It’s a lofty title, and that’s only part of it.
In late 2012 we read with interest that AustLII had been awarded a four year ‘linkage’ project at a total ARC funded value of $150,000 commencing in 2013, with the title:
LP130100382. Re-inventing authority and integrity of primary legal sources for the online world, using free access to make the legal system more efficient and just
It’s a Linkage Grant from the ARC which is significant
As those in the academic world know, Linkage Grants from the Australian Research Council have specific terms. These can be found at the ARC’s website.
To be successful in an application, the proponent (in this case AustLII and the co-researchers) must be able to demonstrate each of the following, namely that:
- collaborative R&D research is being undertaken between collaborators, to acquire new knowledge, and which involve risk or innovation;
- there must be at least one Partner Organisation which must make a contribution in cash and/or in kind to the project;
- the funding or in-kind contribution must must at least match the total funding requested from the ARC;
- the proposed project is to apply advanced knowledge to problems and/or to provide opportunities to obtain national economic, social or cultural benefits;
- the proposed project provides opportunities for researchers to pursue internationally competitive research in collaboration with those Partner Organisations
- the proposed project encourages growth of a national pool of world-class researchers
Who are the Partner Organisations providing the other $150,000
The linkage partners of this project are impressive:
- Courts (High Court of Australia, Family Court of Australia, Supreme Court Library (Vic), and the Federal Magistrates Court (now Federal Circuit Court)
- Parliamentary Counsel (Office of the Queensland Parliamentary Counsel and Office of the Chief Parliamentary Counsel of Victoria
- Government Department (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade)
What are the aims of the research?
Recently, AustLII stated the principal aims of the Linkage Grant to be:
(i) To determine how the advantages of the historical system of authorised reports of case-law can best be: (a) recovered in the radically different environment of ubiquitous Internet availability of all case-law; and (b) reconciled with the advantages of free-access Internet availability. (ii) To determine how courts and tribunals outside the existing system of authorised reports can best ensure that their decisions published via the Internet have authority and integrity, including when republished under appropriate conditions. (iii) To test and validate with one or more of these courts and tribunals the most appropriate means of achieving these aims. (iv) In all of the above, the development of best practices is a combination of policy research and development of standards, and development of the best technical means (digital signatures, watermarks etc.) most suited to the particular requirements of legal authority and the legal environment in which the documents are used.
Notably a part of the original grant statement (which features in the ARC announcement) is omitted from these recently re-stated principal aims:
This project will investigate and develop new best practices (policy, standards, technical) suited to the online environment and modern practices from both national and international perspectives.
Is this research worthy of ARC Funding?
Now that AustLII has released the major work product of this research, the “signed by AustLII” watermark, it is the appropriate time to consider whether the research is worthy of ARC Funding.
For those that may not yet have seen it, the watermark looks like this:
AustLII’s stated problems are not problems which entail risk or involve innovation. The problems are directed towards AustLII’s vision that Free Access to Legal Information is the only kind of access which is desirable. Furthermore, the research is directed towards AustLII endeavouring to prefer its own narrow commercial interests with those of the wider legal publishing ecosystem. The aims of the research do not seek to engage with any legal publishers of Councils of Law Reporting. The so-called ‘standards’ being developed are standards to which only AustLII has access.
AustLII’s ‘solution’ is already in use in other courts around the world and the technology involved is neither new, advanced, nor creating international competition.
Authentication at work
Quite apart from the expenditure of some $300,000 of public funds on a project with no clear benefits to anyone but AustLII, it’s time for a wider discussion about public support for legal publishing and the access to legal information.
Reading the new AustLII signed by AustLII Format. Source: http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3c24503. Photographer: Herman Hiller
Korda v Australian Executor Trustees (SA) Limited  HCA 6 (04 March 2015) (FRENCH CJ, HAYNE, KIEFEL, GAGELER AND KEANE JJ) 3 March 2015. Available in the excellent JADE reading format:
Statutes – Statutory construction. Constitutional law (Cth) – Judicial power.
Words and phrases – “adjudging and punishing criminal guilt”, “administrative enforcement action”, “judicial power”, “used in the commission of an offence”. Australian Communications and Media Authority Act 2005 (Cth), ss 10, 12. Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (Cth), ss 5, 141, 143, 170, 178, 179; Sched 2, cl 8(1)(a), (g).
Available in the Excellent JADE Reading format: BarNet-JADE-2015-HCA-07
You may remember the days of paper. We do. We still have a lot of it and we use it every day. This is one of our research vaults. It’s where the JADE editorial team extracts meaning, sometimes with a pencil, always with love of the law. Yellow pads at the ready.
The JADE Legal Research HQ is the location of our research vault. This enormous facility is built for the future. The vault is more than 2,000 metres long and 300 metres wide. We estimate that it will provide us with sufficient storage for legal primary materials until at least 2050.
(We waited until the lunch break to take this photo.) Usually you would find out editors at the tables ready to pounce like cats upon challenging legal research questions. Robots have no place here. Legal knowledge is too precious to squander on machine learning or algorithms. We are human scale.
JADE Advance … we’re already there … transforming research
It’s been a big week of advance here at the JADE Legal Research HQ. As always, the team has been experimenting with all kinds of new ideas to bring you the best possible legal research experience. In a world where everything old seems new again, we have created the first dedicated 3D surround desktop research desk, the JADE Advance Research Sphere (JARS). Created with the most demanding and stylish users in mind, the JARS will be the centrepiece of any knowledge centre and can double as a conference table in chambers.
As you can see in the photo, legal research in JADE with this advanced unit is amazing. Put on the 3D-glasses and organise your universe of legal research on our tactile research desk. Start small. Work big.
There are strengths and weaknesses of legal citators. One strength is that a citator can provide a researcher with pin-point updates when a later decision has made reference to a particular passage within an earlier legal decision. JADE’s CaseTrace provides that pin-point accuracy as well as general references made by later decisions. The references turbo-charge your research efficiency. One potential risk of using a citator is that unless it is kept up-to-date, the absence of a reference might suggest that a decision has not been considered at all. We call this citator currency.
The risk of missing a later decision by relying on an out-of-date citator is why many of us learn to undertake a search on the decision as well. If a decision of the High Court of Australia or an intermediate appellate court casts doubt on a legal proposition, the astute legal researcher needs to know about this immediately.
When we have been teaching students how to do legal research, we have regularly compared CaseTrace with other systems. One of these is AustLII’s LawCite. LawCite has many more citations in it. At the time of writing (14 February 2015), there are 4,638,414 citations in LawCite and 1,149,123 citations in JADE. It is not possible to know how many of the Citations in LawCite are references to secondary materials.
Citator Currency in Jade’s CaseTrace and AustLII’s LawCite
JADE CaseTrace. All CaseTrace references in the JADE legal research platform update instantly, as soon as JADE has parsed the most recent decision referring to a judgment or statutory reference. The paper clips on the right hand side of the JADE page are instantly updated. Searching also works immediately.
AustLII’s Law Cite. The story is quite different with AustLII’s LawCite. Since we started monitoring the published update frequency within LawCite in August 2014, we noticed the following:
|Our Review Date||When LawCite was updated||Last update||Period between updates||Cases and Articles in LawCite|
|26-Aug-14||25-Aug-14||1 day||49 days||4,550,035|
|27-Aug-14||26-Aug-14||1 day||1 day||4,563,832|
|04-Nov-14||26-Sep-14||39 days||31 days||4,577,280|
|10-Dec-14||02-Dec-14||8 days||67 days||4,613,759|
|28-Jan-15||12-Dec-14||47 days||10 days||4,616,118|
|14-Feb-15||10-Feb-15||4 days||60 days||4,638,414|
Litigation history is now part of JADE
In the past two months, our editorial team has been matching decisions in JADE from first instance to special leave and beyond. Litigation history in JADE lets you locate the every decision in the litigation record. If it has been published, JADE will attempt to discover and link it, across jurisdictions and across every level.
It is best demonstrated with an example. Let’s use Cantarella Bros Pty Limited v Modena Trading Pty Limited  HCA 48. Using JADE’s excellent API, we can reference the case as:
- https://jade.barnet.com.au/mnc/2014/HCA/48 or
- https://jade.barnet.com.au/au/cases/cth/HCA/2014/48.html or
Start with CaseTrace
JADE CaseTrace contains the most recent preceding and (where applicable) subsequent litigation history. To see more detail click on the bottom right hand side of the Case Trace box. The equivalent full court decision appears on the right hand side:
Litigation History is part of CaseTrace
The page jumps to the bottom of the judgment. You will see the decision chronology. In the case of applications for special leave which have been granted, you will even be able to see when special leave was granted and when the High Court of Australia heard argument and reserved to consider the judgment. You will be able to click to each of the decisions and (in the case of the High Court), the transcript or determination of the application for special leave. The following image demonstrates:
If you were to be looking at the litigation history in the Full Court decision, you would see the following:
The diamond (shown at the number 2), indicates the decision you are currently viewing.
CaseTrace alerts you to cases which have been the subject of appellate consideration.
Even better, in the ‘cases cited by this decision’ section of CaseTrace, we mark decisions with an “A” to indicate that the decision has been the subject of an appeal.
And the top of a decision is marked as well, even for cases pending.
We mark cases which have been appealed, and even cases which have a pending subsequent decision. Here is an example from the Full Court in Modena Trading Pty Ltd v Cantarella Bros Pty Ltd  FCAFC 110:
There’s much more to come.
With JADE, we aim to be the best legal research platform for legal professionals. JADE. Experience Matters.
Litigation history now featured in JADE
The JADE editorial team is delighted to report the addition of two new pieces of equipment to help modernise our litigation history analysis. Litigation History now appears in JADE and allows you to discover (in most cases) the subsequent history of a case through to any special leave applications to the High Court of Australia and their disposition. This is so even where the parties have changed their names.
The Lexis-Extractor-2000 Editorial Desk
Using the The JADE team is always on the look out for the latest technology. The editorial research tool of choice is the Lexis-Extractor 2000. You’d be surprised, but this all in one desk reflects many years of research. It is the most modern editorial suite.
Using the power of the Lexis-Extractor, our JADE editors can find and classify 15 case references per minute. The buttons on the left-hand-side allow our editors to select cases of relevance for our panels and classify by topic. The telephone allows our duty editor to phone ahead important updates. The Lexis-Extractor produces a slurry of words which are colour coded and pumped into our Think Tank.
The Digital Think Tank Legal History Compressor
Once the Lexis-Extractor has done its magic, the Digital Think Tank Legal History Compressor takes over. We pump the stream of words into a high pressure concept cooker and links form between cases of interest. It is from these links that we create our famous visualisations. JADE Professional users can see the benefits of this amazing equipment.
Our trained JADE editor is adjusting the pressure and rearranging concepts to extract the greatest possible meaning.