Online Ontario Reports Now Freely Available?

Unless it’s just a glitch in the DRM system, the online version of the Ontario Reports looks to be freely available. Historically, the ORs are a benefit earned by membership in the Law Society of Upper Canada. If so, it’s a pleasant development. (Although, the digital ORs have been the subject of criticism aimed at their failure to take advantage of the functionality that the web offers: they are essentially a photographic image of the print service.)

[hat tip: @davidpwhelan]


  1. Open access would make sense especially if the publisher’s aim is to increase ad-based revenue. Hopefully it’s not just a glitch.

  2. Because the online Ontario Reports are a rather unwieldy photographic image of the print service (and don’t take advantage of the functionality that the web offers), they seem to offer few benefits over the paper version.

    As the actual reports are now on CANLII, perhaps we need to reassess the role of the Ontario Reports in more fundamental ways. The legal content of the Ontario Reports might add more than selecting, indexing and summarizing Ontario court reports. If the legal content were expanded, and the Ontario Reports remained free to the reader, the Ontario Reports could be an even better vehicle for keeping lawyers informed and for law society communications, and an even more profitable vehicle for advertisements. We could still keep bound volumes of the full Ontario Reports, perhaps for the sake of tradition and safety.

  3. The Ontario Reports should be available as an open-access, free-law resource. As for functionality, the new ICLR Online service from the Incorporated Council of Law Reporting (publishers of The Law Reports and The Weekly Law Reports, provides an excellent model of what a non-profit law publisher can do. It’s not free, but it’s an excellent and affordable online reporting service.

    The value of the selection, editing, headnoting and digesting provided by the Ontario Reports (ORs) should not be underestimated. Reported case law continues to provide an important service to the profession and to legal research. The problem with law reports generally, and the ORs specifically, is their format, not the concept of reported case law. Nevertheless, and as I believe you suggest, this doesn’t mean to say that the ORs can’t provide a greater service to the Ontario bar and be more profitable to the Law Society by doing more than reporting cases and providing a vehicle for advertising. The ORs in their current conception, both print and especially digital, are a missed opportunity.

    Members of the Ontario Bar currently receive the Ontario Reports as one of the benefits of membership; unfortunately, my library has to pay $6000 annually for the privilege, a cost that is slowly becoming untenable. Open access to the ORs in a digital format is desirable — but ideally with a level of functionality and archival integrity that would allow me and others safely to go without print.

  4. Does anyone have any fresh news about this? I was just poking around on the site. I was told it was restricted, and that I needed to log on. I’m a member of the LSUC, so I tried the email address they have on file for me, plus a couple of others I use. No luck. I logged in to the LSUC portal too, so see if there was a link from there, but I had no luck finding anything there either. So maybe this thing is still under development? Does anybody know?

  5. Gary P Rodrigues

    I wonder at this point if it matters.

    Access to cases is what a law report series was all about. Any case reported in the Ontario Reports has already been reported in so many places before it is published in the ontario Reports. Who really needs it.

    Is it not time to move on and forget that there ever was such a thing as a law reports.

  6. Would we miss the curation provided by editors who select cases for reporting? Would the legal blogosphere provide enough of an alternative?

    I suspect that you’re right, Gary, and the concept of “law reporter” is not long for this world. However, there are characteristics of reportage which deserve migration to whatever replaces reports.