Library Notes for Political Science

Teaching resources, news, and links to keep McGill’s Political Scientists informed

Nomus: new Canadian legal research tool

Posted by Megan on April 16, 2010

The Montreal Gazette featured a story today on a free legal search utility created by a McGill law student. Called Nomus, the search engine is designed to be a simple and efficient tool for retrieving provincial and federal legal decisions. It includes freely available repositories of court judgments as listed here.

Quick comparisons with CanLII show similar, though not identical, results. Both resources have a useful function for retrieving additional cases that cite a given case. Nomus also has a feature for finding “related cases,” whereas CanLII includes a more structured “Reflex Record” of related decisions, legislation cited and decisions cited. CanLII also includes PDF versions of documents for easy saving and printing.

Nomus can be searched using typical web search strategies as described on the FAQ page. One minor annoyance, though, is that by default, multiple terms are treated as having an OR operator. In other words, a search for aboriginal rights retrieves all records with either the word aboriginal OR the word rights. In order to have both words in a given item, you need to search for aboriginal AND rights.

Although there is a French interface, the help files, etc. are English-only so far.

Nomus is perhaps not yet a replacement for CanLII, but still worth checking out.


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