Shaunna Mireau on Canadian Legal Research

Tips on Canadian legal research from the Library at Field LLP.
Postings are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the firm.

April 07, 2015

Commissioners of Oaths in Alberta Have New Rules

~ a slightly modified post~

Waaaay back in 2013 there was an Alberta Bill passed that consolidated the Notaries Public Act and the Commissioners for Oaths Act. These two pieces of legislation are in place to make the rules for notarizing and commissioning documents clear and to provide a way to deal with any problems that crop up, among other things. The Notaries and Commissioners Act SA 2013, N-5.5 will come into force on April 30, 2015.
Some of the changes for Commissioners:

Old legislation: commissioners appointments (if appointed after June 1991) expired on the third birthday after appointment unless cancelled by the Minister in writing.
New legislation: commissioners terms of office are (the same) defined in a regulation [this means that they are much easier to change].

Old legislation: commissioners by virtue of their office who could administer oaths and take and receive affidavits made outside Alberta for use in Alberta, declarations and affirmations included members of a Metis settlement council, a school trustee.
New legislation: For documents and oaths made outside Alberta for use in Alberta, only Saskatchewan side commissioners who live or provide services in Lloydminster, political representatives and active full time officers in the Canadian Forces are listed in the legislation (section 16(3)).

Old legislation: commissioners legibly inserted their name, and if they were appointed by the Minister (rather than by virtue of office) their commission termination date; liable for a fine of $100 if non-compliant.
New legislation: commissioners legibly insert their name, “A Commissioner for Oaths in and for Alberta”, appointment expiry or if by virtue of office, their office status (i,.e Student-at-Law); liable for a fine of $1000 if non-compliant.

Old legislation: penalty for not following the rules or representing yourself as a commissioner when you are not one – $500
New legislation: penalty for not following the rules or representing yourself as a commissioner when you are not one – $5000

New legislation: you can only apply to be a commissioner if you are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.
New legislation: the Minister may establish directives governing the duties of commissioners as well as a code of conduct
New legislation: the Minister may issue written directions to the Judicial Council, Law Society, employers of commissioners and anyone else the Minister considers it to be necessary to administer the act
New legislation: contains consequential amendments to the Alberta Evidence Act regarding oaths made outside Alberta, changing the definition of lawyer and restricting effective guarantees to lawyers (as opposed to Notaries) in the Guarantees Acknowledgment Act. There are also clean up references in other acts.


March 24, 2015

Celebrating achievment

I have been a very quiet blogger lately with a reasonably good excuse.  Since the beginning of August, 2014, I have been working to achieve certification in Lean Six Sigma. As of last Sunday, the formal part of my education in this discipline is now complete.
Why is Six Sigma certification so important to me? That is a question I have been asking myself - most often when working on a statistics question.

The answer is that it is important to me to perform at a high level. I want to advise my colleagues on the best way forward for their process improvement initiatives.  I want to work with teams who get to that high functioning sweet spot of maximum  output.  When I suggest a path, I want my colleagues to trust that I am not sending them on the pot-hole filled, meandering,  gravel side road, but ahead of the line of vehicles on that freshly paved, multi-lane, freeway that has great merge lanes, off ramps, and rest stops.

For me, achieving a Master Certificate in Six Sigma is the road map and the compass and the GPS.  The tool box of tested methodology to find the best way forward. 

It was also a lot of fun!


December 18, 2014

Getting Feedback

Between blogging at, posting legal research tips at, and taking courses towards Lean Six Sigma certification, this poor blog has not had much attention in 2014.  Christmas is the traditional time for guilt trips. Rather than focusing on the negative feelings from leaving this site without nourishment, I decided to give a compliment to the Attorney At Work site.

An excellent Daily Dispatch post by Mary Lokensgard on December 18, 2014 titled How to Ask for Feedback is one example of why I think highly of Attorney at Work.  I also appreciate their focus on one really good idea every day.

I agree with Mary that feedback is a dialog.  It is an innovation tool.

To put feedback into a legal research perspective - wouldn't you like to KNOW if what you provided was too little, too much, or just right? Isn't it better for your requester to know when you had too little time, too much time, or the predicted amount of time to complete the task?

I see feedback as a key driver for expectation management.

Thanks Attorney at Work for the excellent intel in 2014.

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July 10, 2014

New "small" for small claims

The Alberta Provincial Court Civil Division monetary limit has been raised to $50,000 with this regulation amendment. Effective August 1, 2014 a small claim is not so small.


June 18, 2014

Survey: Alberta Law Libraries

Attention: Law librarians

The Law Society of Alberta is seeking input from the legal community on our future involvement in funding of Alberta Law Libraries. The consultation will solicit input from practicing lawyers, the judiciary, law librarians and other stakeholders on library usage patterns, emerging trends in use of online resources, and how the libraries support professional competency.

Please take five minutes to complete the following survey by Friday, June 27th. Your feedback is appreciated and will be used to inform future decisions regarding the governance and funding of the Alberta Law Libraries.

My perspective: As a law firm librarian, I rely on the expertise of the staff at Alberta Law Libraries, the currency and breadth of their collection, and their presence in Courthouses where my lawyer team members have immediate access to resources.  

There is no way that a law firm, even large firms, can maintain a 'just in case' collection.  Institutions like Alberta Law Libraries are an extremely important industry partner to law firms with in house library staff, just as they are to small and solo practitioners, self-represented litigants and the judiciary.

I hope that stakeholders will take the time to answer this survey.  

If you think that you only use your law firm collection, remember the times that your law firm library staff have "zipped over to the courthouse library" or "called the courthouse library" to retrieve an essential piece of the legal research puzzle. Perhaps you remember attending a Head Start event. Maybe you popped in to the Alberta Law Libraries to use on of the research tools that they license for your benefit. Perhaps you selected a research guide on their website. Maybe you follow their blog.

As for me, I will be hanging out at the Edmonton site of Alberta Law Libraries for the next two days as we partner, through the Edmonton Law Libraries Association, to offer the Head Start legal research training program to 48 articling students and use the essential expertise of ALL librarians and the collections and services they offer as a resource. 

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