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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.

Federal Statutes

Statutes of Canada (SC)

Statutes are officially published in annual volumes. Each volume is divided into two parts:

Part I

Public General Acts: acts which apply to all of Canada

Part II

Local and Private Acts: a local act is restricted to a limited area; a private act is restricted to a limited number of individuals or bodies. These are not consolidated in the Revised Statutes of Canada.

Revised Statutes of Canada 1985 (RSC 1985)

Periodically, the Public General Acts are consolidated into the Revised Statutes of Canada. The most current consolidation is the Revised Statutes of Canada 1985. In practical terms, this consolidates all public statutes still in force as of December 12, 1988. To do this, the Statute Revision Commission took those statutes still in force from the last Revised Statutes (1970), those amendments from 1970-1984, and any new statutes from 1970-1984 and consolidated them into the RSC 1985. The new revision includes a table showing the history and disposal of the acts in the previous revision and the acts in the sessional volumes published in the years between the two revisions. The revision only repeals those acts specifically mentioned in the table and no new laws are added. Certain acts are not consolidated. Once proclaimed, the revision becomes the definitive version of the statutes, subject to any changes made during subsequent sessions of Parliament.

The Revised Statutes of Canada 1985 is composed of the following:

Main Volumes:

The main volumes consolidate all public statutes in force to December 31, 1984.

Supplemental Volumes:

Since the RSC 1985 was not proclaimed in force until December 12th, 1988, statutes in the 1985, 1986, 1987 annual volumes, and the 1988 Canada Gazette Part III, had to be reprinted to conform to the new RSC 1985 section numbering. These statutes are reprinted in the First Supplement (1985 Acts and 12 pre-1985 Acts that were not in force on December 31, 1984); the Second Supplement (1986 Acts); the Third Supplement (1987 Acts); and the Fourth Supplement (1988 Acts). A Fifth Supplement, comprising the Income Tax Act and the Income Tax Application Rules, was added later.

Appendices Volume:

The Appendices volume contains the History and Disposal of Acts tables (to trace the history of acts from RSC 1970 to 1984) and constitutional documents of relevance to Canada. The latter includes 47 documents including the Canada Act 1982, the Constitutional Acts 1867 to 1982,  as well as the acts bringing each province into Confederation.

Index Volumes:

At the time of consolidation, the Canadian Law Information Council produced a subject index to the RSC 1985. This was the original index and is now out of date, although the Law Library maintains copies of the 2d edition shelved with the RSC 1985.

Electronic Copies:

Copies of statutes are available from the Department of Justice's Laws site. These are now considered official copies (see the Legislation Revision and Consolidation Act, RSC 1985, c S-20, s 31).