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Improving Online Case Law

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Improving online case law

An AustLII research project

Last updated 3 March 2008

The Australian Research Council (ARC) has funded a research project proposed by AustLII’s Co-Directors with seven ‘industry partners’ – four courts and tribunals, two legal publishers, and the leading organisation for judicial administration. AustLII publishes the decisions of hundreds of Australian courts and tribunals. A primary aim of the research will be to investigate how citations to court decisions may be recognised by automated means, so as to recognise to which case a citation refers irrespective of the means of citation. Hypertext links to cases and ‘noteups’ of cases may then be created. Search results may be able to be ranked more effectively by utilising this information (‘contextual ranking’). Other aspects of improving online case law which will be investigated include date-sensitive links from cases to Point-in-Time legislation, and more intelligent use of explicit data in cases. Historical and international extensions of the research results will be exploited including uses in relation to data from other free access ‘legal information institutes’ and application to case reports going back over 800 years of the common law. The application of the research to other domains will also be considered. The project funding includes one PhD scholarship (APA(I) Award), with that researcher working on the difficult problems involved in the citation of the decisions of international courts and tribunals, and generalising the project’s research findings to cover as many overseas courts and tribunals as possible.

Project Summary

Approved Title: Improving online case law within the constraints of free access through heuristic linking and resulting discovery mechanisms

Summary: Better interconnections between cases and between cases and other documents, will improve the work of the judiciary, lawyers and legal researchers. Improved speed, accuracy and comprehensiveness of assessment of the legal implications of previous cases should result in better quality client advice and judicial decisions. The general public and business, for whom AustLII is the principal means of accessing law, will also benefit from better understanding of, and easier access to, the interconnections between the sources of law. Free access via AustLII's increasingly comprehensive coverage of Australian Courts and Tribunals means these innovations will be of immediate broad national benefit.

ARC Linkage grant LP0882861 (2008-10); Chief Investigators Prof AS Mowbray; Prof GW Greenleaf; Mr P Chung; Primary RFCD 3999 ‘Other Law, Justice and Law Enforcement’

Project contributors

ARC contributions: 2008 – $111,430; 2009 – $115,163; 2010 – $150,000

The Partner Organisation contributions listed below are over 3 years, 2008-10. Other financial contributions by Partner Organisations can be found on AustLII’s contributor pages.

Partner Organisation
Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal
High Court of Australia
Federal Court of Australia
Family Court of Australia
Thomson Legal & Regulatory Limited
The Australian Institute of Judicial Administration Incorporated
Justis Publishing Limited


Publications and outcomes

[To be added as the project progresses]


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