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Legal research and writing

About this page

This page explains case law digests in detail.

About case law digests

Case law digest services are secondary sources that that help researchers find relevant case law.

Digests are organized by subject classification. These broad subject classifications reflect legal subject areas such as Aboriginal law, contracts and evidence. These are further broken down into hierarchical classifications that typically reflect the points of law in each subject area.

This multilevel classification system allows a researcher to locate relevant case law by particular legal issue.

A digest entry includes a brief summary and citations to where the case itself has been reported. Electronic digests include those citations as links.

Examples of case law digests

Some Canadian digests 

Digests from other jurisdictions

  • The Digest: Annotated British, Commonwealth and European Cases (U.K.)
  • West's Digest (U.S.)
  • Australian Digest

Canadian Abridgment

The Canadian Abridgment comprises over 750,000 Canadian case law digests. Digests are are filed under 50 subject titles and hierarchically classified.

Reported Canadian cases in the Abridgment date from 1803. The Abridgment includes digests of all Canadian common law reported and unreported court decisions since 1986.

The Canadian Abridgment is available in two ways:

  • In print in the Law Library, Row 8.  Call number Dig-Can KE173 C363
  • Online through WestlawNext Canada (law students only; password required)

Research Guides and Tutorials:

The Canada Digest

The Canada Digest includes 52 topical titles that contain digests, or summaries of court and tribunal decisions, organized in a hierarchical classification system. 

The Canada Digest is not available in print but is available through LexisNexis Quicklaw.

Research Guides and Tutorials:


Maritime Law Book

Maritime Law Book (MLB) publishes case reports in all Canadian jurisdictions.

MLB's National Reporter System uses a key number index to classify case digests topically and hierarchically. The MLB databases can be searched by these key numbers.

The Master Key Word Index is a loose-leaf volume that can help researchers locate relevant key numbers.

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This work by The University of Victoria Libraries is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License unless otherwise indicated when material has been used from other sources.