Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=2111056
 
 

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Digitising and Searching Australasian Colonial Legal History


Graham Greenleaf


University of New South Wales, Faculty of Law

Philip Chung


University of New South Wales (UNSW) - Faculty of Law

Andrew Mowbray


University of Technology Sydney, Faculty of Law

Brent Salter


University of New South Wales (UNSW) - Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII); University of Technology Sydney (UTS); Macquarie University; University of New South Wales (UNSW)

July 13, 2012

UNSW Law Research Paper No. 2012-23

Abstract:     
Australasia has a rich and complex legal history since the first European settlement, and our knowledge of legal practice and precedent in the colonies of Australasia is still developing. The Australasian Colonial Legal History Library project is an ARC-funded project being carried out by the Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII) since January 2012 with input from 18 legal historians from Universities across Australia. Cooperation with other parties who have already built invaluable and pioneering online resources for Australasian colonial law is an essential part of the project.

AustLII is a free access online service which has operated since 1995 as a joint facility provided by UNSW and UTS Law Faculties , and now provides over 500 databases, with usage of over 700,000 page accesses per day. The Colonial Legal History Library project is therefore being built within a large and mature research infrastructure, and this presents challenges as well as advantages. In particular, many of the AustLII databases cover the whole period from the formation of a colony to the present, so the databases for this Library have to be ‘virtual’ databases extracted from this larger corpus.

The paper explains the construction, content and features of the first version of the Library, which as of July 2012 contains 12 databases including one case law database from each of the seven colonies (including New Zealand), some of which are ‘recovered’ cases from newspaper reports, the complete annual legislation to 1900 from three of the colonies, plus legal scholarship concerning the colonial era. These databases provide over 20,000 documents so far, and the Victorian Government Gazette 1851-1900 another 200,000. The Library also includes the LawCite citator, which allows the subsequent citation history of any colonial case to be tracked, including if cited by courts outside Australasia.

The medium term aim of this part of the ARC project (which extends to 1950 in its full scope) is to include all legislation, reported cases, and cases which can be ‘recovered’, from the inception of each colony to 1900. Scholarship (old and new) and key source materials are also being added, as budgets permit. We hope that the Library will be a leader in the creation of legal history resources from the colonial era.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 23

Keywords: Australia, New Zealand, colonial, history, legal information system, search engine

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Date posted: July 18, 2012  

Suggested Citation

Greenleaf, Graham and Chung, Philip and Mowbray, Andrew and Salter, Brent, Digitising and Searching Australasian Colonial Legal History (July 13, 2012). UNSW Law Research Paper No. 2012-23. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2111056

Contact Information

Graham Greenleaf (Contact Author)
University of New South Wales, Faculty of Law ( email )
Sydney, New South Wales 2052
Australia
+61 2 9385 2233 (Phone)
+61 2 9385 1175 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://www2.austlii.edu.au/~graham

Philip Chung
University of New South Wales (UNSW) - Faculty of Law ( email )
Kensington, New South Wales 2052
Australia

Andrew Mowbray
University of Technology Sydney, Faculty of Law ( email )
Sydney
Australia

Brent Salter
University of New South Wales (UNSW) - Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII) ( email )
Australia
University of Technology Sydney (UTS) ( email )
Sydney, New South Wales 2000
Australia
Macquarie University ( email )
North Ryde
Sydney, New South Wales 2109
Australia
University of New South Wales (UNSW) ( email )
Sydney, NSW 2052
Australia
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