Small ideas on legal practice, research and technology

Posts Tagged ‘Legislation’

Note Up Older Legislation

Noting up legislation is straightforward. On CanLII you enter the name or citation of the act in the note up field; in Lexis Advance you enter the citation of the section you are interested in preceded by cit: (e.g. cit: SBC 2011 c 25 s 160) and in Westlaw Canada you enter the citation of the section you are interested in preceded by kc: (e.g. kc: SBC 2011 c 25 s 160).

However if you note up only the current version of the legislation you may miss out on some older but still relevant cases.

In order to …

Posted in: Research & Writing

Finding the History of a Section of the Canadian Criminal Code

This was adapted from a discussion on the CALL listserv; many thanks to Jenny Thornhill, Bronwyn Guiton and Alexandra Everitt.

Unfortunately there is no easy tool that will allow you easily track the changes to a specific section of the Criminal Code over the years, but the following two resources may be helpful:

  • Martin’s Online Criminal Code includes versions of the Criminal Code from 1955 on and is searchable.
  • Crankshaw’s Criminal Code of Canada is available both in print and online through Westlaw Canada. Bronwyn Guiton noted that “Crankshaw’s isn’t always reliable in bridging major changes in provisions however
Posted in: Research & Writing

Finding Ministerial Orders

Ministerial Orders refer to orders “created under the authority granted to a minister under a statute or regulation that are made by a Minister” as opposed to Orders in Council which are issued by the Governor General of Canada or the Lieutenant Governor of a province. 

For that reason it’s generally harder to find Ministerial Orders than Orders in Council, although this depends greatly on the province. Some provinces, such as British Columbia, make all their Ministerial Orders available in one place. For other jurisdictions you may have to look specifically at the Ministry’s website to find

Posted in: Research & Writing

Searching Older Issues of the Canada Gazette

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) …

Posted in: Research & Writing

What Is a Supplement?

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 …

Posted in: Research & Writing

Use an RSS Feed to Track the Progress of Federal Legislation

In a previous tip, I referred very briefly to the fact that the Canadian federal government and some provinces offer RSS feeds that can be used to track the progress of legislation. 

The federal RSS legislative feed is very flexible, allowing you to choose exactly what information you want to track. You can set up your feed to monitor the progress of specific (or all) bills, let you know when legislative amendments are proposed for specific acts, or see what acts have received Royal Assent. 

If you’re interested in creating your own custom RSS feed, you’ll find a box …

Posted in: Research & Writing

An Easy Way to Find Out About Foreign Legislation

If you’ve been asked to find foreign materials in a jurisdiction you know little or nothing about, GlobaLex ( provides a number of country-specific resources covering Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. Resources include an overview of the country’s legal system, links to legislation and court materials (as available), and are updated regularly.

Among the foreign materials GlobaLex includes a guide to finding U.S. federal materials which provides a very helpful overview to what is freely available for the United States.

Susannah Tredwell

Posted in: Research & Writing

Have a Copy of the Bill to Refer to When Searching Hansard

Hansard is a very useful tool when trying to determine the intent of an act. Researchers often look at a specific section of an act and what it was intended to achieve. 

However, section numbers can change from when the bill receives First Reading to when it receives Royal Assent, so it is good to confirm what the number was for the section of interest when it was in bill form. This is especially true when reading Hansard for a very long bill. In order to do that, researchers will require a copy of how the bill read for that …

Posted in: Research & Writing

How to Find a UK Royal Proclamation

This tip is based on questions posed on the CALL listserv; thanks to John Sadler and Linda Keddy.

According to “How to look for records of … Privy Council since 1386”, a finding aid produced by the United Kingdom National Archives, royal proclamations “are formal announcements made by the King or Queen and vary greatly in nature, from declarations of war or states of emergency, to the summoning or dissolution of Parliament. … [They] were usually issued with the agreement of the Privy Council and can therefore be found in Privy Council papers.”

Unfortunately no site has a …

Posted in: Research & Writing

Know the Difference Between Consolidated Acts and Annual Acts

One question that comes up on a regular basis is “why can’t I find a copy of this act on CanLII?” 

One possibility is that the act is an annual statute that only amends another act (or acts), e.g. the Human Rights Code Amendment Act, 2018, S.B.C. 2018, c. 48. Not all amendment acts appear on CanLII; it depends on the jurisdiction.

If you’re not having any luck finding an act on CanLII, and its citation does not begin with “R.S.” (for Revised Statutes), you will probably want to look at the annual statutes for that jurisdiction on …

Posted in: Research & Writing