Established by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, the non-profit Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII) provides Canadian legal records available free of charge on the Internet. CanLII maintains an online database compiling legislation with decisions issued by Canadian courts, boards and tribunals. CanLII has individual datasets for federal and provincial courts, boards and tribunals as well as legislation. The default search on the CanLII homepage searches across its entire database, but the advanced search allows you to narrow your search to federal records, records from a particular province, or any combination of the individual datasets. Some of these datasets go back as far as 1948 and are frequently updated to provide recent coverage. For a complete list of the datasets and their scopes, click here.
After defining the scope of your query, you may search by key word, statute name, case name, citation number, docket number and/or decision date. Searches can be executed in English or French. The full text of these documents may be viewed in HTML and PDF formats. Additionally, you can search for all decisions citing the decision of interest. Note that only the final decisions are included in the database.
The database was launched as a pilot project in August 2000, and CanLII was created in July 2001 to maintain the resource long-term. A parallel, albeit unsanctioned, effort was launched by PublicResource.org in the United States, which downloaded millions of pages of documents from PACER in September 2008 to make them available free of charge on the Internet. You can read about it in our previous blog entries:
- Twenty Million Page Download of Court Documents Leads to Debate About PACER
- 700 GB of PACER Documents Now Available Online
- Free Access to Federal Court Records Aided by RECAP