Legal information institutes what do they offer the saarc region and regional trade
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Legal Information Institutes: What do they offer the SAARC region and regional trade?. Graham Greenleaf, Professor of Law, University of New South Wales, and Co-Director, AustLII International Development Law Organisation (IDLO) South Asia Trade Seminar, Sydney, May 2008.

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Legal Information Institutes: What do they offer the SAARC region and regional trade?

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Legal Information Institutes: What do they offer the SAARC region and regional trade?

Graham Greenleaf, Professor of Law, University of New South Wales, and Co-Director, AustLII

International Development Law Organisation (IDLO)South Asia Trade Seminar, Sydney, May 2008

Outline of presentation

  • Legal Information Institutes (LIIs) and global free access to law

  • Free access to law in the SAARC region

  • Demonstration: Searching LIIs for SAARC regional law

  • Possible future developments

What is a Legal Information Institute (LII)?

  • Legal Information Institutes (LIIs)

    • Provides free and non-profit online access

    • Publishes multi-sourced legal resources

      • Collections, not just its own cases or legislation

    • Usually independent of governments - sometimes collaboration

    • May be national, regional, language-based, or global

  • The Free Access to Law Movement

    • A global association of LIIs from all continents

    • Shares a Declaration of principles

    • A commitment to global collaboration

The LIIs of the Asia-Pacific

The global structure of LIIs

Who operates LIIs?

  • Universities, as public service

    • LII (Cornell) PacLII, HKLII, AustLII, NZLII, LawPhil

    • AsianLII, Droit Francophone, CommonLII, WorldLII, jointly for LIIs

  • A non-profit Trust / Foundation (NGOs)

    • BAILII (BAILII Trust members are from Courts, Universities, Legal Profession)

    • SAFLII (South African Constitutional Court Trust members are from Courts, Universities etc; mandate to publish decisions from Chief Justices of Southern and Eastern African countries)

    • Kenya Law Reports (non-profit government-owned publisher)

  • The Legal Profession, as professional & public services

    • CanLII (Law Societies of Canada with a University)

    • Juri Burkina; CyLaw

Australasian Legal Information Institute

  • AustLII’s Australian operations

    • In operation 12 years since 1995

    • Free-access, non-profit service by 2 Australian Law Faculties (UTS & UNSW)

    • 252 databases of Australian law

    • 650,000 accesses per day; more than all commercial services

    • AustLII developed its own search engine and mark-up software

  • AustLII’s international role

    • Leading member of the Free Access to Law Movement

    • Since 2000, AustLII has used its software and expertise to assist the development of free access to law in other countries: BAILII (UK), PacLII (Pacific Islands), HKLII (HK), NZLII (New Zealand) etc

    • CommonLII and AsianLII are the most recent example of AustLII’s mission to develop free access to law internationally

Commonwealth Legal Information Institute

  • CommonLII gives new meaning to ‘common law’

    • No longer a ‘one way street’ from the UK

  • 571 databases from 59 Commonwealth countries/territories

    • Most are on existing LIIs, CommonLII is a network

  • Supported by Commonwealth Law Ministers

    • And by most other Commonwealth-wide legal bodies

  • English as the language of the common law

  • Databases are shared with AsianLII & WorldLII

Asian Legal Information Institute

  • AsianLII - the first Asia-wide law portal

  • Launched in December 2006

  • 189 databases from all 28 Asian countries

    • Key legislation in English from almost all countries

    • Over 200,000 cases in full text

    • Also law reform and law journals

  • Over 50,000 page accesses per day

  • Increasing databases in non-English languages

  • Increasingly a network of LIIs as new LIIs form

    • HKLII, PacLII (PNG), soon LawPhil, Thai Law

  • Support from many key regional institutions

Free access to SAARC region law - Largest providers

  • India - Courts Informatics Div., National Informatics Centre

    • India Code & Indian Courts (SC, 18 HCs, 12 DCs and 9 Tribunals)

    • Strength is broad coverage and up-to-date

    • But need to search 20+ different databases separately

    • Inflexible search engine

  • LawNet SriLanka

    • With World Bank aid, one of the best integrated systems in the developing world

  • Smaller systems in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Butan

  • Problems:

    • No region-wide capacity to search for law from SAARC countries

    • Lost opportunities for trade, investment and law reform research

Demonstration: SAARC law on AsianLII

  • SAARC pages on AsianLII

    • South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation

    • Allows free comparative law research

  • Example: search for laws concerning arbitration

    • Search databases of all 8 countries + SAARC

      • Searches legislation + all cases etc together

      • Relevance ranking (most important items first)

      • Displays by database, or most recent cases

    • Search other websites (Websearch)

    • Search for what Google can find

    • View catalog of SAARC country websites

  • Can display results jointly or from 1 country

  • This is a prototype for a SAARC LII

Future LII developmentsin the SAARC region

  • A SAARC legal information institute?

    • Based in the region, using LII software etc

    • Partner institutions in all SAARC countries

    • To assist capacity building in free access resources across the SAARC region

    • Integrated with AsianLII, CommonLII & WorldLII

  • Separate legal information institutes for individual countries?

    • Sri Lanka has one, one is planned for India

    • A complementary way of publishing the LawNet etc data

    • Integrated with SAARC portal, and other LIIs


  • Funding sources for AsianLII & CommonLII

    • AusAID (Australian Dept. Foreign Affairs & Trade)

    • Australian Attorney-General’s Department

    • Australian Research Council

  • Development of AustLII’s SAARC resources

    • Prof. Andrew Mowbray, SINO search engine

    • Philip Chung, Executive Director

    • Kieran Hackshall, development of databases

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