Finding cases from Canada

November 2, 2010

Finding cases from Canada has gotten much easier in recent years with the addition of online resources.  Both the Bluebook (19th ed.) and the Canadian Citation Committee now require a neutral citation if one exists.  Neutral citations are in the format of case name, year [no brackets], court abbreviation (no periods), and document number.  The court abbreviation is chosen by the court, and most Canadian courts have chosen their neutral citation abbreviation.  Document number is usually a chronological number assigned to the decision.  Parallel citations may follow the neutral citation if one (or more) exists.  For example, Canada (Prime Minister) v. Khadr, 2010 SCC 3, [2010] 1 S.C.R. 44.  This citation can easily by found on CanLII and can lead you to the proper neutral citation (SCC) and a parallel print citation (S.C.R.).

There are still plenty of print reporters to wander through as well. Cases from the Supreme Court of Canada can be found in two reporters in order of Bluebook preference:

Other Federal Court cases are generally found in these reporters:

  • Federal Court Reports (1971 - current) - KE138 .A21971
    • from 1971 - 2003, the abbreviation is F.C.
    • beginning in 2004, the abbreviation is now F.C.R.
  • Exchequer Court Reports (1875 - 1971) - Canada 36 Ex241

Many of the Canadian cases are online, free, and official. 

CanLII is extremely helpful for sourcecites and bookpulls because it gives not only the neutral citation but also parallel citations. See, for example, Canada (Prime Minister) v. Khadr, 2009 FC 405 (April 23, 2009), 2009 FC 405 (CanLII), [2010] 1 F.C.R. 34, 188 C.R.R. (2d) 342, 341 F.T.R. 300.

Other online resources for finding Canadian cases are:

  • Quicklaw (subscription)
  • Westlaw and Lexis (passwords)

As always, please do not hesitate to see a librarian for assistance!

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