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Legal Research Manual

This edition of Legal Research Manual builds on many previous editions. While the manual is designed principally for use with the first year legal research classes, upper year law students will also find it a useful reference.

Print Sources

There are two types of print sources that can be used to note up a case:

  1. Canadian Abridgment Canadian Case Citations (the most comprehensive source)
  2. Individual Law Report Indexes

Please note that since these services are updated periodically on a print schedule, they will not be as up-to-date as online options.

1. Canadian Case Citations

Canadian Case Citations (CCC), a component of the Canadian Abridgment, is the most widely-known print source for locating judicial consideration of cases in Canada. The CCC volumes are usually shelved near the rest of the Abridgment. The set consists of hardcover volumes accompanied by soft-cover supplements to each volume and to the set as a whole. Cases throughout the CCCs are arranged in alphabetical order. The general method of using the CCCs is to locate a case in the appropriate hardcover volume and update it by using the corresponding soft-cover supplements.

Each entry in the CCC starts with the case name entry followed by one citation or sometimes by a list of parallel citations. The case history information is next, followed by Citing References. A complete list of the "history terms" used in Canadian Case Citations is provided below:

Affirmed - Decision affirmed on appeal or on reconsideration; or application for judicial review refused.

Amended - Correction of wording of decision by decision maker to conform to intended meaning.

Additional reasons - Additional reasons for decision.

Allowed leave to appeal - Leave to an appellate court allowed.

Refused leave to appeal - Leave to appeal to an appellate court refused.

Referred for further consideration or clarification - Decision referred back by an appellate court to lower level for further consideration or clarification.

Reconsideration or rehearing granted - Application for reconsideration or rehearing of decision by same court granted.

Reconsideration refused - Application for reconsideration or rehearing of decision by same court refused.

Reversed - Decision reversed on appeal or on reconsideration.

Set aside or quashed - Decision set aside or quashed.

Varied - Decision varied or modified by either the decision maker or an appellate court without reversing the result.

Treatment Symbols

Following the case history information, Canadian Case Citations gives a list of cases that have considered that decision. Every citation in this list is preceded by a circled letter that indicates the treatment the original case received. These letters allow a researcher to focus on only those specific cases needed. Refer to the following list for a complete guide to the treatment codes used by the CCCs:

'F' - Followed. The principle in the cited decision was adopted.

'D' - Distinguished. Cited decision was inapplicable because of difference in facts or law.

'N' - Not Followed / Overruled. The cited decision was deliberately not followed or was wrongly decided.

'C' - Considered. Some consideration was given to the cited decision.


Note up the following case using Canadian Case Citations:

Vorvis v Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, [1989] 1 SCR 1085.

a. Refer to the appropriate hardcover volume containing the case:

  • The volumes are arranged alphabetically and cover cases decided from 1867-July 1998
  • Locate the volume that contains cases beginning with the letter V.
  • Under the entry for Vorvis are listed cases that have judicially considered it.
  • Check the date on the hardcover copy. This will let you know how current this information is. You'll then have to locate the soft-cover supplements which will bridge the gap between the latest date on the hardcover volumes and today's date.

b. Refer to the soft-cover supplement for the appropriate hardcover volume:

  • These supplements are shelved with the corresponding main volume.
  • Cases are arranged alphabetically. Locate Vorvis and continue the noting up process by viewing other cases in which the decision was judicially considered.
  • Check the date. This will let you know how current the information is and if there is any gap between the latest date on the soft-cover supplements and today's date.

c. Update with the quarterly soft-cover supplement and the most recent monthly issues:

  • Look up the case name in the same fashion in the quarterly and monthly soft cover updates for the whole set.
  • Once again, check the dates to make sure you are covering the dates listed on the quarterly soft-cover supplements and today's date. There will always be a small gap between the last printed volume and today's date. Cases which might have appeared during this time frame can be searched for electronically (i.e., on Lexis Advance Quicklaw) if necessary.

2. Law Report Indexes 

Many provincial and topical law report series contain their own tables of cases considered.  A list of decisions judicially considering a case is provided under each case name. The table will indicate the manner in which the case was considered with each citation. For example, the tables use such phrases as "referred to in", "considered in", "applied in," or "followed in" to indicate the consideration the case received.

If you are researching a particular aspect of criminal law, for example, you may find it faster and more efficient to use the table in Carswell's Criminal Reports rather than a more general tool such as the Canadian Case Citations.