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The Stream - Courthouse Libraries BC Blog

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Stay current with the latest news and views from Courthouse Libraries BC.  

  • Questions About the New Supreme Court Rules

    by User Not Found | Jul 08, 2010

    We’re getting a steady stream of questions at the library about the new court rules and forms for BC Supreme Court cases.

    Where can I find the new court rules and forms for Supreme Court cases?

    There are two new sets of rules that came into effect on July 1, 2010: 

    Also of note is that the Supreme Court has issued a new collection of Practice Directions and Administrative Notices to coincide with the coming in to effect of the new court rules:

    Can I fill in the new court forms online?

    Yes. There are fillable PDF versions of the court forms under the new rules. The forms can be completed on the computer and saved, printed, or filed electronically. (Note that you will need the free Adobe Reader to use these fillable forms.)

    You can access the fillable court forms at:

    My Supreme Court case started before July 1, 2010. Will the new rules affect me?

    Yes. The new Supreme Court rules apply to cases started before July 1, 2010. From July 1 on, you must follow the new court rules.

    There is an exception. Under the new civil rules:

    Rule 24-1(14) If a step in a proceeding is taken before July 1, 2010, the former Supreme Court Rules apply to any right or obligation arising out of or relating to that step if and to the extent that that right or obligation is to have effect before September 1, 2010.

    For a case that is not a family law case, the guidebook Transition to New Rules in the Supreme Court, developed by Justice Education Society, outlines how the new court rules will affect a case started before July 1, 2010. 

    For a family law case, Questions about the new Supreme Court Family Rules coming into effect July 1, 2010, a fact sheet from Legal Services Society, provides some questions and answers about the new rules in family law cases.

    I’m trying to figure out what new rule (or form) matches this old rule number (or form number)

    For family law cases:

    For all other cases:

    I'm trying to prepare a case under the new Supreme Court rules

    For civil cases, an excellent starting is the Supreme Court Self-Help Guidebook series, developed by the Justice Education Society and available through Clicklaw. The series includes over 20 guidebooks written in plain language for those who are representing themselves in BC Supreme Court. The guidebooks have been updated for the new court rules and include court forms with annotations explaining key parts of each form.

    For family law cases, good starting points include:

    In our courthouse libraries, we have copies of Carswell's Guide to Civil Litigation, updated for the new rules and forms. The Guide features detailed annotations for each form, explaining what needs to be completed and done with the form. 

    Our libraries also have copies of the Civil Rules Transition Guide, from the Continuing Legal Education Society of BC. As well, several of our CLE practice manuals have now received updated contents incorporating the new rules and forms, including the BC Family Practice Manual, the BC Probate and Estate Administration Practice Manual, and Discovery Practice in BC.

  • The New & Improved Clicklaw: Six Highlights

    by User Not Found | Apr 16, 2010

    Our community outreach team has been working on improving Clicklaw, the website we manage that features legal information and education aimed at the public. Drawing on usability testing and feedback, we’ve been working on making the Clicklaw site easier to use & more helpful.

    Here are six things we’ve done:

    • Additional resources: We added over 200 new resources to the Solve Problems section to fill gaps in the legal information available.
    • Clicklaw subtopics:  We added subtopics to resources to improve the experience of browsing on Clicklaw.   
    • Common questions: There are now over 100 “common questions” on the site, featuring resources that are good starting points for information on common legal problems.
    • Resources in languages other than English: We made it easier to find resources on Clicklaw that are in languages other than English.
    • What’s new: blog highlighting new resources is now featured on the Clicklaw homepage.
    • Facebook & Twitter: Clicklaw has arrived on Facebook and Twitter!

    One way in which we hope Clicklaw offers value for the legal community is as a site to refer clients (where appropriate) for basic legal information on their problem. All the resources on Clicklaw have been either contributed directly by organizations that produce legal information and education, or vetted by Courthouse Libraries BC staff. 

  • The English Reports: A Comparison of HeinOnline and CommonLII

    by User Not Found | Feb 03, 2010
    "I've got this weird citation and don't know where to look: 'The Prince George, 3 Hagg. 376'"

    One of my favorite moments on the reference desk is when someone asks for help finding a case from the English Reports. An amazing feat of legal publishing, the English Reports reproduce over 100,000 early English cases from the years 1220 to 1873, many of which continue to be cited in Canadian cases.

     Excerpt from the English Reports

    We're lucky in the Vancouver courthouse library, as we have three options for clients: the print English Reports, HeinOnline, and CommonLII (the Commonwealth Legal Information Institute). In the last two years, both HeinOnline and CommonLII have added the full reprint of the English Reports to their mix of databases. Now that those sources have had some time to establish themselves (and for us to use them), I thought a comparison might be helpful.

    Source Coverage Strengths Weaknesses
    HeinOnline full reprint of English reports (all 176 volumes)
    • more search features (e.g., highlighted keywords)
    • PDFs of reports are crisper, more readable on screen
    • more printing options
    CommonLII full reprint of English reports (all 176 volumes)
    • free
    • fast
    • surprisingly versatile in its search options 
    • PDFs of reports tend to be slightly washed out, harder to read on screen

    To test out the two sources, I ran three types of searches on each:

    • Where I have the name of the case only: "I'm looking for Saunders v. Vautier"
    • Where I have the citation only: "I have a citation I don't recognize: 8 Co. Rep. 132a"
    • Where I have a keyword or two but not much else: "I know there’s an old English case that had a great quote about the defence of fair comment in a defamation case, something about the comments being in a fair spirit"


    Both HeinOnline and CommonLII feature all 176 volumes of the English Reports. The full text of all 124,000 plus cases can be searched on both sources. No difference there.

    Search Experience

    Both HeinOnline and CommonLII handled the case name search brilliantly. Each has a fairly easy way to specifically search by case name (HeinOnline's is a little better, but both sources can do this). The Saunders case was the first result for each.

    For the citation search, both sources struggled. I thought HeinOnline would have an edge, as they have a dropdown option that allows a citation search. In fact, they have two dropdown options: one for an English Reports citation, and another for a "nominative citation" (the original report citation, such as our example "8 Co. Rep. 132a"). But neither citation option turned up our result in the first 25 results. Nor did a keyword search. A phrase search turned up 0 results. CommonLII didn't fare much better. Finally, I thought the "a" in the page number might be messing things up. Sure enough, pulling out the "a" from the citation, CommonLII returned the case, Turnor's Case, as the first result. The same strategy on HeinOnline returned the case as the 12th result. So far, still more or less a draw.

    It was with the keyword search where I thought HeinOnline might really dominate. I decided on a proximity search:

    • fair /10 spirit and "fair comment"

    This approach worked well on both sources. In fact, I was totally impressed with CommonLII, where the quote I was looking for was in the first result, Hedley v. Barlow (1865), 176 ER 541. A nice win for proximity searching. On HeinOnline, the case was sixth in the result list. One feature on HeinOnline that really shines with this kind of search is that in their results list, you can view the matching text pages, showing the search terms highlighted.

    Search terms highlighted on HeinOnline 


    Speaking of features, HeinOnline does have an edge there. HeinOnline delivers really solid relevancy results. Their PDFs of the original reports are crisp, very readable on screen, and print out great.

    That said, CommonLII totally held its own in this quick comparison. Searches are fast, it supports both simple searching and more complex types of searches, and you can slice and dice search results in many ways. CommonLII is a great option for finding cases from the English Reports, particularly given that it's free and accessible anywhere.


Drew Jackson is the Director of Client Services at Courthouse Libraries BC.

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