JADE Year in Review 2015

Easier, Faster, Better

The JADE editorial team has had an amazing year. New team members, even more content, and even more users.

Our mission is to make legal research easier, faster, and better. Like all good mission statements, it is unbounded and provide a range of meanings. Is your easier, our easier? Does ‘better’ come in orange or black? Is green the new red? As with all professional legal research platforms, seeing is believing in JADE.

Meet the team

We have more dedicated JADE team members, but our lego supplies have been used to construct our new 3D user interface, virtual reality goggles, and to create personas for our JADE users. Because every user is different, we have needed a lot of lego. We pieced this photo together from leftovers.


The whole BarNet team sends greetings, and wishes you, our dear reader, happy holidays.

Key improvements we made to JADE in 2015

JADE Platform enhancements

Here are just a few of the amazing improvements we made during 2015 to the JADE Research Platform:

  • We implemented the first part of our extensive litigation histories project for most intermediate appellate courts and the High Court of Australia, which includes:
    • (in the case of the High Court) references to written submissions, special leave hearings, and transcript.
    • (in the case of all courts) tracing as many decisions as we can find, including earlier interlocutory hearings; and
    • letting you know (as best we can) that a decision you are reading has received subsequent appellate consideration, including from the FCCA and AATA, or in the case of some intermediate appellate courts and the High Court of Australia, when a decision is pending, and, in the case of the High Court, when special leave has been granted or refused.
  • We improved proximity operators to let you use what you know from other major legal research platforms in JADE. This includes the popular w/n and w/p options. We also coupled that with better documentation.
  • We created the amazing JADE Find tool to help you to pin-point search terms within your search results and save time, unlike any other professional legal research system, we highlight (in vibrant wonderful colours):
    • the places where the entire search string is satisfied in the decision and not just mere words; and
    • root derivatives of words, so that typing in ‘injury’ will also highlight references to injuries, injured, injuring, and more.
  • We harnessed the power of virtual scissors, to help you quickly focus on your research. If you are a JADE Professional user, with a single click you can see only the paragraphs which contain:
    • the terms entered (aptly and uniquely called focus matches); or
    • the parts of the retrieved decision to which reference has been made by subsequent decisions (unimaginatively called ‘see cited sections only’).
  • Linking JADE to your organisation’s library’s subscription systems and other content. We call this feature LibraryPlus and it is available to JADE Enterprise Users for a small additional fee.

We have many more improvements in the pipeline for early 2016. If you have suggestions for improvements, please let us know.

More content in the JADE Content Ecosystem

We put much more content into the JADE system. Here’s a brief snapshot:

  • Including links to all authorised report and leading specialised report series. This means that:
    • you can search by reference to reported citations, without needing to know the Medium Neutral Citation. Even better, if you subscribe to these reports, you can see at a glance if a decision has been reported and use JADE to reliably locate the authorised report citation.
    • we now include the following additional report series citations, and we have been progressively backfilling them to at least 2000:
      • All Australian Authorised reports series, ACTR, NSWLR, NTR, QdR, SASR, TasR, VR, and WAR;
      • Administrative Law Decisions (ALD);
      • Butterworths Property Reports (BPR);
      • Local Government and Environmental Reports of Australia (LGERA);
      • Australian Criminal Reports (ACR, ACrimR, A Crim R);
      • Banking and Finance Reports of Australia (BFRA);
      • Australian Tax Cases (ATC);
      • Motor Vehicle Reports (MVR);
      • Family Law Reports (Fam LR); and
      • Intellectual Property Reports (IPR).
  • Legislation. During 2015, we added and enhanced additional legislation coverage. In particular we added and enhanced Commonwealth Legislation, New South Wales Legislation, Queensland Legislation, Victorian Legislation, and ACT legislation. Expect many more enhancements in January 2016 as our coders taken their computers to the beach for extra fun.
  • More Court and Tribunal content. During 2015, driven by requests from our users, we added many additional courts and tribunals to the JADE Corpus, including:
    • the County Court of Victoria (VCC)
    • ACT Industrial Court;
    • ACT Coroner’s Court;
    • Industrial Court of Queensland;
    • Mental Health Tribunal of NSW)
    • South Australian Wardens Court;
    • NSW Workers Compensation Commission; and
    • WA State Administrative Tribunal.

New reading and reporting formats

  • We made new formats for our JADE professional users, including:
    • Professional layout: under the Print and Export tab there is now a Professional Layout option for cases post 2013 which puts the unreported decision in a familiar law report format.
    • The Collation of full-text decisions into a single PDF, if you upload full-text decisions.

JADE World launched

Our side project, JADE World was launched on 15 June 2015.

JADE World aggregates selected leading blogs and tweets referring to cases or statutes and integrates them with content found in JADE as an additional tool for maintaining current awareness.

Thank you for your support

The support we’ve received and continue to receive from all the JADE Professional subscriptions is overwhelming. Thanks to you we’re in a good position to surpass JADE 2015 in the new year. Be ready for the new JADE features in 2016.


See you in January.

Phrase in context machine learning

The JADE team is delighted to announce the next generation in its highly-praised search system. Code-named Zora, our new system is being progressively released to JADE professional subscribers.

We are using new methods and new equipment to bring this system to life. There are three key parts to Zora:

  • the combobulator transduction gateway™;
  • the ambiguity containment cortex™; and
  • the phrase extraction tanks™

Here are a few photos as the team was working on the prototype:

Combobulator transduction gateway™

Legal search systems often overlook that meaning is in the eye of the beholder, and that one legal researcher’s meaning may be another’s confusion. Using our state-of-the-art combobulator transduction gateway™, we have been able to extract personalised research results to minimise search frustration.

As the following photo illustrates, the assembly of this capability takes a talented hands-on engineering team.

This device can process more than 200,000 meanings a second.
It’s tricky work to tune the JADE Combobulator.
source: http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsac.1a35314

Ambiguity containment cortex™

Our team’s motto is the “ambiguity is the enemy of progress”. When our users search for contract, they want agreement and not reduce in size. After years of research, it turns out we were approaching the problem of legal search in the wrong way. We needed to look at the space between words, rather than the words themselves. We needed to consider proximity searching in a new way.

Built into the core of JADE, the ambiguity containment cortex is deceptively small. Holding only the spaces between words, we saved on storage. Although legal ambiguity is widespread, most of this results from the use large words with few spaces.

Once we were able to scale down the size of the container, our next  challenge was to make the structure sturdy enough to restrain outbursts of non-sequiturs polluting an otherwise accurate search. The following photo shows our team precisely adjusting the containment panels:


Phrase extraction tanks

These amazing tanks hold all of the known legal phrases in a suspension from which meaning can be extracted through the use of solar energy and fresh air.


They require large blower fans to push the air to release the meaning:


Inside the JADE Search Engine

Many of our users ask how the JADE magic occurs. Our JADE legal research platform uses the latest technologies to bring you the information you need.

Here are some never before seen photos of our next generation search engine. But first, let us show you how far we have come.

The first generation legal search system

You will be familiar with first generation legal search systems. You may have used them to undertake Australian legal research back in the late 1990s. Few people know how they work. For most people, they do not work very well. When we were trying to understand how to improve legal research, we developed a few prototypes of these early systems. You can see from the photo below how they were plainly insufficient for the needs of the modern legal professional researcher.

Our first generation central retrieval governor http://hdl.lov.gov.pnp/hhh.ny1231/photos/123261p.

As the speed of research increased, the wheel to the left overheated and caused the retrieval system to over retrieve irrelevant information. Then it caught fire and this photo is all we have left of that fateful research experiment.

The JADE Next Generation Search Engine

Who says that technological advances cannot also look good on the outside? In the past years, we have invested heavily in improving all aspects of JADE.


The JADE Next Generation Research Hub


Forthcoming features in JADE 6.3 (Build 954)

About JADE 6.3

The JADE legal research team is reaching a new milestone: our 1,000th release. Leading up to this big event, we are releasing a number of new features. In JADE 6.3 (Build 954) we will feature the following:

  1. Improved search connectors. Use any search connector from any search engine and it will work. We are working on a separate post to show you the power of the new connectors, including some unique ones added by JADE. Many of our improved search connectors are available to all users. However, we would really love you to become a JADE professional user. Your support as a professional user is what powers our further development of JADE.
  2. Phrase in context display and searching. With this feature, you will be able to see at a glance words and phrases which our cyborgs editors have identified as significant and find other case law and legislative materials with similar words or phrases used in the same or similar context. Sounds bland, but our beta testers have been more excited than we have seen them for a long while. So excited that we brought forward the release. Phrase in context is only available to JADE professional users.
  3. Improvements to visualisation. We have simplified some of the visualisation features. These visualisation features are available only to JADE professional users.
  4. Lots of underlying changes to make the magic happen as quickly as you have come to expect. This required re-engineering and lots of amazing computational gymnastics. Our whiteboard has seen some intensive battles between competing algorithms and passionate statisticians.
  5. More extensive updates to legislation and new case law. Stay tuned for more details about these.

There’s much more to report. We will do it when we reach the next release.

About the JADE release schedules

We release between two and six builds per week. When we are making changes, we frequently release about ten builds. Not all builds contain user-facing features. Much of what we do is to improve JADE from the inside and to prepare our systems for important updates. For each important update, we increment the minor number. In recent times:

  • JADE 6.1 contained amazing new document management features, including filters, navigation tools, and many UI enhancements. We updated our API to power JADE.WORLD.
  • JADE 6.2 contained a complete overhaul and improvement of our search systems, including better highlighting and distributed search. It also contained a number of UI refinements.
  • JADE 6.3 contains phrase in context (building extensively upon the foundation laid by JADE 6.1 and 6.2). As you’d expect, it contained a number of UI enhancements and improvements to visualisation. We did a huge amount of re-engineering of the underlying systems to make unnecessary complexity hidden from our research-hungry legal professionals.

Commemorating the Magna Carta — Textual Interpretation — Collecting our heritage on JADE

The influence of the Magna Carta can be seen in everything we do in the practise of law, including the importance of legal research and how we use precedent as the principled and consistent application of law in our democratic society.

The Magna Carta illustrates the importance of the written text in our society and how that text can be taken many centuries later and linked to a document which came to represent our modern concept of liberty — the Bill of Rights. Our expectation (and training) is that the law is a textual tradition. Written and preserved for future generations.

In our digital age, we run the risk of losing sight of many important pre-digital texts and overlooking their importance. We run the risk of muting and thereafter forgetting the voice of earlier scholarship.

The JADE team wants to use the 800th Anniversary of the Magna Carta to encourage preservation of legal scholarship and its wide availability. Please join us by nominating your most important works of legal scholarship since Magna Carta. You may nominate as many works as you like. We will then publish the list and produce a list of the top 800 titles.

Send your suggestions by visiting: https://www.jade.world/magnacarta or by sending an email to editors@jade.io.

Duncan v the State of NSW; NuCoal Resources Ltd v the State of NSW [2015] HCA 13

Duncan v New South Wales;
NuCoal Resources Limited v New South Wales;
Cascade Coal Pty Limited v New South Wales

Duncan v New South Wales [2015] HCA 13 (15 April 2015) (FRENCH CJ, HAYNE, KIEFEL, BELL, GAGELER, KEANE AND NETTLE JJ)
Available in easy reading JADE format: BarNet_JADE_Duncan_NSW_2015_HCA_13

Independent Commission Against Corruption v Cunneen [2015] HCA 14

Independent Commission Against Corruption v Cunneen

ICAC v Cunneen [2015] HCA 14 (15 April 2015) (FRENCH CJ, HAYNE, KIEFEL, GAGELER AND NETTLE JJ).
Available in friendly JADE reading PDF format: JADE reading format for [2015] HCA 14.

Re-inventing the authority and integrity of primary legal sources for the online world

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:

  1. collaborative R&D research is being undertaken between collaborators, to acquire new knowledge, and which involve risk or innovation;
  2. there must be at least one Partner Organisation which must make a contribution in cash and/or in kind to the project;
  3. the funding or in-kind contribution must must at least match the total funding requested from the ARC;
  4. the proposed project is to apply advanced knowledge to problems and/or to provide opportunities to obtain national economic, social or cultural benefits;
  5. the proposed project provides opportunities for researchers to pursue internationally competitive research in collaboration with those Partner Organisations
  6. 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:

Screenshot 2015-03-07 14.06.04


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.

Source: http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3c24503. Photographer: Herman Hiller

Reading the new AustLII signed by AustLII Format. Source: http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3c24503. Photographer: Herman Hiller

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