Halsburys Laws of Canada

The “Great Encyclopedias” of Legal Research – Part II

This is the second of a series of posts that were prepared as the sequel to a request by Professor Daniel Poulin to explain the character and purpose of “Halsburys” and the “C.E.D.” to his seminar on legal information at the University of Montreal. The views expressed are the personal opinion of the author.


There are three encyclopedic black letter statements of the law that follow the Halsburys model in Canada. Two of them are well established in the market – the Canadian Encyclopedia Digest (Western Edition), and the Canadian Encyclopedic Digest (Ontario Edition), while the third, Halsburys Laws of Canada is a comparative newcomer on the block.

In launching a new legal encyclopedia in current market conditions, with formats in a state of flux as the market moves from print to digital, and with prices for online databases falling, decades after the C.E.D. had established itself in the market as “the Canadian Halsburys”, Butterworths LexisNexis faced both a great opportunity and a major challenge.

The opportunity – The Third Edition of the C.E.D. was originally published in the 1970’s. The field seemed wide open for the launch of a “Halsburys Laws” in Canada that would meet the needs of legal researchers for current legal information and at the same time strengthen the competitive position of Butterworths LexisNexis in the Canadian legal market.

The challenge – Not long after the launch of Halsburys, the competitive environment changed when Carswell announced that it would publish a Fourth Edition of the C.E.D. According to the announcement, the C.E.D. was “getting a major restoration” to make sure that the user “will always find the most current and relevant information”. Halsburys Laws of Canada was now being launched at the same time as a new edition of the C.E.D., in a market that was not fully convinced of the need for another legal encyclopedia, by a company that had tried unsuccessfully to publish such a work twice before.


The Halsburys announcement triggered a series of questions from potential users. Will the encyclopedia be completed? Why publish it in print? Why not just put it online and include it as part of the basic LexisNexis Quicklaw service. Will it be national or regional in scope? Finally, will Halsburys Laws of Canada set a new standard in legal publishing in Canada?

Will the encyclopedia be completed? The answer to the first question is now known. The work will be completed. Thus far, more than eighty titles have been published in 58 volumes. Lexis Nexis has confirmed that the remaining Titles are in various stages of production. By the end of 2011, there there will be approximately 70 bound volumes encompassing over 100 titles in print.

Why publish in print? Halsburys Laws of Canada is available in print and online as part of the LexisNexis Quicklaw service. At the time of the launch, the question was rightly asked whether there was a need for the print version. In the first place, there is still a significant demand for print. For many, it is easier to find information in an encyclopedia published in print than in an online database. Secondly, seeing the print version of a legal encyclopedia enables the user to understand the scale and nature of the information that is being searched online. One of the limitations of online search is that the user is bereft of any sense of what it is that is being searched. The user sees data on a screen but is unable to see the data in context. Finally, from a business perspective, marketing “just another database” added to LexisNexis Quicklaw would leave the user with no sense of the scope and value of the enhancement to the Lexis Nexis Quicklaw service.

Will it be national or regional in scope? The answer to that question is thatHalsburys Laws of Canada is “a truly national publication” that fully integrates relevant federal and provincial law from every part of Canada into every Title. Halsburys includes Quebec and is not simply the “law of the commonlaw provinces of Canada”.

Will Halsburys Laws of Canada set a new standard in legal publishing in Canada? Halsburys is freshly written, current, authoritative and will soon be complete. Whether Halsburys is better than competing publications is a question that only a Title by Title analysis can determine. What is clear, however, is that Halsburys is now a contender to become the Canadian legal encyclopedia of choice.


In addition to the characteristic features of the Halsburys model referred to in the first post in this series, Halsburys Laws of Canada includes some unique features of benefit to users:

National coverage – As noted above, a concerted effort has been made to ensure that every province is covered in every statement of law in each Title. This has been possible because of the relative ease of searching online databases of legislation and case law, something that was formerly very difficult to do in print. It is worth noting that public policy makers from the time of the Canadian Law Information Council, and possibly even earlier, have advocated the creation of a truly national encyclopedia of the laws of Canada. Even more notable is the fact that it was a foreign owned multinational publishing company that finally delivered the goods.

Treatment of multiple jurisdictions – In a federal state like Canada, it is necessary to clearly address the issue of multiple jurisdictions in the text. Some Titles are federal, some are provincial, and some contain elements of both. One province may deal with a point of law in a different manner than another, or be silent on the point of law. Clarity is required to eliminate any possible confusion in the mind of the user. Rules were developed to address these issues in a consistent manner and examples were published in the Overview that appears in the preliminary pages of every Volume and may be found in Appendix 1 of this post.

The Volumes are labelled alphabetically – The Titles are published in alphabetical order. They are not numbered. Each Volume is labelled with the names of the Titles that appear in the Volume. The Volumes are intended to be shelved alphabetically but are being published out of alphabetical order as the content is ready. To number the Volumes would have created the impression that the work was incomplete despite the fact that each Volume can stand alone. The complete list of Titles is set out in Appendix 2 of this post.

Alpha-numeric numbering scheme – The text of a Title is arranged in major and minor paragraphs. Each major paragraph of a Title is assigned an alpha numeric number consisting of a three or four character acronym for the subject Title, together with an arabic numeral, highlighted by inverted triangles or “nabla” (▼HAP-826▼). Minor paragraphs are grouped with major paragraphs and elaborate on the principle of law set out in the major paragraph. Both major and minor paragraphs include descriptive headings.

Standard features of legal publications – Tables of Cases, Tables of Statutes, Tables of Contents and key word Indexes are included in every Title and cumulated as one would expect in any legal publication. In an online environment, only the Table of Contents would continue to offer something of value to the users as an outline or framework for a legal subject and as a source of key words to locate relevant principles of law.

Glossary of defined terms – Each Title includes a comprehensive collection of defined terms derived from legislation relevant to the particular Title. When in doubt as to the meaning of a term, the first recourse is to the appendix of each Title.

Bibliography – A Halsburys Title is intended to be the source of an immediate answer to a legal question, but it is also intended to serve as the first step in more extensive research if required. To that end, a bibliography of secondary materials from all legal publishers is included with each Title to facilitate further research.

Currency – Currency is to be maintained by a systematic program of annual updates that focus on changes in the principles of law in the body of the work and not on case summaries for their own sake. Each Volume and each supplement is said to be current to four months prior to the publication date, the date that the manuscript was transferred from the legal editorial team to the production team. A reference to the date is provided with each Title.


The authoritative nature of any legal publication originates in the creation of the manuscript by the author, and is enhanced by the team of editors that clarify and verify both the text and the references in a manuscript prior to publication. The publisher initiates, and supervises the entire process to ensure that all the required standards are met before the publishing company’s imprimatur or brand is applied to the final product. Most importantly, the publisher secures the corporate level support required to fund the initiative.

The Author TeamHalsburys Laws of Canada has lived up to its advance billing and is providing a fresh treatment of all of the legal subjects that one can expect to find in an encyclopedia written by a roster of authors and editors that includes so many notable scholars and academics, authors of legal treatises and monographs, practicing members of the Bar and professional legal researchers and writers.

Among the more recognizable authors of Halsburys Laws of Canada are Governor General David Johnson, Law Deans Lorne Sossin, Bruce Feldthusen, and Philip Bryden, and Justices Allen Linden and Roger Hughes, Master Linda Abrams, and Tribunal Chair Donald Buckingham.

Practitioners who are authors of treatises or monographs include Tamra Alexander, Tracy Bailey, Barbara Billingsley, Gary Botting, Donald Bourgeois, Bill Bulhozer, Maurice Coombs, Peter Downard, Rui Fernandes, Alan Gold, Duncan Glaholt, Sunny Handa, D’Arcy Hiltz, Vern Krishna, Esther Lenkinski, Kevin McGuiness, James Knight, Michael Power, Guy Regimbald, Nole Ries, Susan Seller, Lorne Waldman, and Jeffrey Wilson. Academics who are authors of treatises or monographs include Geoffrey England, Diana Ginn, Joanne Harrington, Richard Janda, Al Lucas, Bruce MacDougall, Dwight Newman, Joseph Roach, Hamish Stewart, Valerie Steeves, Angela Swan, Michael Thackray, and Janet Walker.

Legal practitioners include Tyler Botten, Johnathan Brunet, Margaret Buist, Chip O’Connor, Soma Ray Ellis, Ayana Ferdinand, Jennifer Freund, Elene Hoffstein, Janela Jovellano, Chip O’Connor, Vaughan MacLellan, and Tim Tremblay. Professional legal researchers and writers include Jacob Adamski, Jay Brecher, Derek Hill, Gavin Hole, Ron Maddock, Catherine Morin, and Sheila Nemet Brown.

The Publishing Team – Like all of the great encyclopedias of legal research, Halsburys Laws of Canada is a collaborative effort that requires the efforts of hundreds of individuals, including the authors listed above, but also scores of highly trained editorial production staff whose contribution is often overlooked.

David Keeshan, the Editor-in-Chief, is a natural leader, with personal integrity and an unwavering commitment to Halsburys. An author in his own right, with a detailed knowledge of Canadian legal literature, David was able to understand the nature of the project at hand and to create a major work in a very tight time frame with limited resources. At his right hand was Shaun Johnson, the head of editorial production and the embodiment of the ideal of quiet competence. The editorial production standards set by her and her team of editors are of the highest level. The book design is by Peter Sibbald Brown, an award winning designer, who has produced many of the classic cover designs that characterize Canadian legal publications today.

Throughout the development and launch phase of the Halsburys, the project benefited from the unwavering support of former Lexis Nexis CEO Mike Pilmer, who recognized the critical importance of strong secondary content for the future of LexisNexis Butterworths, and the support of his successor, Pat Collins, who together with Alan Dingle, Anand Ablack, and Jay Brecher, are seeing the project through to completion.


Without question, the publication of Halsburys Laws of Canada is a major contribution to Canadian legal literature. Each individual Title warrants inclusion in the Index to Canadian Legal Literature as a separate entry. The inclusion of each Title would provide greater depth to the Index by providing credible secondary sources of the law on every legal subject, something missing in its current form.

The publication of Halsburys Laws of Canada also gives a major boost to Butterworths LexisNexis in Canada. Butterworths was traditionally a second tier publisher in the Canadian legal market. The acquisition of Quicklaw and its merger with Lexis Nexis, combined with the publication of Halsburys Laws of Canada and Juris Classeur Quebec, have given the company a national foot print, making it truly competitive with other commercial legal publishers in the Canadian market, and ensuring clear superiority over the growing number of free services. The company now has a strong foundation to compete effectively in Canada, limited only by it’s own ability to successfully navigate through the current transformations in the market for legal information.

Next post in series: The Canadian Encyclopedic Digests.

N.B. Gary P. Rodrigues was Vice President Publishing at Lexis Nexis Butterworths during the period that Halsburys Laws of Canada and Juris Classeur Quebec were developed and launched. He was Managing Editor and then Executive Editor at Carswell during the period that the Third Edition of the Canadian Encyclopedic Digest (Ontario and Western Editions) were published.

Extract from Volume Overview – Dealing with Multiple Jurisdictions

In order to make Halsbury’s Laws of Canada a truly national publication, each title integrates relevant federal and provincial law into the commentary,
and deals with all Canadian jurisdictions.

Some subjects are almost exclusively federal, others exclusively provincial,and some will fall under both jurisdictions. However, Halsbury’s Laws of Canada strives to deal with every jurisdictions in a balanced manner. If there is a legislative provision dealing with a particular issue in every province, then each province will be mentioned, either in the body of the paragraph or in a footnoted reference. If a point is exclusive to one or more jurisdictions, but not to all, that fact will be clearly highlighted.

The following are some examples of how general situations with respect to multiple jurisdictions are dealt with in the commentary:

1. Where a general statement of law applies to every jurisdiction and will be based on common caselaw principles, such as a Supreme Court of Canada decision or a consensus of appellate cases in various provinces, or on a common statutory provision, such as a similar provincial rule of civil procedure, or common employment standards legislation:

▼HAP-826▼ Standard of care. A lawyer is required to bring reasonable care, skill and knowledge to the performance of the professional service undertaken.1. The requisite standard of care has been referred to variously as that of the reasonably competent solicitor, the ordinary competent solicitor, and the ordinary prudent solicitor.2.

1. See Smith v. Jones, [1988] S.C.J. No. 95, [1988] 2 S.C.R. 25 (S.C.C.).
2. Centra v. Rafuse, [1986] S.C.J. No. 32 at para. 43, [1986] 2 S.C.R. 147

2. Where a general statement of law based on caselaw principles or a statutory provision will apply to one or more jurisdictions, but there is a lacuna with respect to it in other jurisdictions:

▼HAP-826▼ Standard of care. In Ontario, Alberta and Nova Scotia, a lawyer is required to bring reasonable care, skill and knowledge to the performance of the professional
service undertaken. The requisite standard of care has been referred to variously as that of the reasonably competent solicitor, the ordinary competent solicitor, and the ordinary
prudent solicitor.

1. See (ON) Solicitor’s Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. S.15, s. 12; (AB) R.S.A. 2000,
c. 45, s. 10; (NS) R.S.N.S. 1989, c. 38, s. 16.
2. Central Trust v. Rafuse, [1986] S.C.J. No. 32 at para. 43, [1986] 2 S.C.R.
147 (S.C.C.).

3. Where a general statement of law based on caselaw or legislative principles will apply to some jurisdictions, but will be contradicted in other jurisdictions by caselaw or legislation:

▼HAP-825▼ Law Society Rules of Conduct. Various provincial law societies within Canada provide, in written rules of professional conduct, for the duties of skill and care owed by solicitors to their clients during the course of a retainer or engagement and following its conclusion.1.

New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island and Northwest Territories. The Law Societies of New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island and the Northwest Territories have adopted the CBA Code as their own Code of Professional Conduct. New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island have adopted additional provisions.2.

Standard of care. A lawyer is required to bring reasonable care, skill and knowledge to the performance of the professional service undertaken. 3. The requisite standard of care has been referred to variously as that of the reasonably competent solicitor, the ordinary competent solicitor, and the ordinary prudent solicitor.

Requisite standard in Alberta. Unlike other jurisdictions, the Law Society of Alberta’s Rules of Professional Conduct4 do not obligate a lawyer to use reasonable care in his or her dealings with clients.

4. Where there is a significant variation between jurisdictions (usually because of unique statutory requirements), each jurisdiction (or similar groups of jurisdictions, if the law is essentially the same) will be given a separate subheading:

(3) Qualified Privilege
(a) Generally
(b) Common Law
(c) Statutory Defences
(i) Alberta
(ii) British Columbia
(iii) Manitoba
(iv) New Brunswick
(vi) Newfoundland and Labrador

A discussion by jurisdiction will generally be presented in alphabetical order, and the following designated abbreviations are used in the footnotes:

Canada CAN
Alberta AB
British Columbia BC
Manitoba MB
New Brunswick NB
Newfoundland and Labrador NL
Nova Scotia NS
Ontario ON
Prince Edward Island PE
Québec QC
Saskatchewan SK
Northwest Territories NT
Nunavut NU
Yukon YT



List of titles, publication dates, and authors of the volumes already in print

Access to Information and Privacy (Dec 06) by Michael Power
Administrative Law (Dec 08) by Guy Regimbald
Agriculture (Dec-09) by Donald Buckingham
Alternative Dispute Resolution (Dec-09) by Duncan Glaholt
Athletics (May 09) by Jay Brecher
Auctions (Dec10) by Sheila Nemet-Brown
Aviation and Space (May09) by Tim Tremblay
Bailment (Dec 10) by Tyler Botten
Bills of Exchange (Dec 10) by Maurice Coombs
Business Corporations (Nov 08) by Kevin McGuiness
Cemeteries and Interment (Sep 08) by Sheila Nemet-Brown
Charities, Associations and Not-For-Profit Organizations (Sep-08) by Donald Bourgeois
Civil Procedure (1908)by Master Linda Abrams, Kevin McGuiness, Jay Brecher
Communications 2010 Reissue (Jun 10), by Sunny Handa, Charles Morgan, David Johnson, and Richard Janda
Compensation for Crime Victims (Jun 10) by Sheila Nemet-Brown
Competition and Foreign Investmen (Jun 10) by Tamra Alexander
Conflict of Laws (Dec 06) by Janet Walker
Constitutional Law: Charter of Rights (Jun 10) by Dwight Newman
Construction (Apr 08) by Duncan Glaholt
Contracts (Dec 08) by Angela Swan and Jakub Adamksi
Criminal Offences and Defences (Aug 07) by Alan Gold
Criminal Procedure (Oct 07) by Alan Gold
Debtor and Creditor (Dec 10) by Catherine Morin
Defamation (Aug 09) Peter Downard
Discrimination and Human Rights (Apr 08) by Soma Ray-Ellis
Education (Oct 10) by Jeffrey Wilson
Elections (Oct 10) by Sheila Nemet-Brown
Employment (Apr 07) by Geoffrey England
Environment (May 07) by Al Lucas
Evidence (Oct 10) by Hamish Stewart
Family (Dec 10) by Esther Lenkinski
Firearms, Weapons and Explosives (Dec-09) by Jonathan Brunet
Fires (Dec 09) by Erin Mackenzie
Food (Dec 09) by Donald Buckingham
Gifts (Dec 09) by Catherine Morin
Guarantee and Indemnity (Dec-10) by Kevin McGuiness
Holidays (Sep 08) by Catherine Morin
Hospitality (Sep 08) by Catherine Morin
Hunting and Fishing (Sep 08) by Jay Brecher
Immigration and Citizenship (Dec 06) by Lorne Waldman
Income Tax (Corporate) (Jun 08) by Vern Krishna
Income Tax (General) (Jun 08) by Vern Krishna
Income Tax (International) (Dec 10) by Vern Krishna
Infants and Children (Dec 09) by Jeffrey Wilson
Inquests, Coroners and Medical Examiners (Nov 09) by Sheila Nemet-Brown
Insurance (Dec 10) by Barbara Billingsley
Interim Preservation of Property Rights (Nov 09) by Linda Abrams, Kevin McGuiness and Jay Brecher
Judges and Courts (Dec 09) by Lorne Sossin, Philip Bryden and Jay Brecher
Legal Profession (Dec 07) by Jakub Adamski
Legislatures (Dec 10) by Sheila Nemet-Brown
Media and Postal Communications (Aug 07) by Jay Brecher
Medicine and Health (Aug 07) by Ayanna Ferdinand
Misrepresentation and Fraud (Dec 10) by Janela Jovellano
Missing Persons and Absentees (Dec 10) by Catherine Morin
Negligence (Dec 07) by Allen Linden and Bruce Feldthusen
Oil and Gas (Oct 09) by Michael Thackray
Partnerships (Oct 09) by Maurice Coombs
Patents, Trade Secrets and Industrial Designs (Aug 07) by Roger Hughes
Penitentiaries, Jails and Prisoners (Dec 09) by Chip O’Connor
Personal Property and Secured Transactions (Dec 08) by Bruce MacDougall
Planning and Zoning (Oct 08) by Bill Buholzer
Police, Security and Emergencies (Dec 09) by Jennifer Freund
Public Health (Aug 10) by Tracy Bailey and Nola Ries
Public International Law (Aug 10) by Joanne Harrington
Public Utilities (Dec 09) by Sheila Nemet-Brown
Religious Institutions (Sep 09) by Diana Ginn
Roads, Highways and Bridges (Sep 09) by Catherine Morin
Sale of Goods (Dec 10) by Valerie Steeves
Securities (Dec 08) by Vaughn MacLellan
Social Assistance (Dec 10) by Jay Brecher
Taxation (Goods and Services) (Dec 10) by Ron Maddock
Torts (Dec 07) by Allen Linden and Bruce Feldthusen
Trade-marks, Passing Off and Unfair Competition (Oct 07) by Roger Hughes
Vital Statistics (Dec 10) by Derek Hill
Wildlife, Livestock and Pets (Dec 10) by Gavin Hole
Wills and Estates (Apr 07) by Jim Mackenzie
Workplace Health and Safety (Dec 10) by Norman Keith and Goldie Bassi
Youth Justice (Dec 10) by Jeffrey Wilson

List of titles and authors of volumes in preparation

Agency by Maurice Coombs
Betting and Gaming by Ilkim Hincer
Banking and Finance TBA
Bankruptcy and Insolvency by Yoine Goldstein et al
Constitutional Law – Division of Powers by Martin Mason and Guy Regimbald
Consumer Protection by Danielle Bush
Cooperatives and Condominiums by Marko Djurdjevac
Copyright by Hon. Roger Hughes and Susan J. Peacock
Crown and Public Authorities by David Keeshan
Customs and Excise TBA
Damages by David Blaikie
Drugs and Controlled Substances by Jonathan Brunet and David Keeshan
Expropriation by Gavin Hole
Extradition and Mutual Legal Assistance by Gary Botting
Labour by James Knight
Landlord and Tenant TBA
Legislation by Ruth Sullivan
Limitation of Actions by Graeme Mew
Liquor Control by David Price
Legal Authorities (Municipal) TBA
Mental Health by D’Arcy Hiltz and Anita Szigeti
Military and Defence TBA
Mines and Minerals TBA
Mortgages by Joseph Roach
Motor Vehicles TBA
Native Law by Margaret Buist
Occupations and Trades by Ronald Maddock
Pensions by Susan Seller
Real Property by Jeffrey Lem
Receivers by Patrick Shea
Remedies by Jeff Berryman
Restitution and Unjust Enrichment by Mitchell McInnes
Transportation (Carriage of Goods-Maritime Law – Railways) by Rui Fernandes
Taxation (General) TBA
Technology Law TBA

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