Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Some Q & A's on the new BC Laws website

We received some questions from a public librarian about the new BC Laws website, and decided to share the answers from a Courthouse Libraries BC reference librarian.

Q: BC Laws vs QP LegalEze . They both seem to be up-to-date. Is there any advantage in staff using QP LegalEze over BC Laws?

A: QP LegalEze has the better search engine (this is the big advantage). BC Laws only has a current consolidation of the statutes & regulations, so does not provide older consolidations, bills, hansard and tables of legislative changes. For a complete description of the differences, see #16 of BC Laws FAQ’s .

Q. Both QP LegalEze and BC Laws have the "unofficial" version of statutes. Does this still mean printouts would be inadmissable in court?


A. It depends. Currently, the Evidence Act states that copies must be made from the bound volumes, however a judge may accept a copy of a consolidated act from an electronic source in some circumstances. Since we don’t give legal opinions we can’t say for sure what is and what is not admissible in court. You can refer people to the Supreme Court Self-Help Centre website for information regarding preparing for court. The electronic version may become official eventually, but we cannot say when.

Q. What is the easiest way of tracing back legislation? We have some early annual volumes, then the looseleaf versions of 1960 and 1970 Revised Statutes of BC.

A. It depends on how far back you want to go; QP LegalEze has some old consolidations of acts [see the Table of Contents page]. The easiest thing to do is to simply look for a consolidation before the date you are interested in, and then check the next consolidation to see if there have been any changes. If the consolidation before the date and the consolidation after the date read the same then you know it hasn’t changed and you know how it read on the date you care about. I should warn you that when you are looking at the consolidations from 1991-1996, the acts from this time period may have a different title, and the section numbers may be different from a current act. For example: The current Local Government Act was known as the Municipal Act pre 1996.

If you have compared two consolidations and notice a change, you can try looking for the amendment if it was 1996 or later. For amendments before 1996 you need to refer to the bound annual volumes. As usual, you can call Courthouse Libraries BC for help (1-800-665-2570, or 604-660-2841 Lower Mainland).

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