Note Up Legislation, Not Just Case Law

My tip follows up on Bronwyn’s recent tip about noting up case law. Noting up legislation allows you to see how courts have interpreted a specific piece of legislation; generally the court refers to a section or sections of an act or regulation rather than the entire thing.

The fact that legislation is constantly changing does add some challenges to the noting up process. When noting up legislation, keep the following things in mind:

  • Legislation changes. Legislation is constantly being amended, and a section of an act may be dramatically different after an amendment. Check that the text of the section a case is referring to reads the same as the text of the section you are interested in.
  • Section numbers change from consolidation to consolidation. Acts are renumbered when a revised consolidation is produced. Section 27 of the R.S.C. 1985 version of an act may not refer to the same thing as section 27 of the R.S.C. 1970 version of that act. If you are noting up a previous version of an act, you will need to confirm that you are noting up the correct section number.
  • As with case law, use more than one database if possible.
  • Databases differ in what they cover. All electronic databases have scope and date limitations for noting up. If you are noting up older pieces of legislation, you may have to do a full text search in order to find older cases that the note up doesn’t catch.

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