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  • While I don't have any argument at all with the sterling work that Balii has done in the past to open up access to judgments online, the real scandal is that we still need it. In these days of open government and open data, all judgments (from at least the senior courts) should be published by the Ministry of Justice itself as a matter of routine, under a standard Open Government licence so that anyone who wants or needs the data has it freely available at no charge.
    The truly excellent online statute law resource at legislation.gov.uk shows how it can be done; there is no reason why the distribution of case law should be left to what is effectively a gentlemen's agreement between the courts and a small charity. And, although Baili's role in pioneering access to judgments is indisputable, it has to be said that the Bailii website (and Bailii's redistribution policy) is looking increasingly out of date when compared to more recent efforts from the online voluntary sector. Maybe the way forward for Bailii is a link up with a an organisation such as MySociety, currently the pace-setters in this field. There's a lot of scope there to not only reduce costs but also to significantly improve the quality and usability of Bailii's output.

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  • I'm guessing that there is not much hope of generating significant revenue from advertisers on a website with weekly traffic of only 40,000 visitors?
    Re the comment above on the site looking outdated, yes it does, but who cares? The case reports are great - that's all that counts.

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  • The problem with the Bailii's website is that it's not at all user-friendly for the casual or non-professional user. That may not be a problem if you are a law professional and are familiar with its quirks and limitations, but there is a potential audience for that material which goes a long way beyond that. It wouldn't be so bad if Bailii was prepared to let other websites re-use their published judgments, so that they could focus on the professional users while allowing other sites to repackage it in a more attractive way for the casual user. But Bailii explicitly prohibit such use,and even go out of their way to make it hard for the casual user to encounter their own website (eg, by refusing to allow Google, Bing, etc to index them). It's a rather dog in the manger attitude, which I find rather frustrating. As a web professional, rather than a legal professional, I look at Bailli's website and shudder - it could all be done so much better. That's why I suggest a partnership with MySociety, who have the skills (and manpower) necessary to bring Bailii into the 21st century. Doing so would also probably reduce Bailii's costs, which seems a sensible avenue to explore given the reason for this debate in the first place.

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  • Mark, I wouldn't describe Legislation.gov.uk as 'truly excellent' given that secondary legislation is not available in revised form.

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  • Mark completely agree decisions should be made freely available but constitutional separation would dictate judgements could not go on justice.gov but rather judiciary.gov. Same as practice notes which are judge made not government made.

    BAILLI is great is great for practitioners without subscriptions to the LexisNexis and Westlaws of this world, but like you say not the most user friendly. Issue is how many 'lay' customers would want to access case law as opposed to 'professional' users (I would hazard this would include law students.

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