library does not carry the regulations for the individual Canadian Provinces, however, all of the Provinces except Prince Edward Island have their regulations available on-line. Please see below.

    Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Yukon

  • Legislative History

    The Law Library has a number of reports and publications of the Law Reform Commission of Canada (SB-17) and the Uniform Law Conference of Canada (SB-18).

  • Periodicals

    The Law Library subscribes to most of the major Canadian legal journals. They are comprehensively indexed in the Index to Canadian Legal Literature volumes of the Canadian Abridgement (SB-11). (Many are indexed in major American indexes, including the Index of Legal Periodicals). Canadian periodicals are shelved with the general periodicals on the second floor; recent issues must be obtained from the circulation desk.

  • Treatises

    Treatises on Canadian law are classified as KE's and are found with other law treatises in the basement.

Bibliography: M.A. Banks et al, Banks on Using a Law Library (6th ed. 1994) (KE 250 .B36 1994).