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About Globalex

Legal Information Institutes
and the Free Access to Law Movement

 

By Graham Greenleaf

Graham Greenleaf  is a Professor of Law at the University of New South Wales, and Co-Director of AustLII.[i]

 

Published February 2008

 

Table of Contents

Part I: Development of the LIIs and Free Access to Law Movement
Concept of a Legal Information Institute               
Initial development of LIIs 1992-2000
The ‘Law via Internet’ Conferences          
The Free Access to Law Movement (FALM)         
Aims, cooperation and standards
Scope and membership of the FALM
Funding free access to law
Development of networks 2002-07
Internet search engines, ‘open content’ and LIIs
Part II: A-Z of Legal Information Institutes
Asian Legal Information Institute (AsianLII)
Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII)
British & Irish Legal Information Institute (BAILII)
Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII)
Commonwealth Legal Information Institute (CommonLII)
CyLaw  
Droit Francophone
Global Legal Information Network (GLIN)
Hong Kong Legal Information Institute (HKLII)
Irish Legal Information Initiative (IRLII)
Istituto di Teoria e Tecniche dell'Informazione Giuridica (ITTIG)
JuriBurkina
JuriNiger
Juristiches Internetprojekt Saarbrücken (JPS)
Kenya Law Reports (eKLR)
LawPhil
Legal Information Institute (LII (Cornell))
LexUM
New Zealand Legal Information Institute (NZLII)
Pacific Islands Legal Information Institute (PacLII)
Southern African Legal Information Institute (SAFLII)
World Legal Information Institute (WorldLII)
Zambian Legal Information Institute (ZamLII)


 

Part I of this article surveys the group of free access providers of legal information known as ‘the Legal Information Institutes’ (‘LII’s) or ‘the Free Access to Law Movement’. It is not therefore about free access to law generally, but rather about a particular group of its providers who collaborate. Part II gives a brief description of each legal information institute, and references for further reading. Each LII is linked when first mentioned but not on all subsequent occasions.

 

Part I: Development of the LIIs and Free Access to Law Movement

 

Since the mid-1990s the Internet’s World-Wide-Web has provided the necessary technical platform to enable free access to computerised legal information. Prior to the web there were many online legal information systems and numerous legal information products distributed on CD-ROM, but there was no significant provision of free access to legal information anywhere in the world. Both government and private sector online legal publishers charged for access.  The web provided the key element required for free public access - a low cost distribution mechanism. For publishers it was close to a ‘no cost’ distribution mechanism if they were not required to pay for outgoing bandwidth. The ease of use of graphical browsers from around 1994, and the web’s use of hypertext as its principal access mechanism (at that time) meant that the web provided a simple and relatively consistent means by which legal information could be both provided and accessed, an attractive alternative to the proprietary, expensive and training-intensive search engines on which commercial online services largely relied. The development of free access Internet law services was based on these factors.

 

·         Greenleaf G 'Jon Bing and the History of Computerised Legal Research – Some Missing Links'   in Torvund O and Bygrave L (Eds)  Et tilbakeblikk på fremtiden ("Looking back at the future") 61-75, Institutt for Rettsinformatikk, Oslo, 2004

Concept of a Legal Information Institute

In many countries the first parties to exploit the advantages of the web for providing legal information came from the academic sector rather than government, and did so with an explicit ideology of free access provision. Within a few years of the first legal information institute in 1992 the first group of such organisations became known collectively as ‘legal information institutes’ or ‘LIIs’ and those expressions became synonymous with free access to legal information.

 

Two distinguishing characteristic of the ‘LIIs’ (whether or not they use that name), in the sense that the expression is used in this article, are that (i) they publish legal information from more than one source (not just ‘their own’ information), for free access via the Internet, and (ii) they collaborate with each other through membership of the ‘Free Access to Law Movement’. Most but not all share three other characteristics. They collaborate through data sharing networks or portals, and also technical networks for security purposes. Most are independent of government, though this is diminishing as a distinguishing feature. The majority use one of two open source search engines: the Sino search engine developed by AustLII (previously shared, but only open source since 2006), and the Lucene search engine utilised by LexUM in the development of various LIIs.

 

‘Legal information institute’ (or ‘LII’), as used here, therefore refers to a sub-set of the providers of free access to law, namely those from across the world who have decided to collaborate both politically and technically. Taken together, the LIIs are the most coordinated, and among the largest, providers of free access to legal information, but they are far from alone in providing free access to legal information. This article is not about ‘free access to law’ per se, but about a particular grouping of providers of free access to legal information.

Initial development of LIIs 1992-2000

Three LIIs played key roles in early developments. The Legal Information Institute was started at Cornell University Law School in 1992 with a number of databases primarily of US federal law (particularly the US Code and US Supreme Court decisions). ‘The LII’, as it became known, was the first significant source of free access to law on the Internet, and demonstrated that a free access service could provide both a high quality of document presentation, and very high rates of access. It also assisted the development of one of the first other LIIs, ZamLII (1996).

 

The Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII) was started by two Law Schools in Sydney, Australia, in 1995. It borrowed the ‘LII’ suffix from Cornell, as others have done since. By 1999 it had developed databases from all 9 Australian jurisdictions covering key providers of case law, legislation, treaties and some other content. AustLII’s initial significance was that it was the first attempt world-wide to build a comprehensive national free access legal information system rivaling that of commercial publishers. From 1999 AustLII started to use its search engine (Sino) and other software to assist organisations in other countries, usually with academic roots, to establish LIIs with similar functionality. AustLII initially established between 2000-04 servers and databases for five LIIs (BAILII, PacLII, HKLII, SAFLII and NZLII), then ran them from Sydney for a period on behalf of its local partners. The aim of assisting partners to achieve full local take-over as quickly as possible has been successful, with only NZLII’s server still being operated by AustLII.

 

Meanwhile, the long-established LexUM team at the University of Montreal built in 2000 the Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII). It quickly became a very large national LII comprehensively covering Canada’s federal system, matching AustLII in size and usage. LexUM initially used the Sino search engine but then adopting the open-source Lucene search engine and other development tools. Using these, they have developed Droit Francophone (2003), and with local partners developed Juri Burkina (2003) and JuriNiger (2007).  AustLII and LexUM both continue to assist development of LIIs in other countries (working on systems yet to be announced), and although their approaches have been somewhat different, both have been effective.

 

·         Poulin D  ‘Open Access to Law in Developing CountriesFirst Monday Vol. 9, No 12, 6 December 2004; presented at 5th Law via Internet Conference, AustLII, Sydney, 2003

The ‘Law via Internet’ Conferences

The ‘Law via Internet’ Conferences have been the principal means by which cooperation between LIIs has been established. The first was hosted by AustLII in 1997, as were the 2nd (1999), 3rd (2001) and 5th (2003). LexUM/CanLII hosted the 4th (2002), French organisations (as FrLII) hosted the 6th (2004), PacLII the 7th (2006), and LexUM/CanLII the 8th (2008). The 9th Law via Internet Conference will be hosted by ITTGG in Florence. Many of the conference papers are available online in an AustLII database (1997, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005), on the FrLII website (2004), or on LexUM (2002, 2008) and comprise a considerable resource on legal information systems.

The Free Access to Law Movement (FALM)

The Free Access to Law Movement (FALM) is a loose affiliation of legal information institutes. It meets annually if possible during the ‘Law via Internet’ Conference, and by email between Conferences. The first sustained attempt to build some form of international network took place at the at the LII Workshop on Emerging Global Public Legal Information Standards hosted by the LII (Cornell) in July 2000, involving participants from the US, Canada, Australia and South Africa. The expression ‘WorldLII’ was first used there to describe a collaborative LII portal. The FALM was then formed at the 2002 ‘Law via Internet’ Conference in Montreal, and adopted the Declaration on Free Access to Law (Montreal, 2002), sometimes called the ‘Montreal Declaration’. The Declaration has had some amendments since then.  Membership of the FALM is by invitation, with members nominating new candidates, and consensus required. The membership criteria are not fixed but involve adherence to, and support of, the Declaration and activities similar to (but not necessarily identical with) a LII. All 23 LIIs listed in the gazetteer following are members of the FALM, except ZamLII (invited, but no reply). At the 2007 meeting in Montreal, initial steps were taken to turn the ‘Movement’ into a more formally constituted ‘Association’ (FALA), but these have not yet been finalised due some LIIs needing to refer the question back to management boards and the like. A website for the FALM is under construction.

Aims, cooperation and standards

The principal aim of the FALM, re-affirmed at its 2007 meeting, is the provision of assistance by its members to organisations who wish to provide free access to law in countries where that has not yet occurred. This has been successful, as outlined above. It also provides mutual support to organisations already providing free access to law who wish to join the FALM. The Declaration recognises ‘the primary role of local initiatives in free access publishing of their own national legal information’. A second aim stated in the Declaration is that ‘All legal information institutes are encouraged to participate in regional or global free access to law networks.’ As the Declaration puts it, the aim is ‘To cooperate in order to achieve these goals and, in particular, to assist organisations in developing countries to achieve these goals, recognising the reciprocal advantages that all obtain from access to each other's law.’ The main activities of the FALM, in light of these aims, have been sharing of software, technical expertise and experience on policy questions such as privacy issues.  For example, in 2007 there was considerable consultation, though not complete agreement, on what approach to take to proposals by a search engine company which raised privacy issues. There has been some pooling of parallel citation tables so as to facilitate development of automated hypertext linking between LIIs, but this has not advanced far. Individual LIIs have made considerable progress in enhancing their own data through development of systems to recognise and automate parallel citations, such as CanLII’s RefLex.

Although it has not been a matter of the formal development of a standard, there is widespread common usage of the same type of ‘LII citation’ of the format  ‘[<year of publication>] <designator> <sequential number>’. The ‘designator’ is an abbreviation for name of the Court or Tribunal (either designated by it, or applied by the LII with its agreement – see AustLII example), and the sequential number is that of the decisions available for publication from the Court for that year. So  ‘[1998] HCA 1’ was the first decision of the High Court of Australia for 1998 released for publication (and in fact the first decision published using this system). This method of neutral citations for decisions published on LIIs is used by AustLII, BAILII, PacLII, SAFLII, and NZLII, and for the case databases originating on CommonLII, AsianLII and WorldLII. In Australian, English, Singaporean Courts, and New Zealand’s Supreme Court, this method of citation has been adopted officially by the Courts, and the expression ‘Court-designated citations’ is probably best used to describe these citations (see also references to ‘neutral citation’ in Wikipedia ‘Case citation’).  These LIIs have also unilaterally applied these citations to the decisions they publish, as publishers usually do, and in some cases have retro-fitted them to collections of old cases (in which case the ‘year’ is the year in which a court made a decision). CanLII has developed its own slightly different system of neutral citations.

Scope and membership of the FALM

The membership of the Free Access to Law Movement has to date been drawn primarily from LIIs based in academic institutions. However, recent members have included GLIN (US Library of Congress), SAFLII (now based at the South African Constitutional Court, and operated by its Trust), and the Kenya Law Reports (a semi-government body). The key condition for government-based members in the Declaration (as amended in 2007) is that they ‘Do not impede others from obtaining public legal information from its sources and publishing it’. In other words, a government body cannot be a member if it provides free access to law in a way which monopolises the publication of that information or supports such monopoly publication. The key test is whether republication of government information is allowed. Freedom to republish official sources is at the heart of the Free Access to Law Movement, and essential for the operation of LIIs.

Examples of multi-sourced free access government-provided national legal information systems include Legifrance (France), FINLEX (Finland), Jersey Legal Information Board (Jersey), InfoLeg (Argentina), Albanian Official Publications Centre (Albania) and BelgiumLex (Belgian government portal). Perhaps the most outstanding example, EUR-Lex, comes from a regional organization, the European Union. The few examples in Asia include LawNet Sri Lanka and Mongolia’s Legal Unified Information System (legislation) and Judicial Information Centre (cases), both run by the government’s National Legal Centre. None of them are yet members of the FALM, nor have they yet been invited to join. It is not certain that all could do so, as their positions on the question of not impeding republication of government information may vary.

As at the end of 2007, the Free Access to Law Movement only includes a minority of the organizations who are potentially its members, and whose involvement could make it more significant both politically and technically. The most obvious field for expansion of membership is in those government providers of free access to law from multiple sources who meet the republication criteria, as discussed above. Other possible members, not yet invited to join, may come from University-based free access providers of primary materials (for example, Juridicas (UNAM, Autonomous University of Mexico) or AltLaw (Columbia and U. Colorado Law Schools)), from some repositories of legal scholarship (for example, bePress Legal Repository), and from developers of new collaborative forms of legal scholarship such as Wikipedia (which has extensive law content) or (if it develops) JurisPedia. The geographical scope of the FALM is as yet far more limited than the spread of free access to law as an idea and a reality, being concentrated on the Anglophone and Commonwealth countries, the francophone, and parts of Asia. While Africa is well-covered (from both the Anglophone and francophone directions), Latin America, the Middle East, most of Europe and the states of the USA are not yet involved. This is a challenge for a movement which is potentially global, but also indicates that the Free Access to Law Movement and the development of LIIs may yet be far from reaching its maximum impact. One future direction for the LII networks, and the Free Access to Law Movement, is to provide a global alternative to the expanding global reach of the current legal publishing duopoly. In help to provide and sustain better access to law in many countries, the FALM can encourage organizations in those countries to join in a global project that supports economic progress, the rule of law and democracy.

Funding free access to law

The main constraining factor of the non-government LIIs is funding: free to use, but not free to build. Every LII looks after the funding of its own system. The models on which LIIs are funded vary a great deal. AustLII has a ‘multi-contributor’ model, with nearly 200 institutional contributors, plus individual contributors (mainly lawyers). BAILII is similar in having multiple contributors, though fewer. The LII (Cornell) annually solicits funds from the public. Most LIIs have had a considerable deal of academic funding and academic institutional support (particularly HKLII, PacLII, AustLII, LawPhil and BAILII). CanLII is funded primarily by the Canadian legal profession, whereby every Canadian lawyer provides over C$20 per year via their professional associations. Other LIIs have not been able to replicate this. International aid and development agencies have made significant contributions to the development costs of PacLII, SAFLII, Droit Francophone, AsianLII and WorldLII. Strategic alliances with some legal publishers have helped AustLII. A small LII like CyLaw is a personal project. NZLII still lives on ‘the smell of an oily rag’ (a NZ expression) and help from other LIIs, while­ it searches for longer-term funds, as does CommonLII. Kenya Law Reports is trying to move from a model combining government funding with subscription income to one which does without subscriptions. There is no single source likely to fund global free access to law long-term, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. It has been done with ever-widening scope for over a decade. There is not one formula, but as with many other aspects of open content, there are many non-business models by which numerous stakeholders can be engaged. 

 

There as yet few government-based FALM members, but government-based ‘LIIs’ face different funding challenges. GLIN is unusual in having obtained sustained government funding. While there are many individual courts and legislature who publish their own output for free access (often from their own budgets), there are relatively few governments who fund multi-sourced free access national legal information systems (the usage of ‘LII’ in this article), and they are mainly from Europe and some in Latin America (examples are given above). In many developing countries, there are no funds available for development of online legislation or case law unless it is provided by international aid agencies such as the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, CIDA or AusAID. In recent years the World Bank has funded major free access systems in Sri Lanka and Mongolia (mentioned above). The sustainability of these free access facilities, particularly in terms of updating data, often becomes problematic once the initial aid funding ceases. Where this happens, engagement with the FALM members, and the assistance they can provide, may be valuable. In the past, aid and development agencies have often invested considerable funds into national legal information systems, without requiring that free-access systems be developed, and sometimes requiring to the contrary that they adopt ‘pay for use’ models in the hope they will become self-funding. The FALM and its members need to help convince aid and development agencies that free access models can be more sustainable, and socially beneficial, in developing countries than closed ‘pay for use’ models.

 

Development of LII  networks 2002-07

Before 2002 there were some national and regional LIIs, but no multi-LII networks. BAILII and PacLII were multi-country regional systems from inception, but did not involve material from other LIIs. The World Legal Information Institute (WorldLII) (2002) was the first multi-LII site, initially incorporating data from AustLII, BAILII, PacLII, HKLII and CanLII, and from South Africa before SAFLII was formed. A linguistic rather than regional focus was taken by LexUM’s development of Droit Francophone (2003), with initial content concentrating on West and Central Africa, but some databases from across the whole francophonie. It now includes content derived from Juri Burkina. In 2005 AustLII developed the Commonwealth Legal Information Institute (CommonLII) covering Commonwealth and Common Law countries. It was in some respects an English-language response to LexUM (‘droit Anglophone’ is its nickname). CommonLII added databases from 20 additional countries, but relied principally upon the content of existing LIIs: AustLII, BAILII, CanLII, PacLII, HKLII, NZLII, SAFLII and ZamLII. The Asian Legal Information Institute (AsianLII) developed by AustLII in 2006, drew on CommonLII’s content (for 8 Asian Commonwealth countries), PacLII (for PNG) and HKLII (for HK), and added databases from 17 additional Asian countries. All of these developments also expanded the content searchable via WorldLII. In 2007 the databases from 40 countries of the Global Legal Information Network (GLIN) of the Law Library of the US Congress were added to WorldLII’s search scope, giving it a South and Central American dimension previously lacking (though without direct involvement from that region). This cooperation between free-access LIIs has resulted in the joint provision by 17 LIIs of free access to nearly 900 databases from over 130 countries. WorldLII is best seen as the largest portal to this collaborative network, but only one of a growing number of such portals – regional, linguistic, and potentially from other perspectives. The number of databases in the network has been growing by about 20% per year since 2002. While the databases from many of the countries are quite small, they are very substantial from others. From Canada, Australia, Hong Kong, India, Papua New-Guinea, the Philippines, Indonesia, South Africa, Ireland, the UK, New Zealand and many Pacific Island countries, what the LIIs offer is very substantial and includes content not available from commercial legal publishers. Furthermore, the global network the LIIs have built compares well with its two commercial counterparts (the international portals of LexisNexis and Westlaw) in terms of scope, though not necessarily in depth for individual countries.

 

The LII network now relies upon a replication / synchronisation model. A copy of all LII data is held in Sydney by AustLII, replicated daily using rsync. WorldLII, CommonLII and AsianLII are built on that structure, with searches over the locally stored concordances at AustLII producing rapid search results, and users then returned to the databases on the originating LII. The PacLII mirror at AustLII is the one seen by users outside the Pacific, due to slow access speeds to the Vanuatu server. A server at LexUM acts as another hub for some LIIs, as does one at HKLII.

 

·         Mowbray A, Greenleaf G, Chung P and Austin A  ‘Improving stability and performance of an international network of free access legal information systems’, Journal of Information Law & Technology (JILT), 2007

·         G Greenleaf, A Mowbray and P Chung ‘Networking LIIs: how free access to law fits together’ Internet Newsletter for Lawyers, March/April 2007

·         Poulin D, Mowbray A and Lemyre P (2007) "Free Access to Law and Open Source Software" in Handbook of Research on Open Source Software St. Amant & Still (Eds) Information Science Reference, Hershey - New York 2007

·         Greenleaf G Full free access to law: Global policy aspects’ (PPTs) 6th Law via Internet Conference, Paris, November 2004

 

Internet search engines, ‘open content’ and LIIs

The policy of LIIs stated in the Declaration concerning republication of government information does not mean that a LII must declare its content to be ‘open content’ (available for re-use by anyone), but only that it must not hinder others from obtaining the data from its official sources and republishing it. In some countries where doctrines of Crown Copyright still apply (for example, Australia), a LII is not at liberty to permit users to reproduce its data for all purposes. LawPhil is the only LII to provide all its data via a Creative Commons license at this point. CanLII has quite liberal Terms of Use for re-use of data on the CanLII site, possible because of Canada’s Reproduction of Federal Law Order. For some LIIs, the question of re-use is further complicated by privacy and strategic issues. Each LII has different views about the need to protect its own databases, often for privacy reasons with case law (this varies between jurisdictions), but more generally to avoid its often-considerable investment of public monies in collecting data from disparate sources and adding value to it.

The search engines, and networks, of the LIIs still matter in a post-Google world. General Internet search engines such as Google do not provide what the LII networks (or individual LIIs) provide. One reason is that many LIIs use the Robots Exclusion Standard (see also the The Web Robots Pages) to exclude spiders/robots from at least their case-law (variously on privacy policy grounds, as required by data sources, and as required by privacy laws). They include CanLII, BAILII, AustLII, NZLII, HKLII and the networked LIIs. SAFLII allows web spider access to some cases, and LawPhil provides ‘open content’ under a Creative Commons license. Some LIIs exclude robots from all data (on strategic and technical grounds). See the robots.txt file at the root of any LII (e.g. <http://www.austlii.edu.au/robots.txt>) plus its privacy policy, for individual LII details. Networking LIIs can also add many forms of organisation of the data shared between LIIs that general search engines don’t yet provide, such as restricting the scope of searches to legislation from many jurisdictions. The long-term relationship between search engines and LIIs is still developing, with unresolved questions such as the effect of search engines on the sustainability of LII value-adding to raw legal data, from which search engines profit. At this point, ‘free access’ does not necessarily mean ‘free to be found through any search engine’.

 

·         Frédéric Pelletier ‘L'accès aux jugements / Access to Judgments’ [PPT] 8th Law via Internet Conference, Montreal, 2007

 

Part II: A-Z of Legal Information Institutes

 

The existing LIIs are described here in alphabetical order. A legal information system is included in this list if it is a member of the Free Access to Law Movement, or has its content included in one of the LII networks such as WorldLII or Droit Francophone. References to the main articles or papers by LII personnel, or about a LII, are given wherever possible.

 

Asian Legal Information Institute (AsianLII)

The Asian Legal Information Institute (AsianLII), launched by AustLII in December 2006, provides over 175 databases from 27 of 28 countries in Asian (Afghanistan to Japan; Mongolia to Timor-Leste), and from regional organisations such as APEC, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the International Development Law Organisation (IDLO). It is a multi-LII system which, as well as hosting its own databases from 17 countries, makes searchable databases on CommonLII (8 Commonwealth countries in Asia), PacLII (for Papua New Guinea), HKLII (for Hong Kong), LawPhil (some Philippines databases), and GLIN (some Korean and Taiwan databases). The largest database collections are from India and the Philippines. There are databases of legislation in English for almost all countries, but AsianLII also includes a large database collection in Bahasa (for Indonesia) and smaller collections in Portuguese (for Macau) and Vietnamese. AsianLII utilises the WorldLII Catalog for Asian countries, and a similar approach to country ‘home pages’ as is used by WorldLII. It uses the Sino search engine and other AustLII tools. AustLII’s development of AsianLII in 10 developing countries is supported by AusAID, with the aim that independent LIIs will emerge over time. AsianLII is supported by many of the regional law organisations, and by ‘Country Supporting Institutions’ in many of the countries covered.

 

·         Greenleaf G, Chung, P and Mowbray, A 'Challenges in improving access to Asian laws: the Asian Legal Information Institute (AsianLII)' [2007] UNSWLRS 42 (on bepress), in Proceedings of the 4th Asian Law Institute Conference, Jakarta, May 2007

·         Greenleaf G ‘Free access to Japanese and Asian law – The launch of AsianLII in Japan’ [2007] UNSWLRS 60 (on bepress), presentation at the Launch of the Asian Legal Information Institute in Japan, 4 August 2007, Meiji University, Kanda, Tokyo

 

Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII)

The Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII) was formed in 1995 by the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) and University of New South Wales (UNSW) Faculties of Law. AustLII developed from research on hypertext and text retrieval as the ‘DataLex Project’ (1984-94). These and later research papers are listed under AustLII Publications. AustLII is ‘Australasian’ now only because NZLII content is also searchable via AustLII. AustLII provides over 250 databases of Australian law including: consolidated legislation from all 9 jurisdictions; annual legislation and bills from some; Point-in-Time legislation from three States; decisions from over 120 Courts and Tribunals (half of which are not otherwise available online); all Australian Treaties since 1900; law reform reports from all jurisdictions; and over 40 law journals in full text. The historical depth of its case law is very variable, often extending only 5-10 years, but it extends back to the commencement of almost all federal Courts and Tribunals, including being comprehensive for High Court decisions back to the Court’s first decision in 1903. Subject-oriented searchable ‘Libraries’ are developed in some subjects, particularly the Indigenous Law Library, incorporating databases and the Australian part of the Catalog (see below re WorldLII Catalog). AustLII’s Sino search engine provides Boolean and proximity operators, fast response times, and displays of search results by relevance, date or database (see User Guide to AustLII). AustLII has extended its method of neutral citations to apply to other materials such as law journal articles and treaties. AustLII is funded by a succession of academic grants and by over 200 institutional contributors plus many individuals.

 

·         AustLII  AustLII Publications – links to over 50 publications since 1992 (includes DataLex Project publications)

·         Greenleaf G  ‘Data Mining Free Access to Law for Doctrine [PPT] 8th Law via Internet Conference, Montreal, 2007

·         Wittfoth A, Chung P, Greenleaf G and Mowbray A ‘Making Point-in-Time Legislation Generic’ [2005] CompLRes 23; presented at 7th Law via Internet Conference, Vanuatu, 2005

·         Wittfoth A, Chung P, Greenleaf G and Mowbray A ‘AustLII’s Point-in-Time legislation system: A generic PiT system for presenting legislation’; shorter version 'What was the law at that point in time?' pgs 2-4 (NSW) Law Society Journal, May 2005

·         Mowbray A, Austin D and Chung P, "Scalability of Web Resources for Law: AustLII's Technical Roadmap: Past, Present and Future", Journal of Information, Law and Technology (JILT), 2000,  vol 1

·         Greenleaf G, Mowbray A and King G, "New directions in law via the internet - The AustLII Papers", Journal of Information, Law and Technology (JILT), 1997, Issue 2

·         Greenleaf G, Mowbray A, King G and van Dijk P, "Public access to law via internet: the Australasian Legal Information Institute", Journal of Law & Information Science, 1995, Vol 6, Issue 1

·         Greenleaf G, Mowbray A and van Dijk P, ‘Representing and using legal knowledge in integrated decision support systems - DataLex WorkStations’, Artificial Intelligence and Law, (1995) vol 3, nos 1-2, pp 97-124

 

British & Irish Legal Information Institute (BAILII)

The British & Irish Legal Information Institute (BAILII), is based at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, London. It was formed in 2000 following the 'Free the Law' meeting. BAILII is legally constituted in the UK as a company limited by guarantee and as a charitable trust, with a board comprising academics from the various jurisdictions covered, the legal profession, the judiciary and AustLII. It uses AustLII's Sino search engine. BAILII is funded by numerous sponsors, principally from the legal profession and the academic sector.

 

BAILII includes over 80 databases covering 7 jurisdictions (United Kingdom, England and Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Ireland and some European court decisions), comprising around 11 gigabytes of legal materials and around 200,000 searchable documents. BAILII's databases include case law, legislation and law reform reports from all the jurisdictions it covers. As of 2008 it is also starting to include law journals (one and another soon to follow) and books. Although most of BAILII's case-law content is post-1996, through its Open Law Project it has also included selected historical cases of high significance, particularly for legal education, giving BAILII considerable historical depth. BAILII's UK legislation now extends back to the Magna Carta of 1215. It is a complex mix of unconsolidated annual legislation from 1988 plus 'revised' or consolidated legislation. BAILII’s Law Commission (England and Wales) reports also go back to 1965.

 

·         Ury J ‘British and Irish Legal Information Institute (BAILII): Where We are NowInternet Newsletter for Lawyers, Sept/Oct 2004

·         Leith P BAILII in a Nutshell  (undated)

·         Holmes N ‘Five Years of Free LawComputers and Law, December 2004 (available via InfoLaw website)

·         Brook, Sir Henry ‘Where We Are Now’, Internet Newsletter for Lawyers, Jan/Feb 2003

·         Joint Evening Meeting - Free the Law (transcript) 2000 (1) The Journal of Information, Law and Technology (JILT)

 

Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII)

The Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII) is the largest free-access provider of Canadian legal material.  Founded in 2000, CanLII is a non-profit organization managed by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada. The CanLII website is operated by LexUM at the University of Montreal (see separate entry below). CanLII’s databases include decisions of Canadian superior courts and a broad range of administrative tribunals (more than 120 databases for a total of approximately 450 000 cases), with historical scope typically back to around 2000 but sometimes considerably earlier (to 1985 for Supreme Court decisions).  CanLII also publishes historical and up-to-date versions of legislation from all but one of the 14 Canadian jurisdictions.  These documents are made accessible through a bilingual (English-French) user interface, enhanced with a large number of automated features, such as keywords generation, noteup and citation record, occurrence finder, etc. The search facilities are based on the Lucene search engine. CanLII’s Reflex provides for each decision on CanLII a "RefLex record" that presents its legislative and judicial context, including related decisions, ‘noteups’ (decisions citing the decision), and legislation and decisions cited.  CanLII has developed its own citation system, which both adopts neutral citations where used by Canadian courts, and adds a neutral citation in other instances. CanLII provides RSS feeds of decisions by many courts. CanLII has quite liberal Terms of Use for re-use of data on the CanLII site.

 

·         Guillaume B ‘L'implémentation d'un système de publication des lois dans le cadre du projet CanLII : solutions, leçons et perspectives d'avenir’, FrLII, 2004.

·         Harvey F ‘Automatisation du processus de publication des décisions de CanLII: présent et future’ FrLII, 2004

·         Mokanov I and Abad V ‘La gestion de la qualité dans la diffusion libre du droit : l'exemple canadien’, FrLII, 2004

·         Poulin D ‘CanLII - How the Bar and Academia can make free access to the Law a reality’, Proc. 3rd Law via the Internet 2001, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia, 2001

·         Poulin D, Salvas B and Pelletier F, ‘La diffusion du droit canadien sur Internet’, 102 R. du N. 189, 2000

·         Salkvas B ‘CanLII/IIJCan: The Construction of a Resource Giving Free Access to Canadian Law’, Proc 4th Law via the Internet Conference, Montreal, 2002

 

Commonwealth Legal Information Institute (CommonLII)

The Commonwealth Legal Information Institute (CommonLII) was started by AustLII in 2005 as a common search mechanism for Commonwealth and common law countries, and to encourage development of a genuinely international common law. It is therefore English-based linguistically (‘droit Anglophone’ is its nickname). It is a multi-LII system which largely depends upon the content of other LIIs (AustLII, BAILII, PacLII, HKLII, NZLII and SAFLII), but also adds over 50 databases from 19 Commonwealth countries which do not yet have their own LIIs (mainly in South Asia and the Caribbean). Part of CommonLII’s purpose is to encourage new LII development in these countries and regions, and AustLII is developing partnerships there. CommonLII provides a facility to search over 560 databases from all 53 Commonwealth countries, plus some territories and other common law jurisdictions (Hong Kong and Ireland). CanLII content is not available at the time of writing. CommonLII utilises the WorldLII Catalog for the countries it covers, and a similar approach to country ‘home pages’ as is used by WorldLII. It uses the Sino search engine and other AustLII tools. Some special search facilities allow all legislation, cases or law reform to be searched together, or for all countries in a region to be searched together. CommonLII is supported by a range of Commonwealth institutions, including the Commonwealth Law Ministers Meeting and the Commonwealth Secretariat Legal and Constitutional Division, but its funding support to date has come largely from Australian academic and government sources.

 

·         Greenleaf G, Mowbray A and Chung P  ‘Building a commons for the common law - The Commonwealth Legal Information Institute (CommonLII) after two years progress Proc. Meeting of Senior Officials of Commonwealth Law Ministries, Marlbrough House, London, October 2007

·         Greenleaf G, Chung P and Mowbray A ‘A new home online for Commonwealth law: A proposal for a CommonLII’ 2004 (2) The Journal of Information, Law and Technology (JILT)

 

CyLaw

CyLaw  was established in 2002 by a Cyprus lawyer and contains all judgments issued by the Supreme Court of Cyprus since 1997 and some in 1996 (in Greek). It also provides the Competition Commission decisions (in Greek) Civil Procedure rules and some law journal articles. It uses AustLII’s Sino search engine.

 

Droit Francophone

Droit Francophone is the French-speaking legal portal of the Organisation internationale de la francophonie (OIF) and is operated by LexUM.  Operating since 2003, Droit Francophone aims at improving access to legal material from OIF member countries, most of which are located in the developing world. The databases on Droit Francophone (including over 4000 texts) include legislation from 21 countries and regional organisations, and case law from 10. It also provides access to the content of Juri Burkina (see separately below). Droit Francophone also provides a catalog of more than 4000 legal websites concerning law of the francophonie that are evaluated and commented, and a Web search engine indexing more than 6 million legal Web pages from those websites.  A Web-based interface allows for the remote decentralized management of its content by representatives from each of the national structure in charge of access to law.  With OIF support, those representatives meet annually to discuss strategies regarding free access to law.

 

·         Tagodoe A ‘Diffusion du droit et Internet en Afrique de l'ouest’, Lex Electronica, vol. 11, n°1, 2006

·         Lemyre P ‘Droit francophone : de catalogue à portail’, FrLII, Paris, 2004

·         Lemyre P, Coulibaly B and Viens F ‘Free Access to Law in the French-Speaking World: A Renewed Strategy’, 2004 UTS Law Review 5

·         Poulin D La diffusion libre du droit des pays francophones, Mission report prepared for l'Agence de la Francophonie, 2002

·                      

Global Legal Information Network (GLIN)

The Global Legal Information Network (GLIN), operated by the US Library of Congress, is database of official texts of laws, regulations, judicial decisions, and other complementary legal sources contributed by governmental agencies and international organizations. The 40 countries plus international organisations that are GLIN members contribute the full texts of their published documents to the database in their original languages. GLIN’s member countries are predominantly from Latin America but include quite a  few other countries (e.g. Romania, South Korea and Spain). Each document is accompanied by a summary in English and, in many cases in additional languages, plus subject terms selected from the multilingual index to GLIN. Over 150,000 items have been contributed. All summaries are available to the public, and public access to full texts is also available for 25 of the 40 jurisdictions covered by GLIN. Searching is the only access mechanism, but allows results to be sorted by relevance, by date or by jurisdiction. The GLIN data is also presented on WorldLII so that it can be searched using the Sino search engine. The GLIN abstracts can also be browsed there by year (from 1776), and by country (and by year within each country).

 

·         Medina R ‘Global Legal Information Network’, 6th Law via Internet Conference, Paris, 2004

·         Prescott D ‘The UN and the Global Legal Information Network’, UN Chronicle Online Edition, 2005, Issue 4

 

Hong Kong Legal Information Institute (HKLII)

The Hong Kong Legal Information Institute (HKLII), established in 2002, has been operated since 2003 by the China IT & Law Centre jointly established by Department of Computer Science and the Faculty of Law of the University of Hong Kong. It provides 12 databases of the law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR). The case law covers most significant Courts and Tribunals, in considerable depth in some cases (the Court of Appeal back to 1968). Consolidated Ordinances and Regulations include a facility to obtain historical versions. Law reform reports and Practice Directions complete the collection.  The legislation and some case law is provided in both English and Chinese, with AustLII’s Sino search engine used to search the English  texts, and Chinese texts searched using a modified version of the mnoGoSearch engine. Through the China IT & Law Centre, HKLII is also involved in the operation of the Community Legal Information Centre (CLIC), a bilingual community legal information web-site, with extensive links to HKLII. It is aimed at helping the general public to find relevant Hong Kong legal information (see CLIC leaflet) and is funded by the HKSAR Department of Justice.

 

·         Lui Che Woo Law Library ‘A to Z of HKLII’, University of Hong Kong, 2004

·         Pun K H, Chan E, Chow K P, Chong C F, Ma J, Hui L, Tsang W W, Chan H W, Cross-referencing for bilingual electronic legal documents in HKLII’, 6th Law via Internet Conference, Paris, 2004

·         Pun K H, Ip G, Chong C F, Chan V, Chow K P, Hui L, Tsang W W, Chan H W ‘Processing Legal Documents in the Chinese-Speaking World: the Experience of HKLII’ Proc 3rd Law via Internet Conference, AustLII 2003

·         Greenleaf G, Chung P, Mowbray A, Chow, K P, and Pun K H 'The Hong Kong Legal Information Institute (HKLII): Its role in free access to global law via the Internet'  (2002) Vol 32 Pt 2 Hong Kong Law Journal 401-427 Sweet and Maxwell Asia (available via SSRN)

 

Irish Legal Information Initiative (IRLII)

The Irish Legal Information Initiative (IRLII) was established in 2001 by University College, Cork (UCC) Law Faculty, as part of its contribution to the BAILII project.  IRLII assists in providing BAILLI with Irish content, and separately provides up-to-date browseable Irish Legislation (BAILII’s is not up-to-date). It also offers additional index services: the IRLII Index of Cases, a complete searchable index and citator of decisions of the Irish High Court and Supreme Court, from1997 (plus older leading cases), with links to available texts on BAILII; the IRLII Periodical Index (located separately as LegalPeriodicals.org), a searchable index of all academic articles published in 15 Irish journals from 1997 to date; and an index of Leading Cases by Subject. UCC also maintains the ‘Irish Law Site’ with guides to Irish law, blogs and discussion lists, and a free access student law journal, and sites on FOI Law and Restitution and Unjust Enrichment.

 

Istituto di Teoria e Tecniche dell'Informazione Giuridica (ITTIG)

The Institute of Legal Information Theory and Techniques (ITTIG) is a research center belonging to the Italian National Research Council.  ITTIG is involved in a broad range of activities including research, specialized training, consultancy and technical-scientific transferal in the field of information and communications technology applied to law and public administration.  It produces and distributes various national and international databases and developed specialized tools and software for online legal information retrieval.  Among these, ITTIG contributed to the conception of the Italian national portal of public laws, Norme in Rete, a distributed database of legislative material available on the various websites of the public administration.  It also manage DoGi, a resource providing free access to abstracts of articles published in the Italian legal periodicals.

 

·         Peruginelli G and Francesconi E ‘A Semantic Modeling Approach for the Retrieval of Legislation and Doctrine: an Italian Experience’ [PPT] 8th Law via Internet Conference, Montreal, 2007

·         Faro S, Marinai E Il progetto "NIR - Accesso alle Norme in Rete" - Il portale di accesso unificato alla normativa pubblicata sui siti istituzionali italiani, INFORMATICA 2002, IV Conferencia Internacional de Derecho e Informatica (La Habana, 21 febbraio 2002)

·         Ciampi C, Guidotti, P, Marchetti A, Megale F, Ragona M, Rolleri F, Serrotti L, Seta E, Socci F, Spinosa P, Vitali F Progetto NIR - Fase 2 "Accesso alle norme in rete". Recupero della normativa pregressa in formato XML e standards del progetto (DTD e URNs) numero speciale della rivista "Informatica e diritto", 2001, 1, 266 pp.

·         Marinai E Gestione informatica della banca dati DoGi, Nota sulla gestione informatica degli aggiornamenti della banca dati DoGi per la pubblicazione sul sito dell'ITTIG e in relazione ai contratti esterni rapporto tecnico n. 5/2002, 36 pp.

 

JuriBurkina

JuriBurkina is the judicial information center of Burkina Faso.  Launched in 2004 with the support of the OIF and the International Development Center of Canada, it is operated by the Burkina Faso Bar Association.  JuriBurkina is the only mean of access to decisions from 8 of the country’s jurisdictions. Burkina Faso has thus become the first country in West Africa to support free access to law.  JuriBurkina uses software developed by LexUM and shared with Droit Francophone.

 

·         Apikul C ‘Making Legal Information Freely Available - JuriBurkina, Burkina Faso’, International Open Source Network Case Study, 2006

·         Lemyre P, and Perpignand E ‘Évaluation du processus de gestion de l'information juridique au SGG-CM du Burkina Faso’, prepared for l'Agence intergouvernementale de la francophonie and Le Secrétariat Général du Gouvernement du Burkina Faso, Burkina Faso, 2004.

·         Sorgho H ‘The JuriBurkina Project : Putting Judicial Decisions from Burkina Faso On-Line, 6th Law via Internet Conference, Paris, 2004

 

JuriNiger

JuriNiger is the most recent LII, operational since late 2007. It was developed by LexUM in conjuction with the Ordre des avocats du Niger. It provides the decisions of the Cour Suprême, Cour d'Appel de Zinder, Tribunal de Première Instance de Niamey and the Cour d'Appel de Niamey, and the Code Penal.

 

Juristiches Internetprojekt Saarbrücken (JPS)

 The Juristiches Internetprojekt Saarbrücken (JPS), known also as Law Web Saarbrücken, is a project coordinated by the Institute of Law and Informatics (Institut für Rechtsinformatik) at the Universität des Saarlandes in Germany. Until late 2007 the website had interfaces in 17 languages (see the archive at Law Web Saarbrücken), but lack of use of the other language interfaces have resulted in the new interface only being in German. The project has a long history as one of the first legal information servers in Germany since 1993 (first Gopher, then www), and since then a key website for free access to law in Germany.  There are many projects in which they have been involved over this period, including developing and continuing to maintain the free access website of the German Constitutional Court, with digitally signed copies of decisions since 1998. They were responsible for publishing Germany's Federal Law Gazette (Bundesgesetzblatt) on the Internet. They support the German Law portal in Wikipedia. The JPS site maintain catalogs of legal websites. Since 1997 they have published the journal JurPC as a free, weekly Internet journal (also on the JurPC site). They publish a substantial website of caselaw on the Lugano Convention for the Court of Justice of the European Communities.

 

Kenya Law Reports (eKLR)

The Kenya Law Reports (eKLR) is operated by the National Council for Law Reporting, a corporate body established by legislation with the exclusive mandate to publish the Kenya Law Reports, the official law reports of the Republic of Kenya which may be cited in proceedings in all courts of Kenya. Its databases are its Case Search (cases have an ‘eKLR’ citation and brief headnotes), Laws of Kenya (complete statutes and subsidiary legislation), various forms of legal notices, and the Environment and Land Law Reports. Since mid-2007 the online version of the Kenyan Law Reports, and all other content of its website (eKLR), has been available for free access instead of its previous subscription basis), and since late 2007 no longer requires user identification (following its membership of the Free Access to Law Movement). However, printing has been disabled for cases already published in the book form of Kenya Law reports. This is the first instance of a previous pay-for-use service becoming a member of the Free Access to Law Movement. eKLR is proposing to collaborate with SAFLII, but as yet the content of eKLR is not available through searches of SAFLII. EKLR uses its own search engine which provides Boolean operators, truncations, saved searches and other features (see User Guide).

·         Kenya Law Reports ‘About eKLR’, undated

·         Migai Akech, J M ‘Land, the Environment and the Courts In Kenya’ Background Paper for DFID / KLR Partnership, February 2006

 

LawPhil

Philippines law has been provided via the Internet by LawPhil (operated by Arellano Law School in Manila and the Arellano Law Foundation) since 2000. Much of the original case and legislation data for LawPhil was provided by a commercial legal publisher at that time, and one of its successors  (Philippines legal publisher CD Asia) has continued to assist LawPhil by providing data. LawPhil has built this data into a very large system including over 50,000 cases from the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal (the Philippines has few inferior courts), Constitutions, and legislation and executive issuances from both the post-1987 Republic and from earlier periods of the Philippines constitutional history (including the martial law period). LawPhil currently uses the Google search engine, but is working with AustLII in 2008 (via the AsianLII project) to rebuild its system including the use of AustLII’s Sino search engine. In 2008 LawPhil has declared its data available under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial 3.0 Philippines License, becoming the first LII to use an open content license for all its materials.

 

·         Magsalin M ‘Free Access to Law in the Philippines: The Lawphil Experience’ 8th Law via Internet Conference, Montreal, 2007

·         Bernadetted C M and Guerrero M V “Lawphil.net: A Step in the Right Direction”, The Philippine IT Law Journal, 2003, Center for E-Law, Arellano Law School, Manila

 

Legal Information Institute (LII (Cornell))

The Legal Information Institute at Cornell University, providing legal information via the Internet since 1992, was the original ‘LII’ in terms of both the name (but is referred to here as ‘LII (Cornell))’ to avoid confusion) and the concept of systematic free access provision to legal materials. It also developed one of the early graphical web browsers, Cello. The LII (Cornell) now provides all opinions of the US Supreme Court since 1992  (plus over 600 earlier decisions of historic importance), the US Code, various Federal codes and rules, decisions of the New York Court of Appeals. It also publishes ‘Libraries’ of commentary on legal ethics and social security. A catalog of links to other major US and international sites is provided. A recent project is Wex, a collaboratively built, free access legal dictionary and encyclopedia, developed in part from its previous ‘Law About …’ series. This is one of the first attempts by a LII to use wiki technology to present its content. Wex content is available for re-use via a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5 Generic License. Another research  project concerns electronic rulemaking. The LII also offers ‘LII downloads’ for purchase, customised sets of teaching materials. The LII uses its own search engine, and the whole site may be searched from the front page. The LII (Cornell) is now funded largely by small donations from individuals, although it was started with major academic funding in 1992-96, and has obtained contributions from legal publishers and other organisations.

 

·         Martin P ‘Finding and Citing the “Unimportant” Decisions of the U.S. Courts of Appeal’, Legal Information Report 2007-1, 2007, LII (Cornell)

·         Bruce T ‘Tears Shed Over Peer Gynt's Onion: Some Thoughts on the Constitution of Public Legal Information Providers’, 2000 (2) The Journal of Information, Law and Technology (JILT); BILETA Conference, 2000

·         Bruce T ‘Public Legal Information: Focus and Future’, 2000 (1) The Journal of Information, Law and Technology (JILT)

·         Martin P ‘Legal Information - A Strong Case for Free Content, An Illustration of How Difficult "Free" May Be to Define, Realize, and Sustain’, Conference on Free Information Ecology, 2000

·         Myers L ‘CU Law institute web site has latest legal information, from Miranda to Elian’, Cornell Chronicle, April 27, 2000

·         LII (Cornell) Archived Papers – links to 11 papers, 1994-98

 

LexUM

LexUM at the University of Montreal is a LII in its own right, but is also the developer of CanLII, Droit Francophone and other major LIIs in the French-speaking world. It undertakes many development projects as a consultancy, primarily concerned with free access to law. An example is the Judgments of the Supreme Court of Canada, and others are found via its list of partners and clients. It commenced in 1993, with a Law Gopher server (then via the Public Law Research Center), created the first Canadian legal site and the first legal site available in French. The main content of the LexUM website at present is its catalog and websearch facility The Canadian Legal Web, enabling CanLII content to be searched together with other Canadian law sites and LexUM's website evolution is illustrated by website screen captures from 1993-03, and its history of publications illustrates its many projects over 15 years.

 

·         LexUM website Publications – links to over 70 publications from 1994.

 

New Zealand Legal Information Institute (NZLII)

The New Zealand Legal Information Institute (NZLII) was established by Otago University Faculty of Law in 2004, and is operated by them with assistance from Victorian University, Wellington (VUW) Law Faculty. AustLII provides its technical infrastructure until NZLII obtains the necessary resources for independent operation. The 18 databases on NZLII cover almost all significant New Zealand Courts and Tribunals, bilateral treaties, law reform reports, and four law journals. Until 2008 it has not been possible to obtain NZ legislation for free access publication, and a legislation database is about to be released. NZLII also shares and maintains the NZ part of the WorldLII Catalog.

 

·         Buckingham D ‘What’s in a Name?: New Zealand and the growth of free on-line legal information’ [2005] CompLRes 2; 7th Law via Internet Conference, Vila, Vanuatu

 

Pacific Islands Legal Information Institute (PacLII)

The Pacific Islands Legal Information Institute (PacLII) is operated by the University of the South Pacific (USP) School of Law, located in Vanuatu. PacLII was developed from substantial content initially collected by USP School of Law ‘Internet Law Reporting Project’ and provided via its site from 1997, then redeveloped with AustLII and launched as PacLII in 2001. It uses AustLII’s Sino search engine and other software. A mirror site is maintained by AustLII in Sydney, due to slow access speeds to Vanuatu. PacLII provides databases of the laws of twenty island countries and territories of the Pacific (American Samoa; Cook Islands; Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands; Federated States of Micronesia; Fiji Islands; Guam; Kiribati; Marshall Islands; Nauru; Niue; Palau; Papua New Guinea; Pitcairn Island; Samoa; Solomon Islands; Tokelau; Tonga; Tuvalu; and Vanuatu). As well as being the principal source of case law and legislation for many of these countries, PacLII also includes databases of Pacific Island Treaties and law journals (Journal of South Pacific Law; Melanesian Law Journal), and links to other Pacific Island legal resources. PacLII is the most substantial free access to law facility in developing countries, and was the earliest regional system. A distinguishing feature of PacLII since inception has been its priority on digitising legislation and cases from paper sources, due to the lack of digital sources. Since 2000 PacLII has received grants from New Zealand’s overseas funding agency (NZODA), and from AusAID. PacLII is regarded as indispensable by judges in the Pacific region, particularly for how it allows them to find precedents from jurisdictions similar to their own.

 

·         Hamilton L ‘A presentation on PacLII’ (PPTs) 8th Law via Internet Conference, Montreal, 2007

·         Blake R ‘Islands in Time: The Pacific Islands Legal Information Institute (PACLII)Proc. 4th Law via Internet Conference, Montreal, 2002

·         Hoping R and Hulama J ‘Publishing of Laws in Papua New Guinea’ [2005] CompLRes 6; Proc. 6th Law via Internet Conference, Vila, Vanuatu, 2005

 

Southern African Legal Information Institute (SAFLII)

The Southern African Legal Information Institute (SAFLII) publishes legal materials from Southern and Eastern Africa. It provides 46 databases of superior court judgments from 13 counties (Botswana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe), and for one regional court (with others under development). Its publication of case law is endorsed by the Southern African Judges Commission, and is being expanded to cover all 16 English-speaking and Portuguese-speaking countries in Southern and Eastern Africa. It intends to have broader coverage than case law, and is currently preparing databases of Lesotho and Zambia judgments, Uganda legislation, and updating South African Law Reform Commission publications. It provides an RSS feed of judgments. Like AustLII and LexUM, SAFLII aims to encourage development of local LIIs in countries in which it works, SAFLII is operated by the South African Constitutional Court Trust. It was originally created in 2003 by the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) Faculty of Law (which had pioneered the Internet provision of South African law during the 1990s) and AustLII. In 2006 its operations were transferred to the Constitutional Court Trust. AustLII assisted the new SAFLII to establish its technical platform, and SAFLII uses AustLII’s Sino search engine and other tools. It is involved in open standards developments such as the AKOMA NTOSO XML schema for Judgments. SAFLII is funded by the Open Society Foundation for South Africa, Open Society Foundation, Ford Foundation and Carnegie Foundation. The Venice Commission sponsored a project for the digitizing of approximately 3000 judgments. Like PacLII, SAFLII has had to tackle digitization from paper from inception. SAFLII is already a landmark in the transparency of Africa’s legal systems.

 

·         Anderson K ‘The Southern African Legal Information Institute (SAFLII) - Achievements & Challenges [PPT] 8th Law via Internet Conference, Montreal, 2007

·         Anderson K ‘Balancing Privacy Rights with Accessibility’ [PDF] 8th Law via Internet Conference, Montreal, 2007

·         Badeva-Bright M ‘Challenges to Building a Legal Information Network in Africa’ [PPT] 8th Law via Internet Conference, Montreal, 2007

·         Badeva-Bright M ‘Common Open Standards for Precedents’ Akomantoso Conference, Nigeria, 2007

·         Jacobson P ‘Wealth of legal information available on the Web now, for freeJacobson Attorneys blog, December 2006

·         Montgomery J ‘Free access to primary legal documents in Southern Africa’ 15(1) Organisation of SA Law Libraries (OSALL) Newsletter, Nov 2004 (available via OSALL Archive)

 

World Legal Information Institute (WorldLII)

The World Legal Information Institute (WorldLII) was developed by AustLII from 2001 and launched in 2002. The Free Access to Law Movement adopted it as their joint portal when formed in 2002. It has three main aspects: as a portal making multiple LIIs simultaneously searchable; its own databases; and its catalog and websearch.  WorldLII’s networking of multiple LIIs makes it the largest free access legal research facility on the Internet because it makes simultaneously searchable the content provided by the other LIIs, comprising nearly 900 databases from 123 countries in all continents. These include some daabases from almost all common law and Asian jurisdictions, and (normally) francophone civil law jurisdictions. At present CanLII and Droit Francophone are not searchable via WorldLII due to technical problems. Databases from some FALM members (CyLaw, Law Web Saarbrücken, and ITTGG) are not yet searchable via WorldLII. WorldLII’s own databases are primarily 22 databases of decisions in the International Courts and Tribunals Library, the largest such collection, and some databases in the Privacy Law Library. WorldLII provides a primarily English language interface to the network of LIIs, but with some content in other languages. Funding for WorldLII’s development to 2007 came primarily from the Australian Research Council (ARC). 

 

The WorldLII Catalog is probably the largest law-specific catalog on the Internet, with links to over 15,000 law-related websites concerning every country, most international institutions, and a subject index. It is one of the few global law catalogs still being maintained (though minimally at present) in the face of the popularity of search engines. It is biased toward English-language content. The websearch facility uses AustLII’s web spider to make searchable the full texts of as many sites as possible in the Catalog. It has been developed since 1997, originally as the Asian Development Bank’s ‘Project DIAL’. The relevant parts of the Catalog are also incorporated into SAFLII, NZLII, AustLII, CommonLII and AsianLII. Since 2007 every country’s ‘home page’ in WorldLII, AsianLII and CommonLII contains (i) the databases provided by any LIIs for that country; (ii) the Catalog entries for that country and websearch facility limited to them; and (iii) a ‘Law on Google’ search which translates the user’s LII search into a Google search, limits its scope to that country, and to law-related content (see User Guide to WorldLII).

 

·         Greenleaf G, Chung P and Mowbray A ‘Emerging Global Networks for Free Access to Law: WorldLII’s Strategies 2002-2005’ (2007) 4:4 SCRIPT-ed 319

·         Greenleaf G, Chung P and Mowbray A 'Responding to the fragmentation of international law - WorldLII's International Courts & Tribunals Project'   Canadian Law Library Review,  2005, Vol. 30 (1), 13- 21; presented at 6th Law via Internet Conference, Paris 2004.

·         Greenleaf G, Austin D, Chung P, Mowbray A, Matthews J and Davis M Solving the Problems of Finding Law on the Web: World Law and DIAL', 2000 (1) The Journal of Information, Law and Technology  (JILT)

·         Greenleaf G Developing the Internet for Asian Law- Project DIAL (A feasibility study and prototype) Report to the Asian Development Bank, 1998, 156 pgs

·         Bruce, T ‘WORLDLII: A sketch for a distributed search system’, Cornell Law School, 2000

 

Zambian Legal Information Institute (ZamLII)

The Zambian Legal Information Institute (ZamLII) was established by the Law School of the University of Zambia in 1996 with assistance from the LII (Cornell), and is therefore one of the oldest LIIs. It has databases of court decisions (including the Supreme Court, High Court, Industrial Relations Court, Land Tribunal and Revenue Tribunal), plus legislation and some journal articles and abstracts. The ZamLII databases can also be searched on CommonLII, with users returned to the ZamLII databases. [At the time of writing, access was not available to ZamLII’s servers.] SAFLII is having discussion with ZamLII concerning cooperation.

 

·         Martin, PW ‘Digital Technology, Access to Legal Information, and Dispute Resolution - Viewed from a Developing Country’, 1996, NCAIR Conference, May 22, 1996

 

Acknowledgments: This article represents the views of the author and not those of any organization including AustLII and the Free Access to Law Movement. Helpful comments have been received from Andrew Mowbray, Pierre-Paul Lemyre, Joe Ury, Kerry Anderson, Kevin Pun, and Martin Backes, but responsibility for content remains with the author.



[i] The availability of resources described in this paper is as at January 2008.