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].
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].
- BAILII, ‘BAILII Statistics’ (2020) https://www.bailii.org/bailii/stats.html (Date Accessed: 10/05/2020)
- BAILII, ‘databases.html’ https://www.bailii.org/databases.html (Date Accessed: 10/05/2020)
- BAILII, ‘BAILII Update’ (2019) https://www.bailii.org/bailii/BAILII%20Update%20July%202019.pdf (Date Accessed: 10/05/2020)
- Greenleaf, G, ‘The Global development of free access to legal information’ (2010) European Journal of Law and Technology 1.1
- Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, ‘BAILII’ (2019) https://ials.sas.ac.uk/digital/bailii (Date Accessed: 10/05/2020)
- 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)
- 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.
- 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)  Uniform Law Review 24.2
- UK Government, ‘Judgments’ www.parliament.uk/about/how/business/judgments/ (Date Accessed: 10/05/2020)
- Zeleznikow, John, ‘Using Web-based Legal Decision Support Systems to Improve Access to Justice’ (2002) Information & Communications Technology Law 11.1