Osgoode has always prided itself on innovative approaches to law and teaching. As host to the Law Commission of Ontario (LCO), Osgoode has a commitment to law reform initiatives everywhere. Better to support these research ideals, the Osgoode Library now subscribes to the Australian Law Reform Commission Library on HeinOnline.
The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) is a federal agency that reviews Australia’s laws to ensure they provide improved access to justice for all Australians by making laws and related processes more equitable, modern, fair and efficient. The ALRC conducts inquiries—also known as references—into areas of law at the request of the Attorney General’s Department. Based on its research and consultations throughout an inquiry, the ALRC makes recommendations to government so that government can make informed decisions about law reform. ALRC recommendations do not automatically become law, however over 85 per cent of ALRC reports have been either substantially or partially implemented—making it one of the most effective and influential agents for legal reform in the common law world. The ALRC’s objective is to make recommendations for law reform that:
- Bring the law into line with current conditions and needs
- Remove defects in the law
- Simplify the law
- Adopt new or more effective methods of administering the law and dispensing justice
- Provide improved access to justice
The Australian Law Reform Commission database in HeinOnline consists of more than 650 titles and 130,000 pages of material related to Civil Procedure, Discrimination, Intellectual Property, National Security, Indigenous Rights, and more. The Commission’s Reports fall into different classifications that include Reports, Working Papers, Discussion Papers, Issue Papers, and Reform.
The ALRC Library on HeinOnline can be searched full-text – or you can browse by Subjects such as:
- Final project reports to the Attorney General in response to specific matters that the attorney general had instructed the Commission to investigate; each report includes the current legal status, areas for improvement, and recommendations for how to improve.
- Community Law Reform Consultative Documents
- Research Papers
- Working Papers
- Tentative proposals of the Commission; they encourage comments and criticism before the issuing of the final report.
- Discussion Papers
- Brief summaries of the preliminary findings of the Commission; they are also issued to promote comment and criticism of the Commission’s findings.
- Issue Papers
- Published in order to demonstrate the issues involved in specific areas as defined by the Attorney General.
- A bulletin of law reform news, views, and information. It is designed to inform readers in an informal way of developments relevant to the reform of the law in Australia
- New South Wales Law Reform Commission Reports
- Sentencing Research Papers
- And more
More great news from CanLII: Fans of the Best Guide Guide to Canadian Legal Research will be pleased to know that the site is now being hosted and updated by CanLII.
The Best Guide has been freely available on the Internet since 1998. The original author and publisher was Catherine Best. The site grew out of Catherine’s experience teaching legal research and writing, and her conviction that a process-based analytic approach was needed. She was also motivated to help researchers learn to effectively use electronic research tools.
Catherine Best retired In 2015 and has now generously donated the site to CanLII to use as its legal research guide going forward. Best says:
The world of legal research is dramatically different than it was in 1998. However, the site’s emphasis on research process and effective electronic research continues to fill a need. It will be fascinating to see what changes the next 15 years will bring.
The site has been renamed The Canadian Legal Research and Writing Guide, and it will stay at legalresearch.org. It will be maintained and expanded by a national editorial board of legal researchers.
The editorial board
- Melanie Bueckert is Legal Research Counsel with the Manitoba Court of Appeal in Winnipeg. She has written several legal textbooks, teaches Advanced Legal Research at the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Law, and is also a contributor to Slaw.ca.
- Maryvon Côté is Acting Head at the Nahum Gelber Law Library at McGill University in Montreal. He is active on the Canadian Association of Law Libraries executive and writes on legal research topics.
- Yasmin Khan is the Head Librarian at the City of Toronto Law Library. She has just finished a Master’s of Science, Information and Knowledge Strategy from Columbia University.
- Mandy Ostick is the Manager, Library Services at Bull Housser in Vancouver. She has had previous positions as the Law Librarian at Thompson Rivers University and Director of Library Operations at Courthouse Libraries BC.
- Jennifer Taylor is a Research Lawyer at Stewart McKelvey in Halifax. She is a regular contributor of case comments for Stewart McKelvey Publications, CanLII Connects, and the CBA’s National Magazine blog, and has published several articles in legal journals and newsletters. She also presents on topics related to legal research within the firm and in the local legal community.
Though the Guide currently focuses on federal and BC law, over the coming months the editorial board will be updating the site and expanding it, with an emphasis on adding more geographically diverse content. One of our own Osgoode students submitted the following unsolicited praise for the Guide:
You should receive the Nobel Prize for your contribution to legal education for your legal research website. It’s awesome in the true sense of the word. At first glance, I was hoping to purchase a hard copy, but as I spent more time on the site it became clear that this was next to impossible — now I fully understand what Marshall McLuhan meant when he said that the age of electronic media spells the end of book. How you put all that information together is beyond comprehension. It seems like a life’s work.
Many would agree. Ms Best’s work should be recognized and CanLII’s agreement to continue and host the Guide are laudable.
All of the available early debates and proceedings (Hansard) of the of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly for the period 1868-1993 are now online on the Legislature’s website. The production and posting of these materials was a project of the NS Legislative Library.
This gives Nova Scotians and everyone access to the historical debates of the House, such as the 1907 debate on Prohibition in Nova Scotia and the debates leading up to the opening of the Angus L Macdonald Bridge in Halifax.
Hansard did not transcribe debates from 1917-1919, and 1921-1950, so debates during those dates are not available.
The collection also includes all of the available Legislative Council debates, from 1858-1861 and 1875-1922. Historically (pre-Confederation), the Legislative Council acted as the Governor’s cabinet, with a combination of executive, legislative and judicial powers, and subsequently as the Upper House of the legislature. The Council was finally abolished in 1928.
These Hansards join a growing online collection of legislative materials for Nova Scotia, including:
The Legislative Library is now in the process of making the Journals of the House of Assembly from 1867-1900 available online.
LégisQuébec, the website that contains the official versions of Quebec laws and regulations and which used to require a subscription to access, is now available free on the web. Of course, the site is available in both French and English versions. Documents are available in HTML, PDF or EPUB formats.
LégisQuébec is produced and made available by the Éditeur officiel du Québec, Quebec’s government printer, and is a part of their commitment to making official legal information widely accessible to the public. The site offers a very useful and informative FAQ. Here’s a summary of the contents:
Other publications of the Quebec National Assembly can be found here.
The United Kingdom European Union Membership Referendum, also known as the EU referendum or Brexit referendum (because of the potential exit of Britain from the EU), is a plebiscite scheduled to take place in the United Kingdom and Gibraltar on June 23, 2016. Membership in the European Union has been a topic of debate in the United Kingdom since before the country joined the European Economic Community (EEC or “Common Market”), as it was known then, in 1973.
To help inform a broader cross-section of the public and provide them with authoritative analysis on questions that relate to the highly contentious possibility of a Brexit, Oxford University Press has now made freely available a large selection of materials from the Oxford Public International Law database relating to the Brexit debate. To keep track of recent commentary on and information about the legal consequences of a Brexit, they have also made available a new Brexit Debate Map.
Readers can also keep themselves informed by consulting theBBC’s All You Need to Know page on the Brexit referendum debate.
The Law Library is pleased to offer a research workshop to all students on April 27. While the session is geared primarily to Research Assistants, all JD and graduate students who want to improve their research skills are also welcome to attend.
The workshop will cover the following areas:
Legislation & case law
Journal indexes & articles
Foreign, comparative and international law sources
Zotero bibliographic management service
Date: Wednesday, April 27
Time: 10 AM to 12:30 PM
Location: Room 2003
Refreshments will be served.
To reserve a spot send an email message to firstname.lastname@example.org.
CanLII has recently announced some significant content enhancements to their offerings of federal Quebec materials – and an exciting development for freely available legal information.
In collaboration with the Quebec Centre d’accès à l’information juridique (CAIJ), the following substantial caselaw offerings have been added to the Quebec databases:
Further, we should all be particularly excited that CanLII has now added Quebec and Federal annual statutes:
Again, thanks to their supplier Lexum‘s programmatic wizardry, CanLII not only hosts the annual statutes as static documents but integrates them dynamically to the rest of their legislation collections.
Let’s hope this is just the beginning, and that we will soon be able to see even more annual statutes for all provinces and territories on CanLII in the future.
We have also been able to add the following caselaw to our Quebec databases:
This is an exciting development for freely available legal information, and we are pleased to have the opportunity to work with CAIJ to leverage lawyers’ investments in both our organizations.
You can read the press releases from CanLII, CAIJ and Lexum.