Halsbury’s Laws Completed

Congratulations to Lexis-Nexis Canada and a squadron of Canadian legal authors for achieving what many of us doubted that we would ever see, a contemporary Canadian legal encyclopaedia. Halsbury’s Laws of Canada has reached its seventy-seventh volume as a statement of common-law Canadian law in English.

Lexis took over the ground floor bar at Toronto’s Trump Hotel and flew in from the sunny California campus of Pepperdine University, the grand old man of Canadian tort law, Allen Martin Linden. And of course a Butterworths author and latterly a Lexis-Nexis author.


While AML delivered the one-liners, Halsburys is testament to the vision of Slaw’s own Gary Rodrigues who launched the effort seven years ago thus: “With Halsbury’s Laws of Canada, customers benefit from a powerful resource that appropriately and inclusively deals with each provincial jurisdiction and federal law,” said Gary Rodrigues, [who was then] vice president, Publishing, at LexisNexis Canada. “It truly is a national publication designed to provide Canadian legal professionals with comprehensive and relevant legal information.”

Here is an early presentation to the CBA’s Research Section in Alberta on the strengths of the publication.

Press releases are usually replete with puffery, but this one issued today is in fact true:

“Written by the best legal minds in Canada, Halsbury’s Laws of Canada is the definitive statement of ‘black-letter’ law and the only comprehensive resource covering all Canadian jurisdictions,” said Anand Ablack, Vice President, Product Management and Publishing – Research Solutions, at LexisNexis Canada. “Halsbury’s titles have been cited with approval by every level of court in this country, including the Supreme Court of Canada. Halsbury’s is an invaluable resource for the legal profession in Canada.”



  1. “Written by the best legal minds in Canada, Halsbury’s Laws of Canada is the definitive statement of ‘black-letter’ law and the only comprehensive resource covering all Canadian jurisdictions,” said Anand Ablack, Vice President, Product Management and Publishing – Research Solutions, at LexisNexis Canada. “

    We should recognize that this is advertising but, still, I suspect that Westlaw Canada (if it cared) might point to its own Canadian Encyclopedic Digest and disagree with some of the contents of the advertisement.

    Others might disagree with other parts (g).

    Anyone care to comment on what any of the law societies would so if a law firm claimed to be staffed by the “best legal minds in Canada”.

  2. Well as someone whose work has featured from time to time in both publications, I can say categorically that the CED is a wan comparison, and that it has not had the sort of cachet in the courts. If you run both through Canlii, the CED gets two hits. Halsbury’s attracts 76 hits.

    As a researcher I know which source I trust more.

  3. So do I, Simon. I could also have written, accurately, that “as a researcher I know which source I trust more.” Do we get to wave researcher “wands” here? I would have added “it depends on the subject.” I might also have added that as someone whose work has NOT (oops ) been featured (to my knowledge) in either source, I’ll use both as needed.

    For what it is worth, 76 hits is an inadequate sample, even without information as to why one source was chosen rather than the other.

    Regards from down under, where it isn’t -16C.


  4. Yes it does depend on the subject. The dirty little secret is that some of the volumes are boiled down précis of exiting books published by the same gang. Hat tip to Swan on Contracts, Walker on Conflicts and Dodek on the Legal Profession.

    I wouldn’t trust it on tax, insurance or the civil law of Québec.

    The sample size of 76 isn’t scientific but it did include 16 appellate court references and the SCC.

    But I had forgotten just how frequently courts change the name signified by the acronym CED. My number was dead wrong: CED hits 79 in Canlii – including 3 references from the SCC.

    So it’s a tie, unless you factor in the CED’s longevity.

    It isn’t minus 16 right now, but we’re still jealous.

  5. Which appellate court and which judges? … Only one ONCA reference. Should that matter?

    It suppose it should to LN for selling purposes if it it’s a harbinger of the distribution of Halsbury’s acceptance.

    The Halsbury SCC reference? A second “also”reference to material written by the same person(s) who wrote the first text reference; supporting your “boiled down” point.

    I wouldn’t have thought there’s much of a secret that LN went to its existing stable of authors for material; nor do I complain about that. There’s no point re-inventing the wheel.

    Besides, Halsbury, just like the CED, should be a starting point to more detailed research – say the text book(s) from which the article was taken – unless one already knows the answer and is looking for confirmation or a current list of cases. I realize this is a utopian view.

    It’s hovered in the 35-40C range in the Perth area the past week or so under bright, cloudless, skies until today. Maybe it’s a dry heat, but I get the point when my friends’ part-dingo isn’t interested going for a walk. On the other hand, the Perth environs aren’t burning or flooding, unlike areas on the east coast of Oz. Anyway, time for me to head to bed so I can be wide awake for “brekky”.


  6. Simon, Thank you for your post on the new Halsburys Laws of Canada and for acknowledging my role in its development and launch. It is very much appreciated.

    I have also enjoyed the verbal jousting between you and David Cheifitz over the contents of the product announcement. In my experience, hyperbole is the norm, both in marketing material issued by legal publishers, and on festive occasions wherever lawyers congregate. Though my career, I recall may occasions where the lawyers have gathered and touted the accomplishments of one another in language worthy of a Nobel Prize winner. Suffice it to say, the publication of a seventy seven volume legal encyclopedia is worthy of such acknowledgement and acclaim.

    Simon has also drawn attention to the fact that many authors of major treatises contributed to Halsburys in a big way and thereby provided instant credibility to the publication on launch. This was done by using their scholarly writings as a base to create an authoritative black letter statement of the law that is the essence of a Halsburys encyclopedia.

    Unlike a treatise, which usually includes content that is intended to be used to advance an argument of a point of view in a court of law, Halsburys is intended to give the user an authoritative statement of the law as it is at the time of writing and to provide a reliable basis for a practitioner to give advice and carry out legal research.

    In the digital world, where the legal profession is being swamped by the literally millions of cases and the endless enactment and revision of statutes and regulations, Halsburys provides an essential framework and starting point for legal research of every kind. It is in that context that it will prove its worth and by which it will be judged.

  7. Michael Giuliano

    Kudos to Halsbury’s for completing this long project. The use of expert material and writing to create the new encyclopedia articles was probably a very wise decision. The tradition of legal encyclopedias continues.