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BAILII

Database resources containing links to case law, primary and secondary legislation, law reform reports and European case law.

The website of the British and Irish Legal Information Institute (BAILII) contains links to case law, primary and secondary legislation, law reform reports and European case law [Tajti, 2019. p11; Greenleaf, 2010; BAILII]. The majority of the databases contain recent material, but the coverage also includes both old and new content [BAILII].

https://www.bailii.org/

In 2002, John Zelenzikow wrote that BAILII provided the ‘most comprehensive set of British and Irish primary legal materials that are available for free and in one place on the internet’ [Zeleznikow, 2002. p18].

This still holds true with BAILII now hosting over 100 databases on its site [BAILII; Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, 2019]. Further, judgments available on the UK Parliament website only contain House of Lords judgments, for any other caselaw the site states to look at BAILII [UK Government; Mitee, 2017. p7] However, the extent to which the general public have knowledge of this legal tool is less certain. A study of 3,274 users in 2012 found that 6% of users were self-represented litigants and members of the general public [Leith and Fellows, 2013]. Nonetheless, this is a powerful tool for these users and gives them at least an opportunity to try and level the playing field against opposing lawyers by providing free access to a massive amount of legal information.

The fundamental draw to BAILII is the fact it is a free to use interface. Further, information can be accessed quickly through searches without a login process [Leith and Fellows, 2013]. This openness and ease of access has led the tool to have a large user base with 97,392 users a week as of February 2020 and 11.5 million total site visits in 2018 [BAILII, 2020; BAILII, 2019].

A key issue and constraint faced by BAILII is funding, it is free to use but not free to build and maintain [Greenleaf, 2010]. BAILII relies largely on donations but also is partly funded by the Ministry of Justice. Despite this restraint, in 2018 BAILII operated on a budget of £161,000 managing to add 38,975 judgments. [BAILII, 2019].

References

  1. BAILII, ‘BAILII Statistics’ (2020) https://www.bailii.org/bailii/stats.html (Date Accessed: 10/05/2020)
  2. BAILII, ‘databases.html’ https://www.bailii.org/databases.html (Date Accessed: 10/05/2020)
  3. BAILII, ‘BAILII Update’ (2019) https://www.bailii.org/bailii/BAILII%20Update%20July%202019.pdf (Date Accessed: 10/05/2020)
  4. Greenleaf, G, ‘The Global development of free access to legal information’ (2010) European Journal of Law and Technology 1.1
  5. Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, ‘BAILII’ (2019) https://ials.sas.ac.uk/digital/bailii (Date Accessed: 10/05/2020)
  6. Leith, P,  and Fellows, C, ‘BAILII, Legal Education and Open Access to Law’ (2013) European Journal of Law and Technology 4.1 http://ejlt.org/article/view/209/289 (Date Accessed: 10/05/2020)
  7. Mitee, L. E, ‘Towards enhanced public access to legal information: a proposal for official networked one-stop legal information websites’ (2017) European Journal of Law and Technology 8.3.
  8. Tajti, Tibor, ‘The impact of technology on access to law and the concomitant repercussions: past, present, and the future’ (from the 1980s to present time) [2019] Uniform Law Review 24.2
  9. UK Government, ‘Judgments’ www.parliament.uk/about/how/business/judgments/ (Date Accessed: 10/05/2020)
  10. Zeleznikow, John, ‘Using Web-based Legal Decision Support Systems to Improve Access to Justice’ (2002) Information & Communications Technology Law 11.1

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