Owned by: Centaur Communications, publishers of The Lawyer.

Costs for subscribers: u1,275 per annum plus 15p per minute usage charge. Some special offers are currently available to particular interest groups.

There is also an option to pay as you go.

Content: Lawtel is divided into four groups: reports, legislation, research and daily update. These are subdivided as follows:

Reports: administrative, medical, insurance, banking, aviation, personal injury awards, and practice directions.

Legislation: green papers, white papers, bills, statute summaries, commencements, amendment and repeals, and extracts from statutory instruments.

Research: The Research Bureau and an index of articles which have appeared in leading legal journals.

Daily update: A summary of changes in UK law during the last 24 hours. Summaries are also available for any given week or month. Users may choose the level of detail they require for any particular summary.

The entire Lawtel database is undergoing a period of rapid expansion following its acquisition by Centaur earlier this year.

The Reports Group will be enhanced by the addition of further specialist databases during the next six to nine months.

Current sources include judgments from the following: the House of Lords, the Court of Appeal, the Privy Council, the High Court, EAT, and from other courts or tribunals where the case is of authority or of particular interest to specialist practitioners.

Every report contained in The Weekly Law Reports and the All England Law Reports is summarised, along with reports appearing in all the UK daily newspapers. Each summary is prepared by a member of the Lawtel editorial team. Summaries are added daily and date back to 1980.

Infocheck (the corporate analysts) and Havers and Chambers directories of the legal profession can all be accessed via Lawtel.

Facilities: Lawtel has powerful text-searching software which enables you to locate the material you need at the press of a button. No formal training is required.

Lawtel also provides a research bureau facility which enables you to out-source esoteric areas of legal research quickly and with the minimal effort, for instance, instead of having to draw formal instructions to counsel. A nominal extra charge is made for this service. Responses are given within 24 hours.

Comprehensiveness: We do not believe in an Orwellian concept of a global legal database. Rather, our objective is to summarise all the base material that you would find in a well-stocked legal practitioner's library.

Uniqueness: We are the only online UK legal database that is up-dated every 24 hours and the only service to carry case summaries with the ability to source full text should a subscriber wish to do so.

Will using it save resources?

We believe that a really up-to-date, value added service such as Lawtel is the way of the future, particularly for those firms or organisations whose margins have come under increasing pressure and for those who want to be certain that they have not missed a vital case. Lawtel will save practitioners the annual subscription charge many times over. Our usage figures, which have increased 50 per cent per subscriber in six months, bear this out.

Christopher Parnell is the editor of Lawtel.