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SENG 401 - Introduction to Legal Research for Software Engineering

About Legislation

Legislation is one of the primary sources of the law, the other two being Case Law and constitutional law. Legislation mainly consists of statutes and regulations which can be passed by the federal government, provincial or territorial government.


In Canada statutes are enacted by the federal parliament or the provincial and territorial legislatures.

One statute is paramount: the Constitution Act, 1982 (and associated statutes and appendices that form the Constitution of Canada). All statutes – federal, provincial and territorial – must comply with Constitution.

Federal statutes cover matters that fall under the federal government's s. 91 constitutional jurisdiction.

Provincial statutes cover matters that fall under the provincial government's s. 92 exclusive constitutional jurisdiction.


Regulations set specific rules for fulfilling the purpose of a statute.

Regulations are called "subordinate legislation" – they are subordinate to statutes, the authority for a regulation must derive from its parent statute. Regulations are not passed by Parliament or legislatures. Rather, they are prescribed by government departments or ministries. This allows them to be set or amended frequently or quickly.

Finding legislation

Often you will know the name of the statute you are looking for. In other situations you need to find out if there is an applicable statute and then discover its name. Once you find the statute, you will also need to determine whether any regulations apply to the issue you're researching.

Resources you will find helpful include

  • Secondary Sources(in this guide)
  • CanLII -- Includes statutes and regulations from all Canadian jurisdictions. Contains consolidations and some point-in-time information. Coverage and currency varies with the jurisdiction.
  • Federal Legislation:
  • B.C. Legislation
    • BC Laws -- Freely available database of consolidated BC statutes and regulations since 1996, with point-in-time features, historical tables, tables of legislative changes.
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