Monitoring a Case Law Subject With CanLII

Sometimes it is important to know about every single new Canadian case on a particular topic.  Often it is best if you know about these cases as soon as possible.  This research tip offers an “as soon as possible” option with some creative use of CanLII.

  1. determine your search strategy (narrow it as musch as possible)
  2. run your search using CanLII’s – limiting to caselaw from the court levels and jurisdictions you need to watch
  3. sort your results by decision date
  4. copy and paste the resulting URL into your electronic calendar, and set a schedule to re-run your search
  5. keep track of the most recent case that appears in your result (or top five, just to be sure)

Voila, a quick method for reviewing cases on a subject.

I chose to offer this tip with a CanLII search since it is available without a subscription.  Both LexisNexis Quicklaw and Westlaw Canada offer notifications of new items that meet search criteria as well.


  1. Great tip Shaunna!

    You can even go further by copying the URL in to get an RSS Feed.

  2. One extra step you might consider between 4 and 5: save the resulting URL as a bookmark. I keep my daily/weekly searches as buttons on my bookmark toolbar. Each time I click the button (open the bookmark), my search is run.

  3. What (if anything) do you put in the date field? It seems to me that putting “2011” works well for the purpose of monitoring.

  4. In the CAIJ’s JuriBistroTM CONCERTO search tool, it is possible to create an RSS feed from a specific query in caselaw and legal text searches. Simply enter a search query in natural language and then click on the RSS logo at the top of the page.

  5. Hi Shaunna:

    Just to clarify, when you put it into an electronic calendar, is this to remind you to manually run the search, or are you somehow automating it? If so, what kind of calendar software are you using?

    Thank you,

  6. I make an outlook repeatting calendar item that has the URL for the search and also has the last 5 or 6 most recent cases pasted in. Because CanLII collects decisions from a variety of sources, an AB case with a Jan 31 decision date may appear in CanLII before an ON case with a February 10 decision date (just a rough example)

    The claendar item does 2 things:
    1. reminds be to manually run the search
    2. lets me keep some contextual notes with the reminder.

    Hope that makes sense.

  7. Okay, thanks Shaunna! I also like Xavier’s tip about creating an RSS feed (the first comment above) so that might get rid of the need to manually run searches.


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