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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.

Legal Encyclopedias

Legal Encyclopedias

If you need a very general overview of a subject in Canadian law, particularly if no text has been published on the topic, a legal encyclopedia is a great place to start. In Canada, there are two legal encyclopedias: the Canadian Encyclopedic Digest (C.E.D.) and Halsbury's Laws of Canada.

A. The Canadian Encyclopedic Digest

The Law Library subscribes to the Ontario edition of the C.E.D. in print, as well as the electronic version in WestlawNext Canada (campus-wide) or Westlaw Canada Edge (individual law student accounts) that combines the Ontario and Western provinces' editions. This encyclopedia provides a brief overview of most major areas of law, as well as some more specialized topics. The C.E.D. approaches topics in less depth than a monograph on the same subject, but it will identify the issues and refer to the leading cases and statutes. The C.E.D. is organized under broad subject headings, called titles, such as Arbitration, Bailment, or Copyright. These titles are further broken down into subheadings, allowing you to research broad or specific points of law. One note of caution: some parts of the C.E.D. are not as up-to-date as others, so always check the currency of the information in your particular section. 

The Research Guide and Key and Index volumes are useful to find the appropriate title. For example, the "Table of Statutes" contained within the Research Guide and Key indicates where a particular section of an Ontario or federal statute is discussed in the encyclopedia. The "Index Key" provides a subject index and extensive network of cross-references to all published titles. Each volume of the C.E.D. has its own table of contents, table of cases, and table of statutes. The main text of each title is printed on white pages. Update your topic by checking the relevant paragraph numbers from the main title in the Supplement (pages at the beginning of each title).

The advantage of electronic searching is that you can quickly do a search without having to ascertain the appropriate title or paragraph numbers, and you can combine search terms. You can also browse the C.E.D.'s table of contents electronically.

Watch this video on how to use the C.E.D. from Westlaw.

B. Halsbury's Laws of Canada

LexisNexis Canada publishes Halsbury's Laws of Canada. Each volume is hardbound, rather than in loose-leaf format, and is updated with supplements. Each volume covers one or more subject areas, and has a table of contents, table of cases, index, a short bibliography and a glossary of terms. Within the volume, major paragraphs give statements of law, while minor paragraphs give jurisdictional information. Like the C.E.D., Halsbury's also points out significant cases and statutes for each area of law. One particular strength of Halsbury's is for many that it often cites to the equivalent section(s) of legislation for each province and territory. Each volume is updated and replaced on a set schedule.

Halsbury's Laws of Canada is also available online in Lexis Advance Quicklaw Plus (campus-wide) and on Lexis Advance Quicklaw (individual law students' accounts).

Watch this video on how to use Halsbury's Laws of Canada from Quicklaw.