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Wednesday, August 11th, 2021 technology  research  practice

A Research Tip

  • Research & Writing

Applying filters to your search results is a great way of narrowing them down and can help save time you might otherwise spend scrolling through hundreds or even thousands of results!

The search filters bar is accessible at the top of every search results page and features four primary filter tabs (All CanLII, Cases, Legislation and Commentary), each with their own set of subfilter categories.

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Screencap of CanLII search fields and primary filter tabs.

The number beside each filter indicates how many documents on CanLII are in each category. This number changes after you use the search fields and when you apply search filters. You can apply multiple filters at the same time to narrow down your results.

Screencap of expanded 'jurisdiction' subfilter tab.

Here is a breakdown of the various filters and subfilters and what they do, followed by an example search at the end of this post:

  • “All CanLII” — search results will contain all content types on CanLII; applied by default.
    • Filter your results by jurisdiction (i.e. results only from federal courts or from certain provinces and territories)
    • Option to include or to not include commentary in results (i.e. case and statutory law only)
  • “Cases” — search results will contain only case law
    • Filter cases by jurisdiction
    • Filter cases by court/tribunal type or a specific court/tribunal
    • Filter cases by decision date
      • Six general filters (decisions made in the last week, last three months, last year, etc.)
      • Two customizable filters (decisions made on a specific date and decisions made between two dates).

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Screencap of expanded 'case courts and tribunals' and 'case decision date' subfilter tabs.

  • “Legislation” — search results will contain only statutory law
    • Filter legislation by jurisdiction
    • Filter legislation by type (i.e. consolidated, annual, regulations, etc.)
    • Filter legislation by version or by date of effect

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Screencap of expanded 'legislation type' and 'legislation version' subfilter tabs.

  • “Commentary” — search results will contain only legal commentary
    • Filter commentary by subject (i.e. contracts, intellectual property, property and trusts, etc.)

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Screencap of expanded 'commentary subject' subfilter tab.

    • Filter commentary by content type (i.e. books, reports, journal articles, etc.)
    • Filter by publication year (similar format as decision date filter for cases)

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Screencap of expanded 'commentary content' and 'commentary publication' subfilter tabs.

Sample search:

You’re looking for British Columbia appeal court case texts from within the past year involving wrongful dismissal.

  1. Input “wrongful dismissal” with quotation marks around the search terms into the first search field on the CanLII main page. The quotation marks are search operators that will limit your results to documents that include the phrase “wrongful dismissal” or variants on it. For more information on using operators in your CanLII searches, check out this tip.
  2. Click on the ‘Cases’ tab.
  3. Add the ‘British Columbia’ subfilter from the ‘Jurisdictions’ dropdown menu.
  4. Add the ‘Appeal courts’ subfilter from the ‘Courts and tribunals’ dropdown menu.
  5. Add the ‘Last year’ subfilter from the ‘Date’ dropdown menu.

Voilà! This will provide you with a results list of all the BC cases on CanLII discussing wrongful dismissal in the past year.

Alex Tsang (@atsang101)

[This tip first appeared on the CanLII blog and is also available in French]

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