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Canadian Legal Research

Structure of Canadian Court System

Canadian Court System, courtesy of Department of Justice Canada

Photo courtesy of Department of Justice Canada

While the provincial and territorial superior courts can hear all matters except those which are specifically excluded by statute, the Federal Court may only hear matters that are precisely mentioned by federal statute.

Case Law


Locating decisions of the federal and provincial courts in Canada

Decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada are published in print within the Supreme Court Reports (KE 140 .A23) and the Dominion Law Reports (KE 132 .A23). Online access is also available to the decisions of the Supreme Court and to the federal courts.

Additionally, some regional reporters report cases from multiple provinces, such as the Western Weekly Reports (KE 156 .W47). The law school library also has access to its predecessor, Western Law Reporter ( Harvard Depository CAN 503 WES) for researchers looking for earlier decisions.


Decisions of administrative tribunals may be found in print and online. In print, they are published within the Administrative Law Reports (KE 5015.A45 A35). 



Where to find Canadian Case Law

Harvard Law Library currently relies on online sources for current materials on case law. We also have an extensive archive collection of reporters in print, which can be used for research purposes.

Canadian Supreme Court Cases

Federal and Provincial Court Cases

If You Don't Have a Citation but Still Need to Find a Case

Making Sure Your Case is Still Good Law and Finding Citing Cases/References

In Canada, they call this process "noting up." Online services such as KeyCite and Shepards on Westlaw and Lexis may be used. Quicklaw also has its own version of these services called QuickCite. For those researchers who are used to only Keyciting or Shepardizing US law, it should be noted that not as much detail is given as to how cited cases are referenced in later cases, or by secondary sources.