Transcript of ‘Free the Law - How the Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII) Achieved the Free Availability of Legal Information on the Internet’ Keynote Presentation, Chatham House, London, 8 Nov. 1999
Journal of Information Law & Technology (JILT) 2000 (1)
12 Pages Posted: 6 Sep 2013
Date Written: November 8, 1999
This is a transcript (supplied by Smith Bernal) of an evening meeting (8 Nov 1999) at Chatham House, London, entitled ‘Free the Law’ arranged by the Society for Computers and Law (SCL), Information Technology and the Courts Committee (ITAC), British and Irish Legal Education Technology Association (BILETA), British and Irish Association of Law Librarians (BIALL), and Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (IALS), in conjunction with Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII). The purpose of the meeting was to consider whether the United Kingdom and Ireland should start a free access to law system similar to what AustLII had established in Australia.
This keynote presentation explained how AustLII was established in 1995, and how it had achieved in five years a substantial amount of free access to legal information in Australia, illustrated with examples from the AustLII system. [Note: Many of the links no longer work, as they are to a de-commissioned server.] The paper concluded with ‘a foreign lawyer's wish list for access to UK and Irish law’, suggesting reasons why development of a similar initiative in the UK and Ireland was not merely wishful thinking. The number of jurisdictions (Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, UK, Republic of Ireland) was not an impediment, as shown by AustLII covering ten jurisdictions, and ‘they help you surround the bad examples with good examples.’
Postscript: Following the ‘Free the Law’ meeting, significant funds were raised immediately to start a similar initiative to AustLII, and in less than a year the British and Irish Legal Information Institute (BAILII) was established.
Keywords: legal information system, free access to law, AustLII, Australia, BAILII, United Kingdom
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