Skip to main content

Law, Human Rights Guide

Legal Dictionaries / Words & Phrases

Legal Dictionaries / Words & Phrases

Legal dictionaries and Words and Phrases can help you research the meaning of legal terms and the legal interpretation of legal words and phrases. This can help when you’re trying to interpret a statute for which there is no clear case law or if you’re trying to discern the meaning of a word in a key legal document, such as a contract or a will.

Legal Dictionaries

Legal dictionaries define common legal words and terms. The entries are alphabetical and may include references to case law.

Words & Phrases

Words and phrases sources provide the meanings of words as defined by the courts. They also provide references to statutes or case law where words or phrases are defined. These definitions can have legal authority because they have been defined in the courts.

Legal Encyclopedias

Legal Encyclopedias

Legal encyclopedias contain narrative summaries of the law supported by references to case law and statutes. They are often the best place to start to gain a general understanding of the law in a particular area.

There are two main legal encyclopedias in law: the Canadian Encyclopedic Digest (CED) and Halsbury's Laws of Canada (Halsbury's). CED covers federal, western, and Ontario jurisdictions, and Halsbury's covers all provincial and federal jurisdictions. Both are available in print in the Law Library in the reference section on the first floor.

Electronically, CED is available in Westlaw Edge, while Halsbury's is available in Lexis+.

Canadian Encyclopedic Digest

  • Available via Westlaw Edge (law students only) and in print in the reference section (available to all students)
  • Helpful titles include:
    • Human Rights (title 82 in vol. 31 in print)
    • International Law (title 87 in vol. 34 in print)
      • Note: the International Law title hasn't been updated since 1995, so use with caution.

Halsbury's Laws of Canada

  • Available via Lexis+ (law students only), the campus-wide version of Quicklaw (available to all students), and in print in the reference section (available to all students)
  • Helpful titles include:
    • Discrimination and Human Rights (title code HDH)
    • Public International Law (title code HPI)



To search for books at UNB Libraries, use UNB WorldCat. UNB WorldCat contains records of materials held at the Harriet Irving, Science and Forestry, Engineering, Hans W. Klohn, and Law libraries.

Search UNB WorldCat:
Limit to: 


Items shown as LAW-RESERVE may be requested at the circulation desk on the first floor of the Law Library. Bring the book's call number with you to the desk. Items shown as LAW-STACKS are on the second floor, and LAW-REF materials are on the first floor in the reference section.

The following books may be useful in your research:



Journal Articles & Databases

Journal Articles & Databases

If you already know the journal title, year, volume number and page number for an article, you may be able to access it electronically by searching for the journal's title in the UNB e-journals database. If we have the journal electronically or in print, it will be listed. You can also look up the journal title in UNB WorldCat.

Keep in mind that it can be best to start with an index rather than a full-text database. An index is essentially a list of articles by topic. Sometimes the article will be available full-text, but often you'll just be given a citation that you can use to track it down somewhere else.

Key Legal Databases:

Legislation & Case Law

Legislation & Case Law

Key Resources

The following databases and websites provide access to legislation and/or case law.


The following statutes are related to human rights law. For statutes not listed, search the databases listed above.

Cases Digests

Along with searching the databases mentioned above, you should use a case digest to find case law. A case digest service indexes cases by topic, and each topic is broken down into several subtopics. With a case digest, you might find ten, twenty, or hundreds of cases on your research topic, saving you hours of time.

Two important case digests are the Canadian Abridgment Digests and the Canada Digest.

  • Canadian Abridgment Digests
    • Available via Westlaw Edge (law students only) and in print in the reference section (available to all students)
    • Useful titles include:
      • Human Rights (vols 50-50B in print)
      • International Law (vol 60 in print)
  • Canada Digest
    • Available via Lexis+ and the campus-wide version of Quicklaw (available to all students)
    • Click Case Summaries > All Canada Digests for a list of topics
    • Useful titles include:
      • Canada Human Rights Law Digest
      • Canada International Law Digest

International Treaties & Documents

International Treaties & Documents

A treaty is a formal agreement between two or more countries. A treaty may also be known as an international agreement, pact, convention, protocol, or covenant.

Treaties can be bilateral, multilateral, or plurilateral:

  • Bilateral: treaties between Canada and one other country
  • Multilateral: treaties between three or more countries
  • Plurilateral: treaties between one State and a group of States

Canadian Treaties and Documents (via Global Affairs Canada)

United Nations Documents

International, Foreign, and U.S. Treaties

Government Documents

Government Documents

Government departments and agencies publish a great deal of important law-related information. The Law Library's collection of printed government documents is located on the library's third floor. Use UNB WorldCat to search, or ask a library staff member for help.

The Harriet Irving Library also has government documents, which can be located through UNB WorldCat.

For government documents that are available online, try using UNB Libraries' Google Custom Search.

Note: if you include (and/or and filetype:pdf in a Google search, you will retrieve PDF documents from Government of Canada websites. This is a good way to find government reports, as they are usually in PDF format.

The following sites might be useful:

Websites & Blogs

Websites & Blogs

The following sites may be helpful for your research:

There are many blogs maintained by lawyers and law firms, and you can find many of them at There are several blogs listed in the human rights category that may be helpful.

More Information More Information