Elizabeth Davidson reports. An Irish legal and business information provider is launching an online service in the UK in the new year.

Dublin-based Lawlink signed an agreement last week with Maid, one of the world's largest business information providers, to expand its Internet service to the UK.

Lawlink, a joint venture between the IFG Group and the Law Society of Ireland, offers its Irish subscribers a secure e-mail facility and direct access to Ireland's Companies House and Land Registry as well as court judgments through the Irish Trade Protection Association which provides a database of judgments against all companies and individuals in Ireland.

The UK system will offer a similar service, linking up to Companies House and the Land Registry, and providing court judgments. The service will allow users to access files direct from their PCs.

Lawlink's deal with Maid will also allow the company to offer a general business information service.

Maid's flagship service is called Profound which it claims gives users access to the world's largest database of business information, including news, market research and company data. The company will run a separate but related service for Lawlink users.

Maid strategic alliances director Andre Brown said firms using the service would be able to request searches of companies and individuals on its business information database.

The service will use icons and "hot links", a cross-referencing method which allows users automatically to leap to related topics.

There will also be a "tracking mechanism" whereby Lawlink will alert clients to any new information appearing about a particular topic, said Brown.

He added: "Our strength is knowing how to structure and index information and we are helping Lawlink to repackage its service under its own name."