[Open-Legislation] Open Legislation for all of us!

Francis Davey fjmd1a at gmail.com
Thu Sep 26 14:52:42 UTC 2013

Most of the most important judgments in England and Wales are not published
as open data. I am using what influence I have to try to change that but
without someone with serious political clout taking an interest it may take
time. There is considerable resistance to the idea in various quarters,
some of it quite senior within the judiciary.

The senior president of my tribunal is right behind the idea and there is a
project in train to make tribunal decisions available in a reasonably open
form, which is very positive. But sociologically the tribunals are only
recently part of the court system having been administered separately in
the past. They have for the most part been more institutionally positive
about release of decisions in a systematic way via the internet.

(all tribunal service tribunals' decisions were scrapable - although one
sometimes had to write horrid contortions in the code, including
re-implementing javascript :-).

My apologies for not attending OKFCon. I realise that as a practising open
data lawyer, qualified computer scientist and part-time judge, I could be
very useful to any project aimed at opening up law. I am afraid I had
business elsewhere.

I will keep an eye on what is being done. I don't always have time to
respond to, or read, everything going on and I tend to be stuck in London
in the UK, but I am very keen to see legislation opened up.

I do sometimes worry at some of the work I see being done (not by this list
I expect). Eg something recently passed my eye which suggested a project in
world legislation that would use date on which legislation was passed as a
primary key - clearly influenced by French and similar legislative
traditions. That is a bad idea and could only have been thought of without
talking to informed lawyers in other jurisdictions.

So, if anyone wants to ask about England and Wales and wants the ear of a
lawyer, emailing me directly with specific questions may be more useful
than my being on a mailing list (I've signed up) since sometimes I'm too
busy to read it through.

All the best with this.


2013/9/26 Rufus Pollock <rufus.pollock at okfn.org>

> This is fantastic Clemens - very excited!
> To add: info on my in-progress scraping and processing of UK court
> judgments at https://github.com/okfn/ideas/issues/57
> Rufus
> On 26 September 2013 10:39, Clemens Wass <clemens at wass.at> wrote:
>> Dear all,
>> the Law Mining Hackathon 2013 in Geneva during the OKCon was a huge
>> success and led to the re-activation of this OKFN working group and mailing
>> list.
>> Everybody is taking about open data, open innovation and open source
>> software today. Why shouldn't the legal community benefit from these
>> concepts as well? We would like you to become active in this forum! What
>> are your thoughts?
>> Sometimes it does not take a huge effort to drive innovation, as we have
>> seen in Geneva. A few projects have been launched in only three days:
>> - Case Law as a Service (CLaaS)
>> - Open Laws Search (http://www.openlaws.eu/)
>> - Open This Data (http://button.datalets.ch)
>> - Open Privacy Legislation (http://cdb.io/19dvTYx)
>> Special thanks to the team in Switzerland: Christian, Oleg and
>> Jean-Henry. You were great!
>> Read more about the hackathon projects here:
>> http://make.opendata.ch/?page_id=541
>> What can you do?
>> - Spread the word to your colleagues and friends.
>> - Ask them to join our mailing list: http://legislation.okfn.org
>> - Become active in our mailing list and start discussions!
>> To get the ball rolling:
>> - What do you think about the hackathon projects?
>> - How much would you share with others? How open are you?
>> - What do you think about Open Access Journals in the legal field?
>> - How will future legal services look like in an open environment?
>> Just as a reminder, the OKFN Open Legislation Working Group exists to:
>>    1.
>>    *Define the area of Open Legislation – what it means and what it
>>    involves.* In our view there are at least three facets: availabilty
>>    of legal documents, information on law-making processes and the
>>    collaborative work on legal documents.
>>    2.
>>    *Act as a central point of reference and support for people who are
>>    interested in open legislation*
>>    3.
>>    *Identify practices of early adopters, collecting data and developing
>>    guides.*
>>    4.
>>    *Act as a hub for the development of low cost, community driven
>>    projects related to open legislation*
>> Best, Clemens
>> About me: I am a legal professional with a good understanding of
>> technology. I am based in Salzburg, Austria but I also teach at the Vienna
>> University of Economics and Business. You can find my profile here:
>> at.linkedin.com/pub/clemens-wass/1/945/aa2/. I have volunteered to
>> handle the administrative work around this mailing list, so please, give me
>> something to do ;-)
>> *
>> JOIN: http://legislation.okfn.org
>> *
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> --
> *
> Rufus Pollock
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> The Open Knowledge Foundation <http://okfn.org/>
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Francis Davey
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