What a year it has been! The team at JADE and Little William Bourke (the publisher of the Victorian Reports) have welcomed new friends, said goodbye to old ones; collectively flown tens of thousands of kilometres to teach, learn and explore new opportunities; and continued on our mission as leading digital disruptors in the legal information and research space.
We’ve travelled the country far and wide this year, delivering training sessions to our faithful subscribers and wooing new ones with the power of JADE and the technological advances in law reporting. Once again, we were overwhelmed with feedback from our users about how JADE Professional helps them work faster, better and smarter.
Here are some highlights of the year that has been 2017 …
Under the BarNet banner, we were very privileged to work with the Council of Law Reporting of New South Wales to build their online portal for the New South Wales Law Reports. In the same mould as the Victorian Reports, our aim was to develop a portal that allows the democratic access to all of the reported cases of the New South Wales Supreme Court in a flexible and cost-effective manner.
Launched in June this year by his Honour Chief Justice Bathurst, the NSWLR portal has been well received, not only in its home state but interstate and internationally.
The Chief Justice welcomed the introduction of the online portal, which gives users access to the State Reports dating back to 1900 and all New South Wales Law Reports, as having “the important role of bringing forgotten judgements back into the light”. (The Hon T F Bathurst AC, Chief Justice of New South Wales, ‘Launch of the Electronic State Reports (New South Wales)’. (Speech delivered at the launch of the NSW Law Reports, Ceremonial Court, Supreme Court of New South Wales, 28 June 2017.)
We are offering a complimentary copy of Whiteley on Trialby Gabriella Coslovich to new and renewing annual JADE Professional subscribers. To take advantage of this offer, simply visit https://jade.io/WOT by 24 December.
“This gripping book by arts journalist Gabriella Coslovich has more twists and turns than an episode of Poirot … Whiteley on Trial is a gripping art-world thriller set in this heady milieu, meticulously told and intriguing for all sorts of reasons. The case and the book have certainly shaken up the art world.” —PHIL BROWN, COURIER MAIL
While section 44 of the Constitution has been around … well, since the enactment of the Constitution, it seems that it was only this year that some of our parliamentarians looked to their lineage and, shock horror, discovered that they may not have done the necessary due diligence before signing their nomination forms for their election to the Senate and House of Representatives.
“ … Your attention is drawn in particular to section 44 of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia … Candidates who have any doubts about their eligibility, by virtue of section 44 of the Constitution, are advised to obtain their own legal advice … ”
One by one we saw our politicians falling foul of the rule of section 44.
Malcolm Roberts, now former Australian Senator, had cause to question his citizenship and sought to satisfy himself of same via email query, the subject line of which read “My inquiry is this: Am I still a British citizen?” (Re Roberts  HCA 39, .)
The whole sorry saga had us thinking about how JADE Professional might help our future parliamentarians (or those who have to renominate after they sort out their dual citizenship woes) with those pesky forms …
Step 1: Look at section 44 of the Constitution! What would this tell you? The rules by which you must abide when nominating for a position in federal Parliament, of course!
Step 2: click on the Jadeclip … that innocuous little green clip on the right-hand side of the page … and unlock the power of JADE Professional! Find the latest case which considers section 44 of the Constitution and jump straight to the citations of that section in those cases. Set an alert to be notified of any cases decided on this particular section between now and the election.
Step 3: use our Citator tool to see how words and phrases like “eligibility”, “dual citizen”, “foreign citizenship” and “disqualified” have been used in judicial reasoning in the context of section 44.
Step 4: read those cases, analyse the judicial consideration of section 44 and call your mum just to check where she was born and confirm that she renounced her foreign citizenship before you sign that declaration!
“Constitutional crisis” averted! Easy (with the power of JADE)!
PS – we almost “broke the internet” on 27 October when the High Court handed down in its decision in Re Canavan  HCA 45. The first legal publisher in Australia to publish the decision online, users are able to quickly see and navigate their way through the litigation history, cases and legislation cited by this decision and subsequent cases which cite it with just a few easy clicks.
Our developers have been busy further refining the functionality of the Victorian Reports portal (www.victorianreports.com.au) to make it easier for VR subscribers to work with content from within JADE.
VR subscribers can jump straight to the authorised report of a decision with one click. Without a subscription, users are able to view the catchwords of the decision and an excerpt of the headnote and make a once-off purchase a copy of the authorised report in digital format or subscribe to the Victorian Reports online or in print, or both!
Launch of inaugural Summer CPD Series presented by Little William Bourke
We launched our Little William Bourke inaugural Summer CPD Series – a great event chaired by the editor of Victorian Reports, Mr Peter Willis SC with an esteemed panel comprising of Mr Charles Gunst QC; Mr David Levin QC; Mr David Klempfer; and Ms Katie Stynes. The event was kindly hosted by VicBar and held at Owen Dixon Chambers in the Neil McPhee Room. The session involved an informative lunchtime discussion of cases reported in Victorian Reports as they relate to solicitors’ duties and overarching obligations owed to clients by those members of the Bar involved in the reported cases.
Alerts – Cases to be Reported
In 2018, we will introduce alerts to notify VR subscribers of cases selected to be reported in forthcoming volumes of the Reports to assist practitioners identifying those cases which impact on the application of the law in advance of publication of the authorised report.
We continue to publish the Victorian Reports in print and online, offering democratic access to all with flexible pricing models. Little William Bourke, the sister organisation of JADE and publisher of the Victorian Reports, believes that practitioners and the public alike should have affordable access not only to the decisions published by the Court, but also the informative insights of practitioners who dedicate their time to reporting decisions of legal and practical significance to the development of Victorian and Australian law.
Alerts, JADE clips, visualisation tools and document uploading continue to be popular tools with our users, helping to improve their efficiency and maintain current awareness.
2018 will see JADE evolving, with exciting changes allowing users to create a bespoke subscription tailored to practice needs. We are also introducing a new and innovative way to research legislation, as well as continuing to expand our coverage.
Like any business, the expansion of our service offering will see changes to our pricing. These changes will allow us to offer our users more flexibility and reinvest in the business so we can continue to offer new and unique functionality in the legal research space.
While our pricing will change with modest increases to monthly and annual subscriptions, we will grandfather our existing subscribers for a period of 6 months from their 2018 renewal date with the opportunity to fully explore our new subscription tiers.
(*Actually, it was Mark Twain – Gary Scharnhorst (Ed), Mark Twain: The Complete Interviews (University of Alabama Press, 2006)).
The way in which we consume information and literature has evolved significantly over the last 10 years. For publishers of printed material, this change in consumption has necessitated a move to digital publishing, with a strong demand for content to be made available across a multitude of devices, and accessible 24/7 from any location.
The impact of the “digital age” on our consumption of information and literature has been particularly noticeable in the area of legal research and information. The timely and accurate dissemination, and management of general information as to society, politics and human behaviour; and more specific legal information such as decisions of courts, legislation and regulations etc, is essential to the proper function of our legal system.
The digitisation of legal information has come about in response to the needs of the profession, driven by the use of new technologies. Word processing software, the internet, email, smart phones, online court registries and e-litigation have all changed the way in which lawyers and law makers go about their daily business.
Publishers of legal information have had to respond to the demand for material to be available through digital channels, while continuing to fulfil demand, albeit diminishing, for their print publications. In an effort to develop viable business models and maintain profit margins, local editorial and print production facilities were moved off-shore; and pricing structures were changed.
Printed material is now likely to be bundled with (often unrelated) electronic subscriptions, thereby diluting the value of print and inferring that products such as bound case volumes and cumulative indices are a luxury, over-priced and unnecessary. However, one might be so bold to posit that notwithstanding the use of new technology, many within the profession still cherish the tactility and utility of paper, and resort to printing material accessed via digital platforms. Tell us … is this you?
Author Mark Kurlansky, in his 2016 work “Paper: Paging Through History”, argues that technology does not shape society; society shapes technology:
“Chroniclers of the role of paper in history are given to extravagant pronouncements: Architecture would not have been possible without paper. Without paper, there would have been no Renaissance. If there had been no paper, the Industrial Revolution would not have been possible. None of these statements is true. These developments came about because society had come to a point where they were needed. This is true of all technology, but in the case of paper, it is particularly clear.”
While the practice and administration of the law is at the mercy of constantly evolving technologies, the accurate recording and robust preservation of legal information is paramount to the rule of law and access to justice. As such, it is the lawyers and law makers, and not profit margins or business models, that should shape the technology of legal research and information.
We respectfully submit, therefore, that any report of the death of the printed word (at least in the context of legal research and information) is an exaggeration.