CLB to Leave Lexis – Tectonic Shift in Canadian Legal Online

I reproduce the text of a major announcement this morning

To: All Canada Law Book Customers
From: Stuart Morrison
Date: September 26, 2007
Re: LexisNexis QuickLaw / Canada Law Book

Canada Law Book’s databases, including the Dominion Law Reports, Canadian Criminal Cases and Labour Arbitration Cases will no longer be available on LexisNexis QuickLaw after the current publishing licence agreement expires on March 31, 2008. To continue to have access to these and the other Canada Law Book databases from April 1, 2008 please register online at

Canada Law Book has a long publishing history within the Canadian legal profession and traces its history back to the Upper Canada Law Journal of 1855. Its law reports, including Canadian Criminal Cases (1898) and Dominion Law Reports (1912), reflect the editorial integrity that the profession has relied on. Our early partnership with QuickLaw in the 1970’s allowed for the development of a uniquely Canadian system that met the legal research needs of both lawyers and law librarians. The purchase of QuickLaw by LexisNexis, and the expiry of our existing contract, has forced us to re-evaluate our long-term strategy given our commitment to uphold the editorial integrity of Canadian jurisprudence.

As we look to the future needs of the legal profession in Canada, we feel that Canada Law Book is again uniquely positioned to provide access to both recent decisions of the court with value added classification, head note and summary plus archival records. Our commitment to continuing the high levels of editorial accuracy and excellence is the bench mark for legal publishers and precludes Canada Law Book from allowing its data to be linked to content where we cannot guarantee the accuracy.

The titles noted below, which are currently available through LexisNexis QuickLaw, will ONLY* be available through Canada Law Book effective April 1, 2008:

Law Reports
Canadian Criminal Cases
Canadian Patent Reporter
Dominion Law Reports
Labour Arbitration Cases


Canadian Law List

Alberta Civil and Criminal Cases
All Canada Weekly Summaries
B.C. Civil Cases
B.C. Criminal Cases
B.C. Labour Arbitrations
B.C. Labour Relations Board Decisions
Canadian Labour Arbitration Summaries
Charter of Rights Decisions
Saskatchewan Civil and Criminal Cases
Supreme Court of Canada Decisions
Weekly Criminal Bulletin

*The Canadian Patent Reporter is also available on IPSource

To continue to have access to these and the other Canada Law Book databases from April 1, 2008 please register online.

Canada Law Book



  1. This is one of those decisions whose significance will be some time in becoming clear.

    However, a few heretical observations as the announcement sinks in.

    At a stroke, the historic corpus of Canadian law has been severed from Lexis. Unless it is replaced in short order, Lexis’ Canadian coverage looks increasingly like a shadow of Thomson-West-Ecarswell.

    This is the first fragmentation of the Lawford legacy-QL’s historic content. Canada Law Book will have a challenge to drive legal researchers to yet another website.

    Moreover, since one has to have a registered account for billing, many casual researchers will simply fold when pointed in the direction of CLB.

    The value of the headnote will be fully put to the test – does the controlled vocabulary of a headnote really help searchers locate relevant cases. Jon Bing, in a classic paper, doubted it – now Canadian lawyers will put that to the test.

    For years, I’ve been saying that publishers can only justify the premiums they charge over CANLII by the value they add to content. Expect to see some creative use of the CLB digitized archive to deliver new types of legal information.

    The future evolution of the Dominion Law Reports will be fascinating.

  2. Our commitment to continuing the high levels of editorial accuracy and excellence is the bench mark for legal publishers and precludes Canada Law Book from allowing its data to be linked to content where we cannot guarantee the accuracy. [my emphasis]

    Ouch. Them is fighting words.

  3. I assume this applies as much to (as normally accessed by U.S. customers) as well as to LexisNexis Quicklaw. Has that been confirmed? Ditto for the UK, Australia, etc.?

  4. John – I can’t imagine technically how it could be removed just for Canadian customers, but leave the rest of the world intact. And from a business perspective, it wouldn’t make sense to do a partial withdrawal.

  5. For Slaw readers outside Canada, let me confirm that the withdrawal of the Canada Law Book law report series from Lexis affects all users. So if you were accustomed to searching the Dominion Law Reports through Lexis, the choice will be a CLB subscription or to wait until Lexis figures out how to build back the necessary content.

  6. Hmm comments seem downright sparse from the interested parties, whom usually waste no time in jumping into this forum when a matter of their interest comes up……

  7. From Lexis – a response:

    Q &A: Case law on LexisNexis Quicklaw
    Will I be able to access criminal cases published in the Canadian Criminal Cases on LexisNexis Quicklaw?
    Yes. All criminal cases received from the courts are added to our caselaw databases daily. In the event that we learn that a case has not been sent to us, we take immediate action to obtain a copy and include it in our databases. Most of the cases reported in the CCCs are already available in our databases. Copies of any historic cases that continue to be used in the courts will be obtained and added to our databases.
    Quicklaw databases provide access to more criminal cases than any other source, whether in print or online.
    Will I be able to access the patent, trademark, copyright and industrial design decisions included in the Canadian Patent Reporter on LexisNexis Quicklaw?
    Yes. Unlike the Canadian Patent Reporter, which includes a limited selection of Canadian cases on intellectual property, Quicklaw has comprehensive databases on every aspect of intellectual property law, organized and accessible by the particular tribunal and court that decided the case, as well as by topic and by case name.
    Will I be able to access the labour arbitration decisions included in Labour Arbitration Cases on LexisNexis Quicklaw?
    Yes. Labour arbitration decisions on LexisNexis are organized by jurisdiction and are comprehensive collections of arbitration cases. As with all of our databases, missing cases are identified and quickly added to the appropriate database.
    In the coming months, we will be adding the history and treatment of labour arbitration cases to Quickcite, which will further enhance the use of our labour arbitration databases.
    Will I be able to access cases included in the Dominion Law Reports on LexisNexis Quicklaw?
    Yes. All of our databases are designed to be comprehensive collections of all cases of that continue to be used in the courts. Copies of any historic cases that continue to be used in the courts will be obtained and added to our databases.
    Will I be able to find a case reported in Canadian Criminal Cases, Canadian Labour Arbitration Cases, and Dominion Law Reports using the print law report citation?
    Yes. Citations for all cases reported in every Canadian print law report series are identified and added to Quickcite daily as parallel citations to the Quicklaw database citations. On the General Search template, you can use the common tasks drop down box to find the decision by case name or by citation. The citation will lead you to the full text of the case you require.
    For ease of reference, all parallel citations in Quickcite for accessing each case will be added to the full text of every judgment on an ongoing basis.

    And a letter from senior management:

    Letter from LexisNexis Canada
    Re: Canada Law Book Content Licence Contract Expiry — March 31, 2008
    I want to assure all LexisNexis® Quicklaw™ customers that, on April 1, 2008, you will continue to receive the same quality of service that you have come to expect from us. Content licensed from Canada Law Book will be replaced in our online service.
    Our goal is to give customers the best possible online research experience. We do this by bringing together the most comprehensive, the most relevant, and the most current range of materials available so customers can conduct thorough and precise legal research. We recognize the value in customers being able to access everything they need in one place.
    We have recently focused on adding new products to the Quicklaw platform; keeping our extensive range of case law, legislative, and other primary sources up to date; and broadening and deepening our collections of rich secondary content. We are working on a number of new products and core content sources that will launch over the coming months and years, and we continue to improve platform functionality to deliver better research results.
    In our 38 years in the online legal research business, we have continuously upheld our commitment to providing the most comprehensive service in Canada.
    If you have any questions, please contact your LexisNexis Canada representative.
    Michael Pilmer
    President and CEO
    LexisNexis Canada Inc.


    Recently, Canada Law Book sent out an “Important Notice to Customers” to inform customers that Canada Law Book’s databases, including the Dominion Law Reports, Canadian Criminal Cases, Labour Arbitration Cases and Canadian Patent Reporter, will no longer be available on LexisNexis Quicklaw after March 31, 2008. We wish to clarify that it was never our intention to impugn the editorial integrity of LexisNexis or the accuracy of the content provided by it. If any such meaning was inferred, we unequivocally retract it and hereby apologize to LexisNexis.

    Stuart J. Morrison


  9. See comment #2, above. It was like shooting fish in a barrel with an UZI. Too bad I can’t pick lottery tickets in some analogous way.

    Simon: Did L/N complain publicly, to your knowledge? Did it get to duelling lawyers’ letters or somebody at L/N picket up a phone and said “Hi, Stuart, about that … we know you didn’t … we hope you’ll clarify it, please … ”

    Do you think somebody’s feet at CLB are being held to the fire, head first?

    Coincidentally, no doubt, the first of my ReCaptcha words is booby.

  10. By the way, about #8, being technical (for a change) and pretending to be a grade school English teacher – shouldn’t Mr. Morrison have written “implied” rather than “inferred”? As it stands, the literal meaning of the apology isn’t an apology by CLB for anything it has done. It’s apologizing for the conduct of othe people.

    That’s rather nice of CLB; however, I think that L/N probably prefes that CLB apologize for it’s own misconduct.

    On the other hand, speaking of implication and inference, L/N owes our own John Swan an apology. L/N, as some will know, is the publisher of John’s masterful Canadian Contract Law. It’s also the publisher of another recently released book on contract law in Canada. Take a look at the flyer that you’ve received for that book, if you’re in the practice. Ask youself how at least one of those lines got by anybody paying attention.

  11. ReCaptcha tells me that “epiphany” is “connected”. Well, in this case the not-quite epiphany in my #10, just since were being careful, is that I’m too lazy to proof-read. That’s “apologize for its own misconduct”.

  12. Well said point, which brings me to my question: Why did they really split? If you take the apology that isnt an apology into account, what broke these two up?

  13. And, David, speaking of your #10, shouldn’t that be “masterly” rather than “masterful”?

  14. Simon

    Yes, you’re right.

    My Canadian Oxford defines “masterful” to mean “characterized by the skill that constitutes a master”. However it then adds
    “normally used of a person, whereas masterly is used of achievements”. So, you’re right. I should have written “masterfully written” CCL by our masterly John Swan.