Finding and Researching Cases

The Canadian legal system uses both legislation created by Parliament and the provincial legislatures and cases decided by judges as important sources of law. Formal decisions of judges are published in printed law reports. These decisions will often provide an interpretation and application of the legislation. Note that not every decision is reported and formally published, some are delivered orally.

Court decisions may also be referred to as judgments, reasons for judgment, or reasons. These are different than court orders which are generally only available directly from the court that issued the order and not available online.

Reasons for judgment can be delivered immediately or reserved, when reserved the matter will be considered before the judge issues the judgment either in writing or orally.

Written court decisions or judgments can be found online and/or in print law reports. Published law reports may be organized geographically (e.g. Alberta Reports, Western Weekly Reports) or by subject matter (e.g. Motor Vehicle Reports, Canadian Criminal Cases). The Supreme Court of Canada has its very own reports series, the Supreme Court Reports.

For most provinces, decisions from about the late-1990s onwards are available online for free.

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