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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.

Ontario Statutes

Statutes that received Royal Assent during the year are officially published by chapter number in an annual volume of statutes. Each annual volume is divided into:

Part I - Public Acts
Part II- Private Acts

The latter are published only in the annual volumes and are not consolidated in the Revised Statutes of Ontario. Each annual volume also contains a Table of Public Statutes, a Table of Proclamations, a Table of Private Acts, and a Table of Regulations.

Revised Statutes of Ontario (RSO)

Periodically, the Public Acts are consolidated into the Revised Statutes of Ontario. A special Statutes Revision Act is passed prior to each revision. The Statutes Revision Act, 1989, SO 1989, c 81, for example, appointed commissioners to consolidate and revise public general statutes. The commissioners may omit any enactment that is not of general application or is obsolete, alter the numbering and arrangement of any act, alter language and punctuation to obtain a uniform mode of expression, or make such amendments as are necessary to bring out more clearly what is deemed to be the intention of the legislature or to reconcile seemingly inconsistent enactments or to correct clerical, grammatical or typographical errors.

The commissioners print the acts and their amendments in the form in which they are then in force and omit any acts or parts of acts that have been repealed or have ceased to be in force. Because acts are included at the discretion of the commissioners, 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.

The RSOs are generally brought into force by proclamation. Once proclaimed, the revision becomes the definitive version of the statutes, subject to any changes made during the subsequent sessions of the Legislative Assembly.

Revised Statutes normally change section numbering. The previous citation for each section of an act is given at the end of the section so that the legislative history of each section can be traced. For example, the Interpretation Act, RSO 1980, c 219 has at the end of s 1 the following citation: RSO 1970, c 225, s 1. This is the citation from which s 1 of the current version of the Interpretation Act is derived. In this way, it is possible to trace the legislative history of a section back in time.

Revised Statutes of Ontario 1990 (RSO 1990)

The Revised Statutes of Ontario 1990 were proclaimed into force on December 31, 1991 and are composed of:

Main Volumes

The main volumes consolidate all public statutes in force enacted prior to January 1, 1991.

Appendices Volumes

The Appendices volume contains the History and Disposal of Acts tables (to trace the history of acts from RSO 1980 to 1990) and Constitutional Documents of relevance to Ontario.

Index Volume

The Index volume contains separate English and French indexes.

Statutes of Ontario 1991

The RSO 1990 were proclaimed in force December 31, 1991. Since the 1991 statutes were drafted and passed before the RSO 1990 was published, the original text of this legislation does not reflect changes in numbering or wording which may have resulted from the new compilation. As a result, the Statutes of Ontario 1991 were issued in 2 volumes:

Volume 1

contains the statutes in the form in which they were enacted by the Legislature.

Volume 2

contains the same statutes but revised to correspond to the RSO 1990. The chapter numbers remain the same, but section numbers differ between the 2 volumes. Also, the statutes in Volume 1 are in English only, while those in Volume 2 are in both English and French.

Electronic Copies

Copies of current statutes are available from the Government of Ontario's e-laws site. These copies are now considered official (see O Reg 413/08).