Comparison of Database Coverage?

Does anyone know if there exists a comparison tool regarding the coverage of the major online subscription databases (such as Quicklaw and Westlaw)? I am envisioning a simple tool that would indicate their coverage of various courts over time, so one could know at a glance which database to consult for finding a particular case. I know that each database documents its own scope, but I was wondering if anyone out there has undertaken the project of compiling that information into a quick comparison chart. I realize that it would be a lot of work to keep up-to-date, but I thought perhaps an enterprising librarian might have already taken up the challenge. If so, please advise. Or if you have any other advice on this topic, please share. Thanks!


  1. For reasons that will be obvious (and oh so self serving!), I am also very interested in knowing the answer to this question. For anyone inclined to undertake the exercise, I offer the attached link to get you started:

    With about 1 million documents across 171 case law, 14 statute and 14 regulation databases, and with information current to yesterday (or today, if you check tomorrow…you get the point) I think CanLII would stack up pretty well.


    Colin Lachance
    President and CEO, Canadian Legal Information Institute

  2. For as long as I have been teaching and talking about the major online databases, I’ve stressed that they are each highly competitive and dynamic. So that any such chart of comparison, will be outdated, shortly after publication.

    They just leapfrog over each other.

    In terms of the depth of sources that matter, final and intermediate courts of appeal, the major difference is likely date, and comprehensiveness.

    But comprehensiveness may be fools gold, if the buried case that is inaccessible is justly forgotten.

  3. When one of the existing systems gets a major update, someone will sometimes do such a comparison to help his/her constituents understand the differences between systems. Usually this is done on a private basis as a one-off and, as Simon suggests, does not find its way to being kept up to date.

    Sorry for being short on facts–it has been a few years since I have seen one of these. If there was a publicly available list from the various services such as what Colin has shared, I bet someone could create an automated “mash up” to keep it current.

  4. The Making Good Choices page on compares the leading Canadian tools in various respects – both content and features. It is not always right up to date and doesn’t have the kind of detail you are envisioning, but is a start.