22 Legal Databases

A recurring theme of this book is that we are presenting only a brief snapshot of regulations and laws.  They do change with time including during the time this book was written.  For selected regulations the quickest way to get an updated regulation is to go the official sources to provide the latest version.   Official sources exist in most jurisdictions.  For example Alberta’s laws are officially available from the Alberta Kings Printer.  Federal regulations are readily available from Justice Canada in either English or French.

But if  you were going to do a comparative study of climate laws across the provinces this would be a tedious way to go. You would need to search 10 or more different official outlets.   So, we want to search something like a database.

The following databases may be useful.

CANLII  (Canada)

The Canadian Legal Information Institute (CANLII) is one of those great ideas you wish you had. CANLII contains all the acts, regulations, and many court cases of Canada under one website.

CANLII may not include all the cases, but it is an impressive database. It is run for lawyers and the public and is funded by lawyers (CanLII, n.d.).  This book uses CANLII extensively.

Try it at:  https://www.canlii.org/en/

VLEX (United States)

Air quality management in Canada today is heavily influenced by the United States.  So, it makes sense to follow CANLII, with a note on VLEX.  This is a United States version of a legal database.  It also has news alerts on legal events as well as an artificial intelligence (AI) to help find legal precedents (VLEX, n.d.).

Try it at: https://ca.vlex.com/

ECOLEX (International)

Environmental issues like air quality are clearly local, national, and international issues. So, it can be helpful to know world regulations.  The UNEP, supported by FAO and IUCN have developed and operate a similar idea of a database to only focus on environmental law.  According to the ECOLEX website much of the funding was from the Dutch government (ECOLEX, n.d.).

Try it at: https://www.ecolex.org/

BAILEE (United Kingdom)

Air quality regulations started in the UK in our modern era in 1956 with the UK Clean Air Act.  Compared to VLEX and CANLII, this database appears a bit dated from a technology perspective. But where else are you going to be able to look at laws as old as 1215. Yes, the Magna Carta with annotations is there.

An interesting feature is a set of links to similar databases around the world including CANLII (BAILEE, n.d.).

Try it at https://www.bailii.org/

London School of Economics (LSE) (International)

This one seems a bit odd for an entry, but in one of the London School of Economics (LSE) “schools” they hold a world database of climate laws grouped according to country.  This database gives you the ability to track climate initiatives across the world (Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment  (n.d.).

It will overlap with other databases but is an interesting source for world view on climate change.  When looking up Canada, you will note it only covers federal laws.

Try it at https://climate-laws.org/

Section Conclusion

It is important to use the most current regulations in regulatory management, whether for compliance or research.   By using these databases we can improve our efforts at understanding the most current laws and then ensuring compliance.

Learning Questions

  1. Use the databases to find a law on sulphur emissions from as many countries as possible.


Alberta Kings Printer. (n.d.). Home Page, Government of Alberta, Retrieved from https://www.alberta.ca/alberta-kings-printer.aspx

British and Irish Legal Information Institute (BAILEE). (n.d.), Home page. Retrieved from https://www.bailii.org/

Canadian Legal Information Institute (CANLII ). (n.d.). About page. Retrieved from https://www.canlii.org/en/

ECOLEX (n.d.). About page. United Nations. Retrieved from https://www.ecolex.org/

Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.  (n.d.). Climate change Laws of the World. London School of Economics. Retrieved from https://climate-laws.org/

Justice Canada. (n.d.). Home page. Government of Canada. Retrieved from https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/

VLEX (n.d.) Home Page. Retrieved from  https://ca.vlex.com/



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Regulations and the Environment Copyright © 2023 by Tim Taylor is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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