Have You Read 2012’s Top Cases?

Last year around this time I posted top 10 lists of the most consulted cases for 2011 – one for all cases consulted in 2011 and the other for consultations of cases decided in 2011. It was well received so I have been looking forward to continuing the tradition. And as with last year, I leave it to the readers to determine the significance of any case appearing on either list.

So with that, I’m pleased to present for 2012 the top 10 most consulted cases on CanLII.

  1. Langevin, 2012 QCCS 613
  2. Dunsmuir v. New Brunswick, 2008 SCC 9 (up from 3rd place in 2011)
  3. Meads v. Meads, 2012 ABQB 571
  4. Jones v. Tsige, 2012 ONCA 32
  5. R. v. Oakes, 1986 CanLII 46 (SCC), [1986] 1 SCR 103 (up from 7th place in 2011)
  6. Bedford v. Canada, 2010 ONSC 4264 (down from 4th place in 2011)
  7. R. v. Grant, 2009 SCC 32 (down from 5th place in 2011)
  8. Reference re Secession of Quebec, 1998 CanLII 793 (SCC), [1998] 2 SCR 217 (up from 10th place in 2011)
  9. Baker v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration), 1999 CanLII 699 (SCC), [1999] 2 SCR 817 (holding in same place as 2011)
  10. Combined Air Mechanical Services Inc. v. Flesch, 2011 ONCA 764

As of the morning of 12-12-12, Langevin attracted 19,149 consultations, eclipsing the 2011 peak of 18,641 established last year by Bruni v. Bruni, 2010 ONSC 6568. At number 10, Combined Air Mechanical drew 7,189 consultations, well above the 5,105 views of last year’s number 10.

Among cases decided in 2012, the top 10 looks like this:

  1. Langevin, 2012 QCCS 613
  2. Meads v. Meads, 2012 ABQB 571
  3. Jones v. Tsige, 2012 ONCA 32
  4. Romspen Investment Corp. v. 6176666 Canada Ltée., 2012 ONSC 1727
  5. R. v. Cole, 2012 SCC 53
  6. Canada (Attorney General) v. Bedford, 2012 ONCA 186
  7. R. v. Ipeelee, 2012 SCC 13
  8. R. v. Smickle, 2012 ONSC 602
  9. Club Resorts Ltd. v. Van Breda, 2012 SCC 17
  10. R. v. Pelech, 2012 ABCA 134

The number 2 spot following Langevin was claimed by Meads which, as of the morning of 12-12-12, counted 13,378 consultations. Alberta courts also claim the number 10 spot with Pelech attracting 4,187 views. As with the overall top 10, viewership of the 2012 “in-year” leaders exceeded that experienced in 2011 as this year’s number 10 drew roughly 1,300 more views than 2011’s “in-year” 10th place finisher.

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 2012 will approach eight million.
  • The database holds over one million judgments across 201 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 200,000, 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.
  • Standings measured as of December 12th. If significant shifts occur over the final few weeks of the year, I will provide an update in the comments.


  1. Borrowing a little from the theory behind the heisenberg uncertainty principle, the identification of Langevin as the most consulted case might have renewed interest in the case as it has now recorded its 20,000th view. Meads has also seen a fresh uptick in attention following publication of the lists.