Skip to main content

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.

Finding Statutes & Bill Information (Print Sources)

1. Check The Table of Public Statutes and Responsible Ministers For a Citation (Official Method)

The Table of Public Statutes for federal legislation is a cumulative, alphabetical listing of all federal statutes in force and provides a citation to the main statute plus citations to any amendments in the annual volumes of the Statutes of Canada. The Table is found in the orange pages of the Statutes of Canada volumes. The federal Table of Public Statutes and Responsible Ministers is also published three times a year, separately from the bound statutes. Be sure to check the most current edition. For Ontario statutes the Table was found at the end of every volume of the Statutes of Ontario until 2002 and moved to e-Laws after that date. For both federal and provincial statutes it is important to always use the most recent table.

2. Locate the Statute

  • The Statutes of Canada volumes are beige books. The Statutes of Ontario are red books. Both are arranged by year and volume number and shelved on the main floor of the library.
  • Locate the Act you need. Legislation is listed alphabetically by title in the table
  • Citation information should point you to the correct volume of revised statutes containing the act you are seeking.
  • Both the Revised Statutes of Canada 1985 and the Revised Statutes of Ontario 1990 are dark blue volumes. The range of chapter numbers is indicated on the spine of each volume.
  • Both the Revised Statutes of Canada and the Revised Statutes of Ontario can be found with the rest of the statutes from their respective jurisdictions on the main floor of the library.
  • When using the Revised Statutes of Canada be sure to consult the supplements shelved at the end of the set.

3. Update Amending Statutes Using The Respective Statute Citator

  • Both the Canada Statute Citator and the Ontario Statute Citator are very useful reference tools which can be used in lieu of the Table of Public Statutes to locate a statute citation. The citators also contain fairly recent lists of amendments and are current up to the last three months.
  • Both the Canada Statute Citator and the Ontario Statute Citator are multi-volume sets that include statutes alphabetically by title. They are shelved with the statutes.
  • It is important to note that the citators are considered to be merely research aids and therefore are not official sources. However, despite their status, the citators remain an extremely well organized and useful resource for finding and updating legislation.
  • In addition, both the Canada Statute Citator and the Ontario Statute Citator offer the very efficient feature of actually listing the text of amendments cited. These are printed in bold face type.

4. Final Update: Check The Status of Current Bills for Recent Amendments

After updating a statute by searching for any amendments, in order to be absolutely current, you must consult the status of  bills for recent amendments which may have been passed. There are several different methods of accessing the status of current bills. Print sources offer two main alternatives: statute citators or legislative indexes. These sources contain current information, yet they can be awkward and time consuming to use. The internet offers efficient electronic alternatives through various government and legal websites. See next page for further information.

Statute Citators:

  • All current bills are listed alphabetically. For the Canada Statute Citator, refer to the green pages found at the front of the citator. For the Ontario Statute Citator, refer to the pink pages at the front.
  • Search for your statute title under the Status of Bills section. In these pages you will find appropriate bill numbers and the current status of any relevant bills.
  • Using the citator is the simplest method of accessing status of bills information in print.

Canada Legislative Index:

  • The Canada Legislative Index is shelved with the legislative materials. Search alphabetically under the "Titles Index" for your statute title. Each title will provide a list of amending bills.
  • Using the bill numbers, locate detailed summary sheets within the "House of Commons" section or the "Public Acts" section respectively. You must take this step to be sure of the bill's status. It is possible that the bill is pending, has passed into force, or has "died"as a result of a session having ended.