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  • Asked & Answered: When did sessional statute volumes start including tables of legislative changes?

    by Megan Smiley | Jan 26, 2017
    Asked & Answered is a collection of answers to tricky legal research questions, written by Courthouse Libraries staff. Search Asked & Answered here.



    Tables of legislative changes have been included in the Acts of the Parliament of Canada in one form or another since 1899. However, the way the information was organized and represented changed over the years until 1918 when the first Table of Public Statutes as we currently know it was published.

    1899 – 1914

    The first table of statutory amendments was included in the 1899 sessional volume under the name Table of Changes. This table shows amendments made that year to all public acts and all acts from the Revised Statutes of Canada, 1886. Subsequent tables follow this convention up to and including the 1914 sessional volume.

    1914/1915 – 1917

    The 1914/1915, 1916 and 1917 sessional volumes show amendments in two separate tables. The Table of Acts shows amendments to acts contained in the Revised Statutes of Canada, 1906 and the Table of Public Statutes shows amendments to all other public acts made between 1907 and 1917.

    1918 – Present

    The 1918 sessional volume was the first time that amendments to all public acts from revision years and annual volumes were reflected in a single table under the name Table of Public Statutes. The table shows amendments to RSC 1906 and all other public acts made between 1907 and 1918. From that point on, the format and content of the table is consistent.

    Where is it within the text?

    The table of changes is always situated in between the Public General Acts and the Local & Private Acts. In the earlier volumes, this tends to be towards the middle, but from 1918 on, it tends to be closer to the back of the volume. In the mid-sixties they started using different paper to help differentiate the table allowing it to be found more easily within the text.


    Before tables were included, finding amendments involved looking at each volume’s index. From 1892 to 1898 amendments are listed in the index under “ACTS, amended or repealed”. Pre-1892 amendments can only be found by looking through the index of each sessional volume under the name of the act or by subject of the act.



    Tables of legislative changes have been published in the Statutes of the Province of BC since 1920. That first table in 1920 shows amendments to acts from the Revised Statutes of BC, 1911 and all public acts from the annual volumes for 1912 to 1920. From that year forward all sessional volumes include a Table of Public Statutes (or Table of Legislative Changes as it is now called).

    The table is located at the end of the volume after both the Public and the Private & Local Acts and has always been printed on differently colored paper making it easy to find at a glance.


    From 1893 to 1911, amendments from each year were listed in the index at the back of the sessional volume under the name of the act they amended. Pre-1893, there was no detailed index at the back of sessional volumes – only a title index at the beginning. Amending acts were noted there.


    Statutes of the Province of BC KP22 - https://opac.courthouselibrary.ca/Catalogues/CatView.aspx?id=8507&noAuthRedir=1

    Acts of the Parliament of Canada KP2.S7

  • Asked & Answered: What is a McKenzie Friend?

    by Megan Smiley | Jan 18, 2017
    Asked & Answered is a collection of answers to tricky legal research questions, written by Courthouse Libraries staff. Search Asked & Answered here.


    A McKenzie friend is a person who sits alongside someone appearing in court without a lawyer – a ‘self-represented litigant’. Their role is to provide practical and emotional support during the court process by helping to keep the self-represented litigant organized, calm and focused.  Anyone can act as a McKenzie Friend but generally it is a trusted family member or friend, and ultimately their presence in the courtroom is allowed only at a judge’s discretion. 

    What can a McKenzie friend do?

    If a judge does give permission, a McKenzie Friend can sit at the front of the courtroom and:

    • take notes;
    • assist in organizing documents and pass them along when needed;
    • pay attention to the courtroom discussion;
    • communicate with the self-represented litigant via notes or whispering (as infrequently as possible to avoid being perceived as disruptive by the judge).

    McKenzie Friends may do all or just some of the above, but above all it is important to decide on their roles and your expectations beforehand.

    How to ask permission for a McKenzie friend?

    The National Self-Represented Litigants Project’s publication The McKenzie Friend: Choosing and Presenting a Courtroom Companion provides a practical guide to choosing the right person and asking permission from a judge. This resource includes an example of a self represented litigant’s request to have a McKenzie Friend in the courtroom, an explanation of what judges must consider in allowing one, and a list of reasons why a judge may decide to refuse.

    The most important thing to keep in mind is that a McKenzie Friend is there as a support person, not to take the place of a lawyer. They are not able to give legal advice, or speak directly to the court except in very rare cases where a judge deems it appropriate. Even in cases where language comprehension is an issue, each circumstance is judged on a case-by-case basis. There are no predictable outcomes or set of criteria that determines whether they will be permitted or to what degree they may assist, and a self-represented litigant should be prepared to go it alone in case the judge denies the request.


    Bring a Friend to Court: A Guide (McKenzie friend and BC Supreme court chambers) -

    The McKenzie Friend: Choosing and Presenting a Courtroom Companion -

  • Asked and Answered: What is the BC Building Act?

    by Megan Smiley | Sep 23, 2016

    The Building Act, SBC 2015, c.2 is the first act to deal solely with construction and building in the province of BC. It was given royal assent on March 25, 2015 and will have effect throughout the province with the exception of the city of Vancouver, federal lands and on reserve.

    The act will come into force over a multi-year transition period. Some sections came into force in 2015, others in 2016, and still others yet to come. The transition period is meant to give local governments time to amend their bylaws to be in keeping with the provincial standards set out in the act, and to give building officials the time they need to meet the new qualifications requirements.

    The act will directly affect local governments or other local authorities able to enforce the BC Building Code, building officials that work for those authorities, and people working in the construction sector. Indirectly it will affect the rest of us who work and live in BC and therefore occupy the built environment. 

    Key areas of change

    Consistency – Local government bylaws will cease to have legal force in December of 2017 after the two year transition period has come to an end. After that point, the province will have sole authority in establishing technical requirements that govern building construction as well as repair, alteration and demolition.

    Competency – New qualification requirements for officials have been introduced in the interest of ensuring competence, professionalism and consistent interpretation of the BC Building Code. Requirements will take effect over the course of a 4 year transition period beginning in late 2016.

    Innovation – Innovative building design will be supported by providing a formal process for review and evaluation of proposals.

    Sections in force

    The fundamental sections of the act (SBC 2015, c. 2, ss. 1 - 4, 6, 14 - 18, 19 (1), (2), and (3)(a), 20, 21, 39 - 42, 45, 46, 48, 50 - 55, and 58 – 62) came into force on September 18, 2015.

    The consistency sections (ss. 5, 7, 9 and 43) came into force on December 15, 2015 and sections 31-34 came into force on June 10, 2016.

    Consult the What’s Effective Now section of the province’s BC Building Act webpage for a regularly updated chronological list of sections in force.

    You can also consult BC Laws for a current version of the act. Text in green denotes sections that have only recently come into force.

    Sections not in force

    Sections 8, 10-13, 22-30, 35-38, and 44 have not yet come into force. Primarily these are the competency related sections dealing with qualifications for building officials, administrative and monetary penalties for contraventions of the act, and applications to the appeal board. These sections will come into force by regulation over the course of the next 4 years.


    BC Building Act webpage - http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/construction-industry/building-codes-standards/building-act
    BC Laws - http://www.bclaws.ca/civix/content/complete/statreg/1944036832/15002_a/?xsl=/templates/browse.xsl
    Bill 3 - 2015: Building Act - https://www.leg.bc.ca/parliamentary-business/legislation-debates-proceedings/40th-parliament/4th-session/bills/third-reading/gov03-3
    Building Act, SBC 2015, c.2 - http://www.bclaws.ca/civix/document/id/complete/statreg/15002 

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