Definitions

conducive to

Free Access to Law Movement

The Free Access to Law Movement is the umbrella name for the collective of legal projects across several common law countries to provide free online access to legal information such as case law and legislation. The movement began in 1992 with the creation of the Cornell Law School by Tom Bruce and Peter Martin. The name Legal Information Institute has been widely adopted by other projects. It is usually prefixed by a country or region identifier.

Declaration on Free Access to Law

In October 2002 the meeting of LIIs in Montreal at the 4th Law via Internet Conference, made the following declaration as a joint statement of their philosophy of access to law. There were some further modifications of the Declaration at the Sydney meeting of LIIs in 2003 and at the Paris meeting in 2004.

Legal information institutes of the world, meeting in Montreal, declare that:

  • Public legal information from all countries and international institutions is part of the common heritage of humanity. Maximising access to this information promotes justice and the rule of law;
  • Public legal information is digital common property and should be accessible to all on a non-profit basis and free of charge;
  • Independent non-profit organisations have the right to publish public legal information and the government bodies that create or control that information should provide access to it so that it can be published.

Public legal information means legal information produced by public bodies that have a duty to produce law and make it public. It includes primary sources of law, such as legislation, case law and treaties, as well as various secondary (interpretative) public sources, such as reports on preparatory work and law reform, and resulting from boards of inquiry. It also includes legal documents created as a result of public funding.

A legal information institute:

  • Publishes via the internet public legal information originating from more than one public body;
  • Provides free, full and anonymous public access to that information;
  • Does not impede others from publishing public legal information; and
  • Supports the objectives set out in this Declaration.

All legal information institutes are encouraged to participate in regional or global free access to law networks.

Therefore, the legal information institutes agree:

  • To promote and support free access to public legal information throughout the world, principally via the Internet;
  • 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;
  • To help each other and to support, within their means, other organisations that share these goals with respect to:
    • Promotion, to governments and other organisations, of public policy conducive to the accessibility of public legal information;
    • Technical assistance, advice and training;
    • Development of open technical standards;
    • Academic exchange of research results.
  • To meet at least annually, and to invite other organisations who are legal information institutes to subscribe to this declaration and join those meetings, according to procedures to be established by the parties to this Declaration.
  • To provide to the end users of public legal information clear information concerning any conditions of re-use of that information, where this is feasible.

Made at the 4th Law via the Internet Conference in Montreal on 3 October 2002 by representatives of the following legal information institutes:

  *  Australasian Legal Information Institute
  *  British and Irish Legal Information Institute
  *  LexUM/ Canadian Legal Information Institute
  *  Hong Kong Legal Information Institute
  *  Legal Information Institute (Cornell)
  *  Pacific Islands Legal Information Institute
  *  University of the West Indies Faculty of Law Library
  *  Wits University School of Law

As amended by the representatives of the following legal information institutes present at the 5th Law via the Internet Conference in Sydney, November 2003:

  *  Australasian Legal Information Institute
  *  British and Irish Legal Information Institute
  *  LexUM/ Canadian Legal Information Institute
  *  Hong Kong Legal Information Institute
  *  Pacific Islands Legal Information Institute
  *  South African Legal Information Institute

WorldLII

The World Legal Information Institute is the umbrella project for all the other LII projects. From the WorldLII website all other databases can be searched.

AustLII

The Australasian Legal Information Institute is the project providing Australian and New Zealand legal information.

BAILII

The British and Irish Legal Information Institute is the project providing legal information on England and Wales, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, United Kingdom, and the European Union.

It was set up after a long and hard campaign by barrister [Laurie West-Knights QC], Lord Saville and Lord Justice Brooke, who were concerned with the lack of availability of court judgments to ordinary court users and were inspired by the Australian LII.

The importance and volume of English case law in particular, coupled with some long-standing copyright hurdles and initial political scepticism made the achievement of BAILII all the more remarkable. It is now a major international resource of unequalled value.

CanLII

The Canadian Legal Information Institute is the project providing legal information on Canada.

HKLII

The Hong Kong Legal Information Institute (HKLII - pronounced 'H K Lee') HKLII's mission is to provide free access to primary legal materials from Hong Kong (and some publicly available secondary material through computer technology. HKLII was developed and is jointly operated by the University of Hong Kong's Department of Computer Science and Faculty of Law, with the assistance of the Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII).

LII (Cornell)

The Legal Information Institute at the Cornell Law School provides free legal information for the United States. It was the original LII project, founded in 1992.

NZLII

The New Zealand Legal Information Institute

PacLII

The Pacific Islands Legal Information Institute provides legal information on numerous Pacific Islands including American Samoa, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji Islands, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Pitcairn Island, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.

SAFLII

The Southern African Legal Information Institute

References

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