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Statutes Considered

INTRODUCTION

Case law and statute law are intertwined. When a judge interprets a statute, that interpretation may become binding, according to the principles of stare decisis. Therefore, it is not sufficient to look only at the text of a statute. You must also investigate how courts have dealt with that piece of legislation. Tables of statutes judicially considered will provide you with the names of cases that have considered a particular legislative provision. Since these cases are crucial to the interpretation of statutes, they must be consulted.

A statute citator is the name given to a research tool that lists cases which have, in some way, considered or discussed a particular statute or section of a statute. This process is often referred to as "noting up a statute", or looking for "statutes judicially considered" and can be completed using print or electronic sources.
 

PRINT SOURCES

Canadian Statute Citations
(Canadian Abridgment)
Statute Citators Law Report Indexes

Loose-leaf Services and Annotated Codes

 

A.  Canadian Statute Citations (The Canadian Abridgment)

Canadian cases that have interpreted Canadian federal and provincial statutes, as well as some foreign statutes and international agreements, are listed in the Canadian Statute Citations volumes (formerly Statutes Judicially Considered) of The Canadian Abridgment. These are the grey books shelved in the reference area of the library (close to the main digest volumes of the Abridgment).

Canadian Statute Citations is the most comprehensive statute citator available in print. Its bound volumes are periodically updated and the date of currency is indicated on the spine of each volume. The main volumes are updated through more recent material which is published in annual soft-cover supplements. These are the light grey books which are shelved with each main volume. For even more current information, consult the monthly issues which are consolidated quarterly in a cumulative supplement and shelved at the end of the series.

example: Locate cases which have judicially considered s 17 of Ontario's Child and Family Services Act

1. Refer to the Appropriate Bound Volume - Check the Spine:

a) Browse the spines of the bound volumes to locate the jurisdiction you need. You will either search in "Canada" for federal statutes or by province for provincial legislation.

b) Within each jurisdiction, statutes are listed alphabetically. Given that the Child and Family Services Act is an Ontario statute, locate the Ontario Volume covering the letter C.

c) Searching alphabetically, locate the most recent version of the Child and Family Services Act and browse through to section 17.  Listed here are citations to cases that have considered or specifically referred to section 17 of the Act.

2. Refer to the Annual Soft Cover Supplement for the Appropriate Bound Volume:

a) Because the bound volume can be several years behind today's date, it is imperative to update for more current information.

b) Check if there is a light grey soft cover supplement for the volume with which you are working. If so, search alphabetically for your Act to find newer cases considering the statute section.

c) Search alphabetically as you did the main volume. Under Child and Family Services Act, locate the list of cases under s 17.

3. Update in the Cumulative Quarterly and Monthly Soft Cover Supplements:

a) Canadian Statute Citations publishes monthly supplements. These are consolidated quarterly into a cumulative supplement, shelved at the end of the series.

b) Locate your statute name and then refer specifically to s. 17 for relevant cases.

Judicial Treatment Symbols

Once you locate the relevant list of cases for your search, you will note that each case citation is preceded by a code, indicated by symbols in small circles, which quickly conveys what treatment the statute received in that decision. The following table provides a complete guide to symbol interpretation:

Symbol: Meaning: Definition:
U Unconstitutional A section of the statute has been found to be unconstitutional or invalid, in whole or in part.
C Considered A section of the statute has been analyzed or interpreted in some way.
P Pursuant to The proceeding was undertaken pursuant to a section of the statute.
R Referred to A section of a statute has been mentioned by the court but not commented on directly.

Note:

Remember that each revised statutes consolidation changes section numbers. For cases prior to the latest revised statutes, you need to check the previous version of the section number.

It is possible to search for cases which have considered a statute generally or more specifically as in a particular part or section of that act. The citator lists information in a more general to more specific format. For example, cases judicially considering the Child and Family Services Act as a whole are listed prior to cases considering particular section numbers.

B.  Statute Citators

The following citators contain references to selected cases that have considered federal or Ontario statutes. These citators are not nearly as comprehensive in listing cases as Canadian Statute Citations but they do remain somewhat useful for finding major cases on point.

1.  Canada Statute Citator, RSC 1985 Edition

This loose-leaf service supplies references to a small selection of cases which the editors judge to be particularly important in interpreting sections of federal statutes. The Acts are listed alphabetically by short title, and for each a complete citation is provided including statutory provisions. The text of the amendments is also included, along with the case references where judged appropriate.

2.  Ontario Statute Citator, RSO 1990 Edition

Like the Canada Statute Citator, this is a loose-leaf service organized alphabetically by statute short title, giving citations to the R.S.O. 1990 and later statutes to date; the text of all amendments, and a selection of cases from 1991 which have considered Ontario statutes.

C.  Law Report Indexes

Many law report series also include tables of statutes judicially considered in their consolidated index volumes. This approach could be useful if you are researching a statute in a subject area for which there is a specialized law report series. For example, a section of the Criminal Code will be indexed in the two criminal report series, Canadian Criminal Cases and Criminal Reports. Similarly, cases which have considered a section of the Ontario Municipal Act will be indexed in the Ontario Municipal Board Reports, and so on.

D.  Loose-leaf Services and Annotated Codes

Major statutes (e.g. tax, labour, criminal, corporations, family) have commercially published loose-leaf services or annotated statutes which contain the text of the legislation and refer to cases. Check QCAT.

 

Westlaw Canada: Citing References

Westlaw Canada has a shortcut to finding cases that have considered a section of a statute. In the same way you can keycite a case, you can keycite a statutory provision by bringing up the relevant section and then examining the "Citing References" attached to it.

1. From the main page, under "Find/Keycite a Document," enter the legislation title, section number, and jurisdiction. Click "go."
2. From the results, choose the relevant statute and section.
3. Your selected section will be displayed in the main frame of the page. Click on "Citing References" in the menu on the left.
4. Cases that cite that section will then be displayed.

LexisNexis Quicklaw

LexisNexis Quicklaw has developed an online citator for finding cases that have considered a statute (part A); however, it only covers cases from 1992 onward. If you need greater case coverage than that, you will also need to use the boolean searching method described in Part B.

A. QuickCITE Statute Citator (for cases 1992-)

1. Go to the red "Legislation" tab.
2. Choose "QuickCITE Statute Citator."
3. From here, you can enter the title and/or citation of the statute as well as the section number.

B. Boolean Searching in Case Law Databases (for cases before 1992)

There is no comprehensive "statutes considered" database on Quicklaw. Rather, one must choose the most suitable caselaw database depending on topic or jurisdiction relevant to the legislation being updated, and then search in boolean mode. The main advantage to using Quicklaw is that many databases are both comprehensive and current.

Example:

Locate cases judicially considering section 17 of the Child and Family Services Act.

1. Choose the full text case law database which is most relevant to your statute:

  • To search for earlier cases considering the Child and Family Services Act which is an Ontario statute, conduct a search under the "Cases" tab. You can limit the jurisdiction to Ontario.

2. Construct a Search Statement, in Boolean mode:

  • Judges are imprecise when referring to section numbers in judgments. For example, a judge may use 17, 17(1) or 17 (1) to refer to the same section. Therefore it is necessary to incorporate this possibility into your Boolean search statement. To search a section number, use the following format:

    "child and family services act" /15 17!

(Literally translated this statement will search for cases containing the phrase "child and family services act" within fifteen words of 17 or 17(plus various sections or sub-sections))

  • As an alternative to searching by section numbers, you may use distinctive words from the section. For example, s. 17 defines the duties of a director with respect to Children's Aid Societies:

    "child and family services act" /20 director /10 societ!

This statement will search as above for the phrase "child and family services act", and in addition Quicklaw will search for the distinctive terms "director" within twenty words and "societ" with various endings (society, societies) within ten words.

3. Browse Through Your Search Results:

  • Once you have run your search statement, view results by "search terms in context" (the drop-down menu at the top of the screen) so you can quickly through the cases containing your search terms. This method of searching is imprecise, so, for example, cases discussing the Child and Family Services Act and mentioning "17" in any other context will also appear in your search results (e.g., paragraph 17, September 17, section 172, etc.). Therefore, you will need to scan through all your results to find cases right on point.

Hints & Tips:

Remember that specific section numbers will change with every new revised statutes edition. To access historical information, you must consult an older edition of revised statutes to ascertain the previous section numbers used.

Quicklaw is sensitive to spaces. As a general rule, do not enter "s" (for "section"). Simply enter the section numbers as in the examples above.

Example:

Find cases judicially considering section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

1. Choose the full Text Case Law Database which is Most Relevant to Your Statute:

  • Given that the Charter is a federal statute,  use the default database under the "Cases" tab - "All Canadian Court Cases."

2. Construct a Search Statement:

  • Search by section number: charter /2 rights /10 15!
  • Search by distinctive words: charter /2 rights /20 equality discrimination

3. Browse Through Search Results:

  • View results by "search terms in context" (the drop-down menu at the top of the screen) so you can quickly through the cases containing your search terms.

4. Consider more terms when searching for common statutes and sections:

  • Section 15 of the Charter has been litigated many times. In order to retrieve a manageable number of cases, consider adding further search terms reflecting the context that you are interested in. For example, is it a case of discrimination in the workplace? Is it case of discrimination because of gender? etc. Add these types of words to your search.

Last Updated: 13 February 2014