I’ve set up a new site to collect commentary on judicial opinions: commentary.slaw.ca
At the moment — and for the near future, certainly — it contains only commentary on Supreme Court of Canada cases, starting with 2011. (It goes only a small way into 2012 in order to give commentary time to appear and me time to collect it; generally it’ll run somewhere between four and six months behind the present date.) The commentary is that which is available free online, essentially from Canadian law blogs and law firm web publications. And by “commentary” I mean material that offers some analysis, even minimal, of the decision in question and not simply a precis of the facts and the court’s reasoning.
The chart below shows you the current list of cases for which commentary has been sought; cases commented on are hyperlinked to the relevant page listing that commentary:
It’s highly likely I’ve missed some useful material, so please do let me know when that happens and I’ll gladly add the missing links to the database.
I find it remarkable how little commentary there is on the decisions of our highest court. Granted, many of the decisions, perhaps most, are of a less than earth-shaking nature. Yet, even decisions of small or narrow significance should generate and become part of a better conversation within the profession as a whole than the one I find now. A decision represents an opportunity, if nothing else, to consider a cluster of issues, operating as a sort of URI for that cluster; yet few if any in the Canadian legal profession take up the opportunity publicly at least. What I do find is a plethora — and I mean that in its pejorative sense — of simple summaries of decisions. These by and large add little or nothing to the free headnote, for example, that is published along with the decision from the Supreme Court.
Sadly, academic commentary is not freely available online. It is a disappointment to me that the relatively small number of Canadian law journals, particularly those emanating from law schools, still cling to the pay-to-view approach, ensuring, in effect, that there is no prospect of their gaining any audience beyond the profession. Worse, Canadian journals are distributed among the various commercial databases, further fractioning the already tiny resource.
I hope that you find this collection useful at times or at least interesting. Please do let me know how you see it being improved.