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This prefix is overused.

Certainly in co-conspirator, where it is unnecessary, as co- and con- both import the notion of joint action.

That doesn’t stop US legislators from perpetuating the redundancy, however: see, for example, Rule 801 of the Federal Rules of Evidence (where – strike two! – it is spelt without a hyphen).

Co­- also appears a lot in modern job titles: She is co-head of the financial services practice group or The firm appointed two new co-managing partners.

This isn’t wrong, but somehow it’s not pretty – especially where the shared position has two elements like vice-president or managing partner.

Joint would be a more elegant substitute?

Neil Guthrie (@guthrieneil)


We’ve already covered the awful reference when refer to is meant (but I seem to be losing the battle in getting people to use the latter).

Two new horrors crossed the radar recently. One is reference again, but used to mean checking a candidate’s references for employment purposes. Ugh.

The second is cascade.

This is unobjectionable when used to describe what water in the fountains at Versailles does (when the fountains are actually on).

But please don’t repeat this horror in relation to e-mail: Feel free to cascade this within your organization.

One coinage I do like, and which ultimately derives from a noun (volunteer), is voluntell/voluntold. It expresses so well how things get done in law firms!

Neil Guthrie (@guthrieneil)


Library and Archives Canada (LAC) recently updated its historical Canada Gazette database to improve the search experience. This database contains the issues of the Canada Gazette published between 1841 (when it replaced the Upper Canada Gazette and the Lower Canada Gazette) and 1997. For issues of the Canada Gazette from 1998 on, go to the Canada Gazette website.

The improved keyword search means that it is easier to find orders-in-council and SI/SORs by entering their numbers into “All these words” in the Advanced Search. Searches can also be limited by publication (e.g. Canada Gazette, Part I) or by type (e.g. Supplement or Extra).

The LAC team is now working on the advanced search options as well as adding pagination for the regular issues to the results list.

Susannah Tredwell


While researching using CanLII, are you looking for documents containing one word or phrase but not another? Or maybe you are looking for documents containing an exact phrase?

Never fear, operators are here to help!

What are operators and how do I use them?

Operators are words or characters you can add to a search box to customize your search results. You may have heard of the basic Boolean operators (AND, NOT, and OR) before, but there are many more that you can use on CanLII.

Consult the table below to see a list of compatible operators, what they do to your results, and some example searches.

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Important notes:

  •  You do not have to capitalize AND, OR, and EXACT for the search engine to recognize them as operators. However, NOT should always be typed in upper case to be treated as a search operator.
  • When you do not use any operators in a CanLII search, this is equivalent to using the operator AND applying to all your search terms. The search engine will return results containing all of the terms you specified.

Good luck and happy searching!

Alex Tsang (@atsang101)

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


I think’s how the kids would express what happened to a California judge.

A better way to describe it might be ‘an embarrassing example of assuming the junior person who’s working for you will have done the proofreading in the first place, and that you don’t need to check things yourself.’

In Golo LLC v Higher Health Networks LLC (SD Calif, case number 3:18-cv-2434-GPC-MSB, 5 February 2019), Curiel USDJ sets out the standard of proof required for the claims being advanced.

At the end of one paragraph, this comment appears in parenthesis: meh I need a better rule statement than this.

The comment is perhaps that of the judge in mid-edit, but more probably that of the hapless judicial clerk who actually wrote the opinion – in which case, evidence of two proofreading failures. (And one of authorship.)

Simpsons fans will be happy, though.

Neil Guthrie (@guthrieneil)


You will notice that some citations for acts contain the abbreviation “Supp.” (short for “supplement”). An example of this would be “Competition Tribunal Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. 19 (2nd Supp.)”. But what does this mean?

The main volumes of R.S.C. 1985 contain acts that came into being before or on December 31, 1984, but R.S.C. 1985 was not brought into force until December 12, 1988. So what happened to all the legislation made between January 1, 1985 and December 11, 1988? If you guessed that they became the supplements to R.S.C. 1985 you would be correct; for example R.S.C. 1985 (1st Supp.) contains the acts that received Royal Assent in 1985 and R.S.C. 1985 (2nd Supp.) contains the acts that received Royal Assent in 1986.

The supplements to R.S.C. 1985 have different in force dates depending on which supplement they are in; the BC Courthouse Libraries has produced a helpful guide to the various in force dates.

You will also find supplements in provincial legislation, e.g. R.S.B.C. 1996 included any acts that had received Royal Assent but had not come into force as of December 31, 1996 (the cut off date for the Revised Statutes) as supplements.

Susannah Tredwell


The work of a language nerd is never done.

Possessive problems

In a recent LinkedIn posting, a fundraising person at an educational institution I attended referred to its’ proud history.

At least it wasn’t someone from the academic side.

One see it’s used (incorrectly) as a possessive. Properly, it’s is only ever a contraction for it is, but thinking it’s a singular possessive is an understandable error (if not a forgivable one).

But its’ as an ostensible singular possessive? Mind-boggling.

-S’ is reserved for possessives involving multiple parties (the articling students’ skit at the holiday party) or proper names ending in S (Davy Jones’ locker; but –s’s is also possible, as in Bridget Jones’s Diary).

Plural confusion

Also seen recently: payable in Euro’s. No! Euros, no apostrophe (and I’d prefer euros; you wouldn’t ordinarily write Pounds or Dollars).

Confusion may arise because one can pluralise some things with ‘s – but this is limited to letters and abbreviations (cross your T’s, MP’s voted yesterday).

Even there, the modern and better tendency is to omit the apostrophe (Ts, MPs), confining it to contractions and possessives.

Plural and possessive issues come to a head (as it were) in the name of a hair salon near my office: Razors Edge’s.

Neil Guthrie (@guthrieneil)


Lexbox is a supplementary tool on CanLII that can help you keep track of your legal research online by allowing you to view your browsing history, save cases, create and organize folders, and set up alerts. It is free to use the base version and signing up requires only your name, email, and a password. There is also a professional version (Premium) you can choose to subscribe to — you can click here to learn more about what’s in the two plans.

To make sure Lexbox keeps track of your search history, remember to log in to your Lexbox account whenever you are browsing CanLII. You can do this by making a search on CanLII and clicking the ‘Browse Lexbox’ drop-down menu which appears on every search page and case page. The menu contains a link that will take you to a separate login screen.

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After entering your credentials, you will be automatically redirected back to the page you were visiting on CanLII. Note that the ‘Browse Lexbox’ drop down menu now has a link labelled ‘Recent history’, along with a list of the saved documents, folders, and searches in your Lexbox account.

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When you click on “Recent history” you can review your search history within time periods when you were last active. For a more in-depth look at your search history, you can click on “View my whole history”. This will take you to your Lexbox account where you can view a list of your recent search results back to 30 days. The gavel icon indicates a case you recently visited, your past search queries are indicated by the magnifying glass icon, and a book indicates a piece of legislation. Clicking on one of these links will reload your search query. The links are organized chronologically and divided up into sections based on the browsing session you viewed them in.

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You can delete all the items recorded in your browsing history, all the items viewed in a single browsing session, or individual items at any time.

If you wish to disable Lexbox’s automatic tracking feature, you can visit your account administration profile and de-select “Record my history on supported websites” under the Preferences heading.

Good luck and happy searching!

Alex Tsang (@atsang101)

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


The other day I received that now rather unusual thing, a letter.

On the envelope, beneath my business address, was typed Attention: with my name after it.

Why is this – or why was it ever – necessary?

I suppose it helped postal delivery persons and mailroom workers a bit, but surely not that much.

My name at the top with the address after it would reach me with no problem, just like a non-business letter sent to me at my home address.

While we’re on the subject, I like addresses to go from the particular to the general:

Box, office or floor number
Street address
City, province/state

Neil Guthrie (@guthrieneil)


The availability of Canadian court information varies greatly from province to province, as do the ways in which researchers can access it.

Sarah Richmond of Alexander Holburn Beaudin + Lang LLP has put together a very helpful table of where to search for or obtain court documents from the various provinces and territories. Meris Bray, a Librarian at the University of Windsor, has converted this table into a freely-accessible webpage which can be found at

Susannah Tredwell