Article: Enabling Free On-line Access to UK Law Reports: The Copyright Problem

Enabling Free On-line Access to UK Law Reports: The Copyright Problem

Philip Leith and Cynthia Fellows

18 International Journal of Law & Information Technology   72 (Spring 2010)

Abstract

The history of publishing legal decisions (law reporting) in the UK has been that of a privatised system since its inception, and that history has encompassed several hundred years. The privatised nature of this has meant that the product (the law report) has been, except in limited cases, viewed as the property of the publisher, rather than the property of the court or public. BAILII is an open access legal database that came about in part because of the copyrighted, privatised nature of this legal information.

In this paper, we will outline the problem of access to pre-2000 judgments in the UK and consider whether there are legal or other remedies which might enable BAILII to both develop a richer historic database and also to work in harmony, rather than in competition, with legal publishers. We argue that public access to case law is an essential requirement in a democratic common law system, and that BAILII should be seen as a potential step towards a National Law Library.

Global Warming Policy Foundation

Global Warming Policy Foundation is a UK based climate change site (more Bjorn Lomborg than Al Gore)

From the Web Site’s Information Page

The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) is an all-party and non-party think tank and a registered educational charity

Our main purpose is to bring reason, integrity and balance to a debate that has become seriously unbalanced, irrationally alarmist, and all too often depressingly intolerant.

The GWPF’s primary purpose is to help restore balance and trust in the climate debate that is frequently distorted by prejudice and exaggeration 

Our main focus is to analyse global warming policies and its economic and other implications. Our aim is to provide the most robust and reliable economic analysis and advice.

We intend to develop alternative policy options and to foster a proper debate (which at present scarcely exists) on the likely cost and consequences of current policies.

We are funded entirely by voluntary donations from a number of private individuals and charitable trusts. In order to make clear its complete independence, it does not accept gifts from either energy companies or anyone with a significant interest in an energy company.

Global Warming Policy Foundation http://www.thegwpf.org/

Global Human Rights Index Proposal

Britain’s Green Party has released a proposal for a UN Global Human Rights Index that would annually evaluate all countries.

Proposed UN Global Human Rights Index

http://www.greenparty.org.uk/assets/files/reports/ReportHRI_-4-2.pdf

From the executive summary:

The Green Party of England and Wales is proposing that the UN establish a Global Human Rights Index (GloHRI), which would measure and rank each country according to its conformity with international human rights standards.

Using an objective points system, GloHRI would measure every country, based on its compliance with a check-list of agreed human rights norms, such as whether or not it has the death penalty, detention without trial, freedom of the media, the right to protest, equal rights for women and minorities and so on.

This simple, accessible index would enable objective comparisons between the human rights records of different countries, and permit the identification of whether each individual country’s human rights record was, year-on-year, improving or deteriorating.

Published annually, GloHRI would document where each state upholds or violates human rights; providing an incentive for all nations to improve their human rights record and ranking.

Report on New Legal Service Market in the UK

Byfield Consultancy has released a report, based on interviews with practitioners, on the future of  law firm regulation in the UK.  The report discusses legal and busniess changes that impact firms in Britain. 

The Big Bang Report: Opportunities and Threats in the New Legal Services Market. November 2009

Jon Robbins

http://www.byfieldconsultancy.com/docs/Big_Bang_Report.pdf

Excerpt from the Executive Summary:

Chapter 3: Revolution in Legal Services

Alternative business structures, the most revolutionary aspect of the Legal Services Act 2007, will allow lawyers to form multidisciplinary practices offering legal services together with non-legal services. They will also allow non-lawyers, including external investors as well as the likes of Tesco, AA, banks and insurers to have a stake in firms.

Times (London) also has an article on the report:

http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/law/article6921906.ece?&EMC-Bltn=WAN381F

Rule of Law Index

The World Justice Forum meeting in Vienna, Austria has just released the Rule of Law Index. The Index uses numerical indicators to gauge the strength of rule of law in 35 countries, including developed and developing countries.

Here are the 4 broad criteria , with sub-categories, used to create the scores  for each country. It includes compliance with international law.

1. Accountable Government

Government powers limited by constitution

Governmental and non‐governmental checks

Accountable government officials and agents

Accountable military, police, and prison officials

Compliance with international law

 

2. Publicized and stable laws that protect fundamental rights

Laws are clear, publicized and stable

Laws protect fundamental rights

Laws protect security of the person

Laws protect security of property

3. Accessible, fair, and efficient process

Accessible process

Fair and efficient administration

 

4. Access to Justice

Impartial and accountable judicial system  

Efficient, accessible and effective judicial system

Competent and independent attorneys or representatives

Fair and efficient alternative dispute resolution

Rule of Law Index 2009

http://www.abajournal.com/files/WJP_RuleOfLawIndex.pdf

European Council Procedures and Documents

The UK House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee’s report “Conclusions of the European Council and Council of Ministers (HC-86)”  provides a brief outline of procedures and documentation of the Council of the European Union (European Council), the European Union  body the represents the EU member states. Read the report to learn more about  “limité” documents, COREPER, and the General Affairs and External Relations Council.

House of Commons Report: Conclusions of the European Council and Council of Ministers

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmselect/cmeuleg/86/86.pdf

Hat tip to Patrick Overy and his Globalex article: European Union: A Guide to Tracing Working Documents.  http://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/European_Union_Travaux_Preparatoires.htm

Country Profiles from UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office

A nice complement to the “CIA World Fact Book” are the Country Profiles from the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). Although not as detailed as the World Fact Book, the FCO site does provide historical information with important dates and details on trade and investment policy for individual nations. Some country profiles also include paragraphs on environmental and climate change policy (e.g. Brazil).

Country Profiles – Foreign and Commonwealth Office

http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/about-the-fco/country-profiles/

Last days of the Law Lords

July 31, 2009  is the last day that the law lords will work at the House of Lords. The new UK Supreme Court should be up and running soon in the fall.  Curiously, with the end of the House of Lords’ judicial function, the U.S. Supreme Court is now one of the oldest  unchanged courts of last resort.

Coverage of the end of the era for the Law Lords

From Law Lords to Supreme Court http://news.parliament.uk/2009/07/from-house-of-lords-to-supreme-court/ 

Farewell to the law lords http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/law/article6731018.ece?&EMC-Bltn=BGLA5B

House of Commons Report on Constitutional Reform & Renewal , July 2009 http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmselect/cmjust/923/923.pdf

A Potted History of the Law Lords http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/8176958.stm

Global Carbon Trading: a Framework for Reducing Emissions

The UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Chnage has released a report on global cap and trade: “Global Carbon Trading: a Framework for Reducing Emissions.”

http://www.decc.gov.uk/Media/viewfile.ashx?FilePath=What we do\Global climate change and energy\Tackling Climate Change\Emissions Trading\Lazarowicz report\1_20090720094330_e_@@_GlobalCarbonTradingaframeworkforreducingemissions.pdf&filetype=4

Table of Contents

INTRODUCTION

THE CURRENT FRAMEWORK

LONG-TERM FRAMEWORK FOR CARBON TRADING

NATIONAL TARGETS IN DEVELOPED COUNTRIES

EMISSIONS TRADING

DEVELOPING COUNTRIES – A PHASED APPROACH

GOVERNANCE AND INSTITUTIONS

CAPACITY BUILDING

CONCLUSIONS

ANNEX A: SECTOR SUMMARIES:

Power Industry Forestry Agriculture Surface transport International shipping International aviation Buildings Waste

ANNEX B: EMISSION TRAJECTORIES IN THE TRANSITION PERIOD

ANNEX C: CAP AND TRADE IN PRACTICE – THE ACID RAIN PROGRAMME

ANNEX D: GLOBAL CARBON FINANCE MODEL

ANNEX E: CURRENT AND PROPOSED EMISSIONS TRADING SYSTEMS

Squire Law Library’s Eminent Scholars Archive

Cambridge University’s Squire Law Library maintains an oral history archive of interviews with prominent international law scholars and practitioners.  The site includes audio files and transcripts of the interviews. 

Interviewees include:

Judge Stephen Schwebel

Professor Elihu Lauterpacht

Professor Derek Bowett

Professor Martti Koskenniemi

Many thanks to the folks at the Squire Law Library for creating and maintaining this resource that brings personal and historical perspectives to the discipline of international law.

Eminent Scholars Archive

http://www.squire.law.cam.ac.uk/eminent_scholars/