Have You Read 2013’s Top Cases?

In early December of 2011 and 2012, I posted top 10 lists of the most consulted cases. Two lists were published each year – one for all cases consulted and the other for consultations of cases decided in within that year. With the tradition now firmly established, I’m very pleased to present for 2013 the top 10 most consulted cases on CanLII.

As in prior years, I leave it to the readers to determine the significance of any case appearing on either list.

Top 10 most consulted cases of 2013

  1. R. v. Duncan, 2013 ONCJ 160
  2. Meads v. Meads, 2012 ABQB 571 (up from 3rd place in 2012)
  3. Dunsmuir v. New Brunswick, 2008 SCC 9 (down from 2nd place in 2012)
  4. Magder v. Ford, 2013 ONSC 263
  5. Baker v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration), 1999 CanLII 699 (SCC), [1999] 2 SCR 817 (up from 9th place as 2012)
  6. R. v. Grant, 2009 SCC 32 (up from 6th place in 2012)
  7. Jones v. Tsige, 2012 ONCA 32 (down from 4th place in 2012)
  8. R v McConnell, 2012 ABQB 369
  9. Bedford v. Canada, 2010 ONSC 4264 (down from 6th place in 2011)
  10. Doe v. A & W Canada, 2013 HRTO 1259

As of 9:10am on 11-12-13, Duncan attracted an astonishing 47,598 consultations. While continuing the multi-year trend of the top case offering more smiles than value in the form of binding precedent, Duncan nonetheless distinguished itself by eclipsing not only the 19,149 consultations in 2012 of Langevin, 2012 QCCS 613 and the 18,641 peak established in 2011 by Bruni v. Bruni, 2010 ONSC 6568, but it beat their combined total by roughly 30%.

At number 10, Bedford drew 7,152 consultations, just shy of the 7,189 views of last year’s number 10.

Among cases decided in 2013, the top 10 looks like this:

  1. R. v. Duncan, 2013 ONCJ 160
  2. Magder v. Ford, 2013 ONSC 263
  3. Doe v. A & W Canada, 2013 HRTO 1259
  4. Quebec (Attorney General) v. A, 2013 SCC 5
  5. Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, Local 30 v. Irving Pulp & Paper, Ltd., 2013 SCC 34
  6. Canadian National Railway Co. v. McKercher LLP, 2013 SCC 39
  7. Saskatchewan (Human Rights Commission) v. Whatcott, 2013 SCC 11
  8. R. v. Fearon, 2013 ONCA 106
  9. R. v. Ryan, 2013 SCC 3
  10. Penner v. Niagara (Regional Police Services Board), 2013 SCC 19

The number 2 spot following Duncan was claimed by Magder v. Ford which, as of the 9:10am 11-12-13, counted 14,423 consultations. In the number 10 spot, Penner attracted 4,808 views – exceeding 2012’s “in-year” 10th place finisher by over 600 views.

Background and miscellanea:

  • CanLII’s operations have been continuously funded by Canada’s provincial and territorial law societies (and by extension, Canada’s lawyers and notaries) since 2000 to allow legal professionals and the public to access primary legal information at no direct cost. Weekday traffic to the site consistently exceeds 25,000 daily visits and total visits for 2013 will approach nine million.
  • The database holds over 1.2 million judgments across 233 case collections, as well as tens of thousands of legislative documents from all Canadian provincial, territorial and federal jurisdictions.
  • Our 2012 survey of Canadian lawyers and Quebec notaries disclosed that nearly 9 in 10 have used CanLII in the past 12 months and that 56% begin their case law research on CanLII.
  • Monthly unique visitors are routinely over 230,000, a number that indicates extensive site use by individuals outside the legal profession. Consequently, the cases cracking the top ten lists might be considered as representing a mix of public interest and legal significance.
  • A “view” or “consultation” of a document is measured as the interaction of an individual with the case URL. Mere appearance of a case in a list of search results will not constitute a view, but opening it to inspect it will. Similarly, where a user subscribes to RSS feeds and a case appears in the list, the case view does not take place until it is opened.
  • Results above aggregate views for a given decision across formats (PDF or HTML) and across French and English.
  • Certain decisions were excluded from consideration where consultation counts appeared to be artificially inflated by automated links or other means that suggested page views were generated by automated process and not initiated at the request of an individual user.
  • Standings measured as of December 11th. If significant shifts occur over the final few weeks of the year, I will provide an update in the comments.


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