I recently sat down with CanLII’s Manager of Content and Partnerships, Sarah Sutherland, to learn what’s new and to ask some common CanLII questions I get from my own users — chief among them being “Are there any decisions I should know about that aren’t on CanLII?”
There’s no one single tip here today, but in the spirit of SlawTips, this is a short read that we hope will be informative and help you work smarter!
Q (Bronwyn Guiton): What sorts of decisions would readers be surprised to learn aren’t actually available on CanLII?
A (Sarah Sutherland): Most routine matters aren’t written up in decisions, so the information related to them is not generally publicly available online. This means that the information available on CanLII (or any source of caselaw) for subjects like sentencing is mostly for unusual matters and outcomes.
Q: Are there areas of CanLII’s decisions collections that readers might be surprised to learn about the depth or breadth of?
A: We have content going back to the 19th century and are regularly adding more historical content.
Q: CanLII just added Federal and Quebec annual statutes to the site. What do you see as the value added there?
A: This is content that people are already looking for on CanLII, so adding it makes the site more complete. When annual statutes are passed they are added to CanLII, but as the sections that amend other acts come into force they are removed from the acts they came from in the consolidated legislation collections and only appear in the amended acts. Adding annual statutes allows researchers to find this content more easily.
Q: These days, most barristers are comfortable submitting the CanLII PDF’s of decisions to court, but they still copy older decisions from print reporters. Do you see that changing at all as time goes on?
A: I think that as the legal profession generally gets more comfortable with electronic files and confident that others will be too, native electronic files will be more commonly used. Judges are in a strong position to influence this transition. In The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company v High Park Medical & Rehabilitation Centre Ltd, 2015 ONSC 5169, Justice Myers wrote “Scanning and emailing pdf copies of case law is one of the biggest wastes of the profession’s collective time.”
My thanks to Sarah Sutherland for answering these CanLII questions for SlawTips.