Check the Facts

This post first appeared on Slaw July 2, 2009 and it is still relevant advice.

In this world of super fast document retrieval it is sometimes important to remember the basics. I was just asked for a decision where the style of cause and the citation both contained errors. The “help I can’t find this case” is usually one of my favourite problems. This Thursday after a mid-week Canada Day off is a lot like a Monday.

The citation that was given to me was a 1983 case from the O.L.R.s – obviously that was incorrect as the Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviationreports that the Ontario Law Reports was published between 1901-1931 only. Rather than plugging in a citation in to the for fee electronic research service of your choice, remember to check the facts. (Yes I will be writing off the find fee).

The style of cause had a spelling error. What I should have remembered to do once I identified that the citation had an error is browse the Canadian Case Citations or the Canadian Abridgment Table of Cases for the style of cause to identify the case. Browsing a compact list like the CCC would have quickly showed a close match to the case name AND provided the proper citation. Knowing that the good research skills of the lawyer who gave me the problem would have included a full text search on CanLII for elements of the style of cause as a full text proximity search should have been a clue that there was a typo.

Just a few tips for this fine summer Thursday.

Enjoy this Winter Wednesday research tip redux.

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