23 Forms and Precedents

Forms & Precedents

Forms and precedents are documents drafted by experts that serve as a starting point for your work. Use them when you need to draft a form, instead of drafting from scratch. They will help you save time, and ensure you cover essentials. Usually, it’s not feasible to simply take a form and use it “as is.” Use them for inspiration or confirmation, and by combining clauses from multiple forms.

Examples include (but are not limited to) contracts, leases, licensing agreements, and cohabitation agreements. Some are mandated by legislation (court forms), but most are not. Generally, forms and precedents are more “fill in the blank” than “filled in.” Especially in regards to court forms, the particulars of a given situation tend to be so unique that any filled in content would be of limited applicability.

Find forms and precedents in major, broad scope sets: O’Briens (on Westlaw and in print), and Canadian Forms and Precedents (on Quicklaw and in print).

  • Also consider topical collections: Find these by searching a library catalogue for general area of law + “forms.”
  • Many topical textbooks also contain some forms.
  • CPD/CLE are excellent for new and notable topics. As well, the Law Society of Ontario has created an Annotated Document Series. With over 20 topics addressed so far, each title contains a sample document with clause by clause commentary and tips. Available online on AccessCLE.

Still not finding exactly what you need? If you are looking for a form that does not have any sort of legislative component or reference, you are not limited to Canadian resources. Most jurisdictions have their own forms sets, many of which are far more extensive than Canadian sets. Some Westlaw Edge Canada subscriptions include access to Westlaw US, where West’s Legal Forms and American Jurisprudence Legal Forms 2d may be found (amongst many, many other sources).

How to Use Forms and Precedents

  • Find a sample form or precedent that suits your situation as closely as possible.
  • Tailor the precedent to suit your needs. These are sample wordings or frameworks, not complete “fill in the blanks.”
  • Ensure that the resulting form only addresses all the necessary issues and does not do anything you don’t want it to do.


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Legal Research - A Practical Perspective Copyright © 2022 by Meris Bray is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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