PART III: INTERNATIONAL SURVEY OF LEGAL INFORMATION RETRIEVAL
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6 A BRIEF HISTORY OF COMPUTERIZED LEGAL INFORMATION RETRIEVAL
Computers have now been used in legal information systems for more than 20 years. This may be too short a time to justify the use of a dignified word like "history". But these years have been hectic; a number of projects have been launched, a number of systems have been created. The literature makes frequent references to systems or projects, but it is often difficult to relate these to each other. To most people, the picture of the development remains an unsolved puzzle.
We have ourselves faced this difficulty in our attempt to sketch a coherent, although simplified, picture of the development. We have had the opportunity to draw on a great number of sources, but the documentation is still unsatisfactory. For one thing, Norway has been rather remote from the center of activities - although the Norwegian Research Center for Computers and Law, founded in 1970, maintains close contacts with persons or institutions in a number of countries. Also, documentation often comes in the form of informal reports, conference papers, etc, which are not readily available.
For these reasons there may be lacunae in our expose, but we still think it may serve a useful function with respect to the more general discussions in this book. It may also serve as some sort of explanation of all the acronyms used as names on projects or systems, which may be unfamiliar to the reader.
Actually it is difficult to distinguish between projects and systems. In some cases, a general text retrieval program is available from a software vendor, and this program is used in a number of systems - like the IBM program STAIRS (used by, for instance, PORODASEN in Brazil, CEDIJ in France, Camera dei deputati in Italy, DATEV in Germany and DC-jura in Denmark), the British STATUS program (used by, for
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instance, Kluwer in Holland, EUROLEX in England, in applications in Australia and as the basis of programs in Norway), the French MISTRAL (used, for instance, by the Common Market system CELEX), etc.
In other cases, the project is simultaneously concerned with developing programs and a legal information service, like LEXIS, WESTLAW, the Responsa Project and others.
This chapter is based on Bing/Harvold 1977:57-74. We shall here review mainly the general background and the first initiatives, while in the country-by-country discussions of chapter 7 we shall review national operative services and their context. This scheme will cause some overlapping, but nevertheless we think that a general and overall introduction may be appropriate.
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6.2.1 Libraries and indexes
Computerized legal information services correspond to traditional systems for facilitating legal research. Lawyers have traditional tools to assist them, the most important being, of course, the law library. The law librarian has a number of methods for finding the material requested by the user, for instance catalogues organized systematically or alphabetically (according to author, title, indexing terms, etc).
The accumulation of volumes in American law libraries seems to have increased drastically around 1930 (Allen/Brooks/James 1962:22, Lawlor 1962:300-305). When the application of computers to administrative systems became a realistic alternative, computerbased library systems were created (cfr Hayes/Becker 1970), and were also as a matter of course considered for law libraries (cfr for instance Allen/Brooks/James 1962:23-81, Veaner 1971).
The problems of library systems are not, however, identical with the problems of interest retrieval systems. A library may use a computerized system for the administration of their collection of books: which books are lent, to whom, etc. Also, search requests will often be formulated in such a way that fact retrieval - not interest retrieval - will be the adequate response: do you have a book by this author, or a book with this title and so on.
The catalogues and indexes of a library will, however, often be used for interest retrieval. A search request must therefore be formulated to correspond with the search mechanism available in the catalogue or index: a systematic number, the name of an author, an indexing term, etc. An obvious step would be to convert the manual catalogues and indexes into an automatic system.
Actually, special indexes have been developed to satisfy the need of the lawyer. Most legal publications (for compilations of statutes and law reporters) have extensive and well-developed indexes. Such indexes may in fact be publications in their own right, covering for instance the decisions of a
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certain court over a certain period of time, as a digest, etc.
In Norway, which is certainly not too well developed in this respect, there has, for instance, been published an index of all statutes cited in cases published in the major law reports.
In the US, where case law plays a more important role in the legal system, a number of indexes, digests, etc have been developed which aid the lawyer in his search for precedents. The major example is the Key Classification System developed by West Publishing Co. This system includes 420 subjects, which have their own term and key. Each subject is in turn divided into parts and numbers. The subject "Contract" is for instance divided into 6 parts and 356 Key Numbers.
An example given by Lando (1968:175-176): Under the subject "Contracts", Part II "Construction & Operation", and the Key Number 144 "What Law Governs" several cases are cited, one example is:
"N.Y. Under 'center of gravity' or 'grouping of contracts' theory of Conflict of Laws, the court lays emphasis on law of place which has most significant contracts with matter in dispute rather than place of making or performing the contract thereby giving place having most interest in the problem paramount control over legal issues arising, Auten v Auten 194 N.E. 2nd 99, 308 N.Y. 155."
The source itself (the case cited) must be consulted if the user wants to control the interpretation in the digest, or make use of the case itself - the digest serves only the retrieval and relevance functions, the source function has to be solved by the original case reporter.
One might have thought that indexes like the Key Classification System would have been transformed into computerized systems. Within other fields, we have seen such developments - for instance that of the Index Medicus into MEDLARS and MEDLINE (cfr for instance Fagerheim 1972).
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Circumstances did, however, pick another point of departure.
It may be a source of some curiosity that the history of computers is indebted to law. The US presidential elections every fourth year calls for the votes to be distributed on districts according to the population. This presumes an up-to-date population statistic, and at the end of the last century, the time required to process the data from the census endangered the concordance between politics and law. In competition with two non-mechanical systems, the electric data tabulation system of Herman Hollerith was adopted for the 1890 Census. In 1896 Hollerith formed his own company, the Tabulating Machine Company, which was sold in 1911 and shortly afterwards merged with two other companies to become the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company. This company was under direction of Thomas J Watson since 1914, and was renamed the International Business Machine Corporation in 1924. In this way, IBM does indeed owe its very existence to law.
The word jurimetrics was invented by Lee Loevinger in his now classical paper "Jurimetrics - The Next Step Forward", a term he defines as "the scientific investigation of legal problems" (1949:31). In his survey of the problems of Jurimetrics (1949:32-36) he mainly advocated an empirical approach to legal problems - and many of these problems are today included in the sociology of law (for instance the behavior of judges).
Loevinger's paper does, however, serve as an exponent of the interest which lawyers were beginning to take in logic and law. This interest is not of a recent date. George Boole, the inventor of Boolean logic (which is basic of most text retrieval systems) used a problem in Jewish dietary law as a simple example in his An Investigation of the Laws of Thought (1854), and the problems of logic and law have been discussed in legal philosophy (cfr the historical survey and discussion in Sundby 1974:50-76). The use
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of computers, which demands a high degree of discipline and logic from programmers, did, however, in one sense give "the problems of logic and law a new dimension: deontic logic may in fact be translated into computer programs, and the possibility of constructing true decision-automatas ("deontic machines") was created. A number of papers discussing the application of modern logic to law was published (cfr the survey of Lawlor 1962:305-310). Especially important for the later development were the papers published by Layman E Allen, commencing with his paper in Yale Law Journal (1957) "Symbolic logic: A razor-edged tool for drafting and interpreting legal documents". In 1959 Allen started editing the magazine named MULL (Modern Uses of Logic in Law), which was published by the Electronic Data Retrieval Committee established by the American Bar Association in the same year, now the Standing Committee on Law and Technology. This journal was dedicated to papers discussing the application of the scientific method to law, and has played an important role in the creating of an interest for computers and law (cfr Tapper 1963:132). MULL is still published under the title Jurimetrics Journal.
With respect to the development of computerized retrieval systems, the development briefly sketched above has only limited interest. But we believe it was important in the way the attention of lawyers was turned toward "the application of the scientific method to law". One of the exciting, new tools which science offered the post-war society was the electronic computer. And the application of the computer to law was motivated largely by the work of Allen, Loevinger, and Lawlor. However, the computer was not put to use as a "deontic machine" in the first place, but rather as a research tool - a distinction we have stressed earlier.
It should, however, be remembered that the tradition discussed above is still very much part of computers and law, and does indeed seem to have gained importance during the last years. The milestone was perhaps represented by the Swansea Workshop for Computer Science and Law, organized by professor Bryan Niblett 17th - 27th September 1979 at University College, Swansea (cfr the proceedings published as Niblett 1980). This was followed by the Florence conference "Logica,
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Informatica, Diritto" 6th - 10th April, 1981, organized by the Istituto per la documentazione giurdica, Florence - preproceedings published as Ciampi/Maretti/Martino 1981, proceedings as Ciampi 1982 and Martino 1982. The last conference in this chain was organized by Institut fuer Datenverarbeitung im Rechtswesen at the Gesellschaft fuer Mathematik und Datenverarbeitung near Bonn. Its proceedings (autumn 1983) are currently under publication. It may be worth noting that the founder of the Jurimetrics Journal, professor Layman Allen, is still very active and innovative within the work on deontic systems.
The first modern, electronic computer - ENIAC - became operational in the summer of 1946. The same year Lewis O Kelso pointed out in a paper published by Rocky Mountain Law Review with the rethoric title "Does the law need a technical revolution?" (cited after Lawlor 1962:310):
"Today the lawyer works substantially as he worked before the industrial revolution. Only automated legal research will save him from playing one of the confused, ill-paid and unsatisfactory professions in the world of tomorrow."
Kelso's proposal is believed to be the earliest suggestion for creating automatic retrieval systems to assist legal research. His suggestion was stimulated by the work of dr Vannevar Bush, who had advocated mechanical searching methods in scientific fields, and Kelso suggested a "Law-dex"-system based on the use of punched cards.
Another suggestion was made in 1955 by Vincent P Biunno of the New Jersey Law Institute (Lawlor 1962:311). He proposed to enter legal information on a tape which was to be moving continously past a number of read-out stations. The information might then be retrieved by different lawyers more or less at the same time.
These examples are not mere curiosities, they illustrate the fact that lawyers at that time were looking for new ways to ease the workload represented by legal research. This interest - and the need that created it - would fuse with some of the ideas generated by Jurimetrics: the first computerized legal
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information retrieval working on natural language documents and allowing search requests to be formulated in Boolean logic.
An early description of a computerized on-line information system is given in the short-story "How-2" by the US science fiction writer Clifford D Simak. The story, which was published in Galaxy 1954, tells of a lawyer who one morning discovers a box with a do-it-yourself kit inside. Following the instructions, he builds himself a robot - which happens to be mis-delivered from the future. The following mixup sends the lawyer before the court. But his friendly robot spends the night before the trial building a new robot - a lawyer robot.
"'(A lawyer robot) with a far greater memory capacity than any of the others and with a brain-computer that operates on logic. That's what law is, isn't it - logic?'
'I suppose it is,' said Lee. 'At least it's supposed to be ... It just wouldn't work. To practise law, you must be admitted to the bar. To be admitted to the bar, you must have a degree in law and pass an examination and, although there's never been an occation to establish a precedent, I suspect the applicant must be human ...'
'All they'd need to do would be to read the books,' said Albert. 'Ten seconds to a page or so. Everything they read would be stored in their memory cells.'
Lee scrubbed his chin with a knotted fist and the light of speculation was growing in his eyes. 'It might be worth a try. If it works, though, it'll be an evil day for jurisprudence.'"
Whether Lee's last words are prophetic or not remains to be seen. But the American Bar Association has looked into the question of when the computer enters into unauthorized practice, and optical character readers actually scan pages in a speed comparable with the lawyer robot's ...
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6.3 The initiative
6.3.1 The Pittsburgh Project
The University of Pittsburgh started developing a Data Processing and Computing Center in 1955. In the course of four years, systems for information retrieval had become an integral part of the Center, which at that time had changed from an IBM 650 to an IBM 7070 and a supplementary IBM 1401 (Asher/Kurfeerst 1963:4).
At approximately the same time, professor John F Horty and William B Kehl started a project in the Graduate School of Public Health, designed to study and improve the health statutes of Pennsylvania (Asher/Kurfeerst 1963:4). In 1956 the Health Law Center under direction of Horty undertook the writing of a manual on the subject of hospital law. They looked at material from several states, and found that there was little uniformity in indexing from state to state. Therefore special indexes had to be developed. Problems increased as the project moved into wider areas of health law, and the project looked to the Computing Center of the university for a solution (Loevinger 1963:10).
A special assignment proved to be a kind of a turning point. A state legislator in Pennsylvania had a bill passed to change the expression "retarded child" to the slightly less stigmatic "exceptional child". In order to implement the bill, all locations where the phrase occurred had to be identified.
This type of statutory revision is trivial, but nevertheless time consuming and fairly typical. Recent examples from Norway are the change of the title for "lawyer" ("sakf&rer" into "advokat") and for "local social security office" ("trygdekasse" into "trygdekontor"). Examples are probably abundant within any jurisdiction. Cfr Lovteknikk 1971:16.
The Health Law Center started out to solve this problem in the traditional way; they paid a group of students to read through the statutes and regulations, and make a note of all occurences of the relevant phrases. It turned out that the inaccuracy was too
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high to be acceptable - and another group of students was hired to reread the material. Still there were errors.
A more radical method was then adopted. The entire material was registered on punch cards and verified by doublepunch. When a machine readable copy of the material was established, it became quite a trivial task for the computer to read through the material and retrieve all occurrences where the word "retarded" proceeded the word "child" or variations of "child" (Link 1973:6-7).
The result was not only a satisfactory solution to the original assignment. As a by-product, the Health Law Center got the full text of the statutes in machine-readable form. And Horty found other and more exciting ways of exploiting his material. Actually it was the beginning of the text retrieval systems which today are predominant in computerized legal information retrieval.
One may note that this first example is not an example of interest retrieval, which text retrieval systems mainly are used for today, but of fact retrieval. The original assignment of Horty was to find certain words, not certain ideas. But as there are such a close relationship between words and the ideas they express, and as the authentic text of the statutes and regulations were required, the leap to the more complex interest research was, perhaps, not too long.
Horty was not the only person at this time with an interest in computer applications to legal research. For instance, conventional book indexes were converted into machine-readable form (Link 1973:7), and twenty years of headnotes of design patent cases had been stored on the magnetic discs of an IBM RAMRAC 305 for retrieval purposes in an experiment carried out by Donal A Andrews, who at that time was director of research and development of the United States Patent Office (Lawlor 1962:313, Tapper 1963:133). Other projects are briefly mentioned by Loevinger 1963:13-21.
The text retrieval approach did, however, lead to some advantages for legal research - one being the appeal to lawyers to conduct their retrieval against
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the sources themselves instead of against an index or an abstract. At this time, the relative performance of different methods was not very well known, but there was a general attitude of optimism in regard to the text retrieval approach, a hope that the potential of this method might be higher than the index or abstract approach.
We also think that the retrieval strategies developed by Horty in order to overcome the specificity of the authentic text may, to some degree, have caused this attitude. Horty suggested that questions should be split into "concepts", and that each "concept" should be described by a list of search terms. (Cfr examples in Horty 1960:3-5, Lawlor 1962:315-320, Loevinger 1963:11-13.) This strategy does have some important traits in common with the conceptor-based retrieval strategy developed and recommended by the Norwegian Research Center for Computers and Law.
Loevinger (1963:11-12) discusses an example in which a search request is constructed for the question, "What are the rights of illegitimate children and the duties owed to them by their parents under Pennsylvanian Statutes?" This question is split into three "concepts", the first being 'baby', the second 'parent' and the third 'illegitimate'. Loevinger lists the search terms used to describe each of these "concepts". For 'baby' he lists:
All these search terms may be used in the search request combined with the Boolean operator or, and the three lists of search terms (where all terms in a list are combined with or) are combined with the Boolean operator and. Documents which contain at least one term from each of the three lists, are retrieved.
It may be noticed that the words occurring in one
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list are synonyms - but only in the context of the question. As words representing 'parent', Loevinger for instance lists both "mother" and "father", two words which in another context (for instance in a discussion on sex roles) certainly will not be synonyms. Such words, which may be considered equivalent for search purposes, have been termed searchonyms by Richard PC Hayden (cfr Lawlor 1962:318), but we shall adhere to the less elegant term "context dependent synonyms".
The batch oriented system for storage and retrieval of statutes was named the "Key Word in Combination"-approach by Horty (Loevinger 1963:12). The acronym KWIC, however, generally denotes a "key words in context"-listing, first developed by HP Luhn of IBM.
Horty's system was successfully demonstrated at an American Bar Association conference in 1960.
6.3.2 The Aspen Systems Corporation
The system developed at the Health Law Center was in 1968 made into the nucleus of a private company, Automated Law Searching - later renamed Aspen Systems Corporation (Aitken/Campbell/Morgan 1972:31, Prestel 1971:19). Aspen rapidly expanded and diversified its activities, it coverted into machine readable form the United States Code and the statutes of all states, in addition to regulatory law, local ordinances, case law, etc.
Among the services offered by Aspen was also a bill-drafting service (QUIK-DRAFT), bound KWIC-indexes, production of compilations of statutes in force in a printed form, etc. Aspen acquired as a subsidiary the Computype Corporation (St Paul, Minnesota) in order to utilize the machine readable material for photocomposition and typesetting (Tapper 1970:22-23).
The first to have emphasized the close relationship between a legal retrieval system and a system for printing legal material, seems to have been professor John Lyons of George Washington University. In 1966 he founded Autocomp Inc mainly to
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develop and combine text retrieval and photocomposition techniques. (Cfr Prestel 1971:21, Tapper 1973:186-188.) A brief description is given by Lyons 1969:60-63.
Aspen started as a corporation with a special know-how of text retrieval techniques, acquired through the early experiments at Pittsburgh University. Other systems were launched by Aspen, for instance LITE (or FLITE, as it is known today), and Aspen also lent a hand in the development of integrated retrieval and publishing systems. By 1970 Aspen was providing various legal information services to 20 states, in addition to serving a number of public agencies and private corporations, cfr Tapper 1973:89. The terminal-oriented text retrieval systems developed during the last part of the 1960ies seem to have reduced the importance of Aspen's services - but there was still a market for publishing legal material, especially annotated statutes or codes.
In the early 1970ies, Aspen was acquired as a subsidiary of American Can Co, and Horty left Aspen and returned to private practice (Aitken/Campbell/Morgan 1972:31). It has later been reported that Aspen has been sold to foreign interests.
Horty's early experiments resulted in a decade of activity and exploration. It is rather fitting that this epoch should end with the divorce of Aspen and Horty.
6.3.3 The Oxford Experiments
The results published by the Pittsburgh Project had a stimulating effect not only on lawyers in the United States, but also overseas. Starting from the results published by Horty, the English lawyer Col in Tapper (currently All Souls Reader of Law and Fellow of Magdalene College at Oxford University - associated with the London School of Economics and Political Science) entered upon his series of experiments with case law retrieval - which has become known as the Oxford Experiments (cfr Tapper 1973:176-182 for his own summary of these experiments, and Haft 1970:143-144).
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The experiments focused on retrieval problems in respect to case law. Horty's early work had been restricted mainly to statutory material, and there are some distinct differences in legislative and judicial texts which do cause somewhat different problems. For instance the language of case law is more redundant and more specific, the obvious document unit (one decision) is not as semantically homogenous as the obvious document unit of statutes (one section) etc.
The value of Tapper's experiments are twofold: Firstly, the results he arrived at are of importance in themselves. Secondly - and in retrospect more important - is the attitude which Tapper brought into the field, namely that of a critical and scientific inquirer examining the basic problems of designing reliable tests for information system performance.
His dismissal of using manually compiled indexes may serve as an example: When creating the indexes, sampling proved that the inconsistency both between different indexers indexing the same decision and the same indexer indexing the same decision at different times and in different contexts was too great to give an appropriate basis for performance tests - cfr Tapper 1973:121. Another example is the question on what basis the comparison should be made. The data base of a computerized system may be specified precisely, while this is seldom so in respect to a conventional user situation (cfr above at sect 3.5.3 (2)). If the manual search is restricted to the legal sources made available through the computerized system, the character of the conventional search is completely altered - and the comparison will be of a correspondingly reduced value. Cfr Tapper 1973:169-170.
The Oxford experiment situation was complicated by the practical problems posed by text processing in relation to the computer equipment available in the early sixties. The main objectives of Tapper's experiments were to compare the performance of computerized and manual retrieval, and system performance using authentic text and abstracts.
Considering the average recall and precision of all the questions in the experiment, Tapper found that of a total of 175 relevant documents, 100 (49 per cent)
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were retrieved by conventional methods, while 144 (70 per cent) were retrieved by the computer. On the other hand, by conventional methods altogether 109 documents were retrieved, of which 100 were relevant (92 per cent), while 496 documents were retrieved by the computer, of which 144 (29 per cent) were relevant. (Cfr Tapper 1973:179-182 for comments and analysis of the results.)
One of the problems of estimating performance is the establishment of which documents are relevant. In his experiment, Tapper was able to establish relevance criteria completely independent of the experimental environment by using citations - for instance: a question framed on the basis of decision A. Then both decision A and decisions citing A or cited by A will be relevant in respect of the question.
It should be noted that Tapper is still very much active within the field of computers and law. In the beginning of the 1970ies he carried out some valuable surveys for the Committee of Legal Data Processing of the Council of Europe, which facilitated for European organizations the sharing of experiences made in the US. He has published several books on computers and law, and his Computer Law, concentrating on substantive law, is an acknowledged standard survey of the area. Also, he has continued his experiments working on the possibilities of using citation vectors for retrieval of case law, an experiment partly carried out in cooperation with the Norwegian Research Center for Computers and Law - cfr Tapper (1982).
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6.4 A profusion of projects
In the previous sections, a few outlines have been sketched, suggesting how legal information systems were initiated and developed. These outlines do not, however, describe in detail the profusion of projects which followed in the tracks of Horty and other pioneers of the 1950ies.
Tapper reports (in 1963:132) 28 different concurrent projects in the field of legal information systems. A survey of the World Peace Through Law Center in 1966 lists about 40 projects, cfr Presten 1971:17. Several US universities initiated projects within the field of legal informatics - for instance the George Washington University (professor John Lyons), the Western Reserve University, and Stanford University. (In the early 1970ies Stanford had a Law and Computer Fellowship under the Computer Study and Research Program, later discontinued, but in which prominent persons like Colin Tapper, Susan Nycum and L Thorne McCarty took part). In 1967, the Third World Conference on World Peace Through Law was organized in Geneva, featuring an exhibition on computers and law, and with sessions on legal information retrieval. The World Peace Through Law Center reported on this conference in its first issue 06 the journal Law and Computer Technology (January 1968) - a welcome addition to Jurimetrics Journal (now retitled Law and Technology. In 1970 a third US journal appeared, Rutgers Journal of Computers and Law, published by Rutgers University, New York - later retitled Rutgers Journal of Law and Technology. (For a current review of US journals, cfr below on the national section.)
We shall not, in this book, attempt to give an adequate presentation of the development in the United States, as the subject is evidently too diversified to be compressed into a few paragraphs. Also, a discussion of these projects would presume a somewhat broader perspective than the one adopted in this book. Legal computer applications include much more than legal information retrieval - for instance legislative information systems (which will only be grazed in passing), administrative systems for courts
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and the the criminal justice systems, litigation support systems, law enforcement systems, systems for land registers, deontic systems, etc - not to mention systems for word processing, document construction and office administration developed for the lawyer. We will confine ourselves to highlighting a few examples which we find of interest in respect to the main theme of our book.
6.4.2 Law Research Services, Incorporated
In 1960 a New York lawyer, Elias Hoppenfeld, with some background in computer applications, began planning a computerized legal retrieval system. In spite of the successful results which Horty had obtained with text retrieval systems, Hoppenfeld opted for an indexing system. This was probably due partly to the fact that while Horty's initial efforts were oriented towards legislation, Hoppenfeld was oriented towards the far more bulky case law.
Law Research Services was founded by Hoppenfeld in 1963, and it was very much a one-man business. The retrieval system became operative in February 1964 - probably the first commercial computerized legal retrieval service to be launced. In March 1965 shares in the company were offered to the general public, and all stock was sold out in a few days.
The data base of LRS was cases represented by a set of manually selected indexing terms. The user filled in a preprinted form, writing down his question in his own words. This question was then forwarded to LRS, where an editor (with a background knowledge of the relevant field of law) formulated the search request. Next, the search request was processed and citations to the retrieved cases printed out. The list was then edited before returned to the user - the editor indicating which three cases he thought to be most pertinent to the user's question (a sort of manual ranking). The authentic text of the cases was provided in microform - and the user could get the authentic text of the other cases on request.
The initial scheme was based on a strong interaction within the LRS between lawyers and the computer
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system. The computerized system did all the routine work, while the expertise of lawyers was used to refine both the search request and the final response. A similar approach was adopted by several of the early systems, for instance the Belgian CREDOC and the Canadian DATUM.
In order to establish a closer contact between the user and the LRS, direct access was provided through rented teletype terminals. When the pre-editing stage was eliminated, the user had to be provided with the means of formulating his search request by using the indexing terms adopted by LRS. In order to faciliate this, several manual indexes were produced.
The initial cost for using the system was 23 dollars per question. When terminals were introduced, the cost was cut down to 10 dollars per question, a line charge of 2 dollars, and a monthly rent of 18 dollars, cfr Tapper 1973:185 and Haft 1970:169 at note 711. It is reported that the majority of law firms in the state of New York at one time were subscribers to LRS (Tapper 1973:185); in 1964 there were more than 5.000 clients throughout the country (Seipel 1970:726), and plans for expansion to other states were considered.
LRS did, however, meet severe difficulties. Computer facilities were originally provided by Sperry Rand (Univac III), but the relationship between Sperry Rand and LRS was marred by financial difficulties (2 CLSR 309 at page 313-315). Arrangements were made with Western Union Telegraph Company (1963-1966) to create and maintain a data base and provide telecommunication facilities, cfr Seipel 1970:326. But also this relationship was marred by misunderstandings, cfr 1 CLRS 1002 (Law Research Services Inc v Western Union Tel Co, 27 May 1968) and 3 CLRS 161 (Law Research Services of Missouri, Inc v Western Union Tel Co, 7 December 1971, cfr 336 F Suppl 510).
The difficulties, as reported in 1 CLRS 1002, partly arose out of a misunderstanding concerning the use of an algorithm for generating octal digits employed when addressing the fastrand drums, and as index numbers for the the citation data in LRS' thesauri. Neither were the billing tapes as required by LRS.
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And more trouble was ahead. A suit was brought against LRS, based on the claim that information offered by LRS at the time when public shares were issued, had been misleading. In fact the old trouble with Sperry Rand was at the back of this matter, as the disagreement with Sperry Rand had been understated in the information to prospective shareholders, cfr 2 CLRS 309 (Morton Globus et al v Law Research Services Inc and Blair & Co v Paul Wiener, 2 July 1968).
Lastly, West Publishing Company brought a suit in June 1966 alleging that LRS had copied certain of the West Key Number digest indexes for their computerized retrieval system, thereby infringing various West copyrights, cfr Duncan/Peck 1972:99 and 2 CLRS 984 at page 985. A settlement was reached during LRS bankruptcy proceedings, in which all claims were dismissed, and it was stipulated that all the material claimed by LRS to represent copyright infringement should be destroyed - including the data base itself. It should be stressed that LRS did not admit any copyright infringement, and that this claim was also dismissed as part of the settlement. Furthermore the settlement stipulated that West
"... shall not create and offer for sale to the Bar or to the public a computerized system for legal research identical to or substantially identical to ..."
the LRS system documented during the proceedings. West was not barred, however, from creating an independent computerized system for legal research
"... without using any confidential information obtained from the documents or depositions ..."
made available to West during the proceedings. Cfr 3 CLRS 561 (West Publishing Co v Law Research Services Inc, 25 May 1972).
A related case is Computer Searching Services Corp v Ryan, 2 CLRS 984, 2 March 1971. This is an action taken by West against a subsidiary owned by LRS itself. West claimed that CSSC was "threatening to take over the infringing acts" of LRS.
In spite of the misfortunes descending on the first
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commercial venture in this field, rumors told for several years of LRS moving once more into the market, cfr for instance 1974:23. And one may speculate if the conflict with West did have any influence on this company's own policy in respect to computerized services - which was launched in the mid-1970ies under the name WESTLAW.
6.4.3 RIRA: Reports and Information Retrieval Activity
RIRA did in fact originate within the Internal Revenue Service in 1962, and the departure point was represented by the need for a systematic coordination of the decisions made by lawyers within the IRS. The Office of Chief Council of IRS employed about 650 lawyers (Cohen/Uretz 1968:2), more than half of these were stationed at 35 field offices throughout the country. A number of statutes are administrated by this organization; attorneys of the IRS have for instance exclusive jurisdiction in the preparation and trial cases filed with the Tax Court.
Tax law is of a rather special nature. In most countries - even where the legal system depends heavily upon case law - the tax law is codified, and tax can usually be levied only under the direct authority of a statute. Also, tax law cases may be rather intricate; as Tapper (1973:201) has put it, one tries to
"... exploit quite deliberately any inconsistencies, ambiguities or loopholes. Thus litigation is heavily concentrated on fringe situations. Large sums of money are usually involved, so the very greatest legal ingenuity can be purchased on both sides ..."
In addition, decisions made by the tax administration should meet the standards raised by the principle of equality, a challenge which confronts any public administration. As Cohen/Uretz (1968:3) point out, the IRS
"... cannot be concerned simply with taking the position which gives the best chance of winning the particular case. One of the major objectives of the Service in administrating the tax law is
[Page 268 ]
uniformity and consistency of treatment among similarily situated taxpayers".
We think this is an important observation, and it characterizes a typical difference in the information needs of a public agency and the private practising lawyer. This difference may indeed be one of principle, corresponding to a difference in the standards to be met by legal information systems inside and outside the administration.
The RIRA system was designed to solve the coordination problems between the separate offices and lawyers of IRS. The data base consisted not only of legal precedents (closed cases), but also of pending cases. It is not known how many cases was included in the RIRA data base at any given time, but it is stated that about 14.000 pending cases were entered into the system (Cohen/Uretz 1968:3, Duncan/Peck 1972:26).
Documents were stored as a set of indexing terms. Before the introduction of RIRA, there existed no standard terminology adequately describing the legal problems of a case. A thesaurus was developed, called the Uniform Issue List. This is largely based upon the Internal Revenue Code, and we see that the intimate relationship between the code and the legal problems characteristic of tax law has been exploited in designing a relatively simple, but quite unambigious and adequate indexing language. Also, the indexing terms will be easy to use for lawyers who are familiar with the code. Empirical studies seem to bear out that this type of indexing language based on statutory citations performs remarkable well, cfr Bing 1982b:221-228.
The final index consisted of some 6.000 separate subjects, and was produced in two formats: the Uniform Issue List and a KWIC-format of the same list. The KWIC index gave an alphabetical cross-reference index to the Uniform Issue List and individual tax cases, cfr Duncan/Peck 1972:23, Seipel 1970:276-277.
Each subject was identified by 8 digits and a character string of maximum 55 letters:
1-4 IRC breakdown
[Page 269 ]
The IRC sections did not extend beyond the 8.000 series, and the 9.000-series were consequently employed to represent issues not covered by the code. Cfr Cohen/Uretz 1968:4, Duncan/Peck 1972:23.
Documents in the RIRA data base were identified by a unique 11 digit code, constructed as prefixes and suffixes to the docet number:
(Cfr Cohen/Uretz 1968:5, Duncan/Peck 1972:23)
Somebody has to do the indexing work. Usually this is done by special indexers, but RIRA opted for a simpler system: The lawyers handling the case did the indexing themselves. This was done on a form provided by the system, and updating was done monthly on a computergererated turnaround report, cfr Cohen/Uretz 1968:5, Seipel 1970:276.
In addition, an "abstract" of each case was prepared by the attorney. This was a description of the case and the positions taken by the Government and the taxpayer. This abstract was also updated when relevant changes took place. The abstract was not converted into computerized form, but was microfilmed. When filmed, it was given a 3 digit reel number and this (along with the number of the frame of the first page of the abstract) became the "microfilm access number", and was connected to the case number in the indexes. Microfilm reader- printers were provided at all offices, and hard copy of the microfilmed abstracts could be obtained in a very short time.
Retrieval in the RIRA system pivoted on the manual
[Page 270 ]
indexes. The user might use as retrieval criteria either one of the codes from the Uniform Issue List, or he might choose words from the KWIC index. In this way he might isolate possible relevant cases, and consult the microfilmed abstract to assess their possible relevance and obtain information considered sufficient for his use.
The abstracts were also prepared by the attorneys handling the case. This had several advantages: The indexer already had a deep insight into the case, and could easily produce an adequate abstract. This solution was especially acceptable where no or few formal norms were laid down for the writing of abstracts (norms such as defined language, defined notation, etc).
The intermarriage of computer and microfilm techniques made RIRA an interesting hybrid system, characterized by the simple indexing language - based on the structure of the Internal Revenue Code, and the replacement of professional indexers by the users themselves. This is a solution which is well suited in a professional environment where the users are disciplined through their legal training of relating cases to sections in a statute.
Though tailormade to the technical level of the time of its introduction, we think RIRA is still an interesting example of a system adapted to an environment of different technical solutions. It provides a high degree of flexibility at a modest cost, and the computer is mainly used to produce manual indexes. There are organizations which may find this a desirable quality of their information service, and RIRA may in these cases provide valuable models.
[Page 271 ]
7 CURRENT INFORMATION SYSTEMS
7.1 International organizations
International organizations have played a modest role in development of computerized legal information systems. This role may be said to consist of two parts. Firstly they may develop legal information retrieval systems for their own use, and secondly they may provide fora for the discussion and coordination of the development in the member countries.
As for developing their own computerized services, only the European Communities have launched what from the outside is considered a pertinent legal information retrieval service. There are, however, interesting activities going on within international organizations which might have been given a broader coverage than what is offered in this section.
The 28th session of the General Assembly of the United Nations accepted the Secretary-General's proposal to develop a United Nation Treaty System, cfr document A/C.5/1566 of 29 November 1973. It was reported in 1974 that data from punched cards on treaties 1946- 1972 had been completed, and that tenders for "the programming of the system" had been invited, Report of the International Law Commission to the 29th session of the General Assembly, 26 November 1974.
In addition, it is reported that the International Labour Organization has systems of legal interest, and the World Health Organization - through its European office in Copenhagen - is currently (1983) developing a health law information system. Below, the internal activities of the Council of Europe are briefly mentioned.
As fora, the Council of Europe has played an
[Page 272 ]
important role (below), and certainly the Communities have provided different occasions for experts from their member countries to meet and discuss legal information services - not least through the intensive period when the Technical Study was conducted (see below). For third world countries, IBI is becoming increasingly important.
7.1.2 Intergovernmental Bureau of Informatics
A different type of organization is the Intergovernmental Bureau of Informatics (IBI). This is an independent, international organization with head offices in Rome. The majority of members are developing countries, and only few of the Northern American, Oceanic or Western- European countries are members - the most notable exceptions beeing France, Italy and Spain.
Viale della Civilita del Lavoro 23
IBI has taken a general interest in computers and law, including legal information systems. It has, for instance, published a brief bibliography on informatics and law based on its own information systems AIDS (Automated Informatics Documentation System) of December 1983 (ref 8307). IBI also sponsored the First National Conference on Legal Informations in Mexico through its Carribean and Latin-American regional office, and has convened in Rome expert meetings on the subject.
Also, it has founded in 1983, through its Regional Centre for Informatics Education (CREI), an Ibero-American Federation of Law and Informatics Associations (FIADI). This agreement is subscribed to by participants from Argentine, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Mexico and Spain. Membership is open to all Ibero-American national associations for computers and law. For the time being the secretariat will be at the CREI headquarters in Madrid.
Most important is, however, the role IBI has played
[Page 273 ]
in transplanting the ITALGIURE system from Italy to Argentine. In a pilot project implemented at the end of March 1981, IBI made an agreement with the Italian Ministry of Justice. Through this agreement IBI acquired the right to the text retrieval program ITALGIURE/FIND in its second version for implementation in another country. IBI is to assist in the implementation and translation of the thesaurus of the ITALGIURE system. It will also "as far as possible" ensure that
"... Italian-manufactured data transmission equipment and terminals will be purchased and installed, or at least will ensure that this is done by companies with Italian capital prevailing."
As the rights to ITALGIURE/FIND II is transferred without compensation, this clause may be quite justified.
Argentine was the first country to profit from this arrangement, but further assignments may be made to other IBI member countries. Currently (1983) Mexico considers a similar agreement, but is discussing other possibilities. IBI has issued some sort of a handbook in how to establish a National juridical information system based on this concept (in English, French, and Spanish, March 1983).
7.1.3 The Council of Europe
The Council of Europe has been the main forum for European experts within the field of legal informatics. In 1968, the Committee of Experts on the publication of national state practice in the field of public international law, recommended to the European Committee on Legal Co-operation (CJJ) that a committee of experts should be appointed to study the question of harmonization of technical means of programming international treaties into computers. The CJJ approved of this proposal, which in turn was approved by the meeting of the Ministers' Deputies.
[Page 274 ]
Directorate of Legal Affairs
F-67 007 STRASBOURG France
The new expert committee - which was given the rather awesome name "Committee of experts on the harmonization of the means of programming legal data into computers" - held its first meeting in September 1969. The introductory memorandum prepared by the Directorate of Legal Affairs contains a survey of the state of the art at that time, EXP/Ord Jur (69)1.
The history of this committee reflects the history of computerized legal information retrieval in Europe for the next decade. In the beginning, there were rather outspoken confrontations between the "indexing" and "full text" philosophies - but the disagreement faded away as the systems were developed into versions accepting both athentic text and indexing terms. Nor will it be unjust to maintain that the harmonization problems occasioning the establishment of the committee were not of a critical nature. This was partly due to the fact that the systems created in the various countries were mainly dedicated to the documentation of national law, and that the validity of law is restricted by the jurisdiction of each state In the 1970ies there were no strong feelings of the necessity of an exchange of data between national service providers, nor were foreign users interested in accessing national services. In those cases where the need arose, language problems and lack of familiarity with the legal system would make computerized retrieval systems less adequate as a means for acquiring that information.
The committee recommended certain harmonizations measures as a "Minimal list of headings for computerreadable legal information" for four different types of legal documents - providing some sort of tentative structure which may have promoted some degree of harmonization on the level of document design.
The standards were incorporated into the appendix to resolution (73)23. This resolution also recommended several other activities for member states and the Council of Europe (Albanese/Fickje 1978). One of these was to establish a new committee
[Page 275 ]
"... to keep the state of research and development in the field of legal data processing in Europe under review".
This was a recognition of the vital function of the former committee as a forum for discussions in a field where the speed of development is high, and where the sources of information are hard to come by and are rarely up to date.
The new committee - named the Committee on legal data processing in Europe - had its first meeting in October 1974. It has embarked on a number of studies, but two main results should be pointed out.
Firstly, the Council of Europe (on its initiative, but in cooperation with the Commission of the European Communities) published a study by its consultant, dr Werner Robert Svoboda, on common standards for the command and search language in legal information systems. The study should be appreciated with respect to the "Common Command Language" (CCL) which has been developed for information services available through the EURONET (below). This standard was considered insufficiently developed to accomodate the needs of a legal text retrieval system, and the study suggests some extensions. The study is to be complemented by a further study by the same author on elements of a model retrieval language for the legal user (cfr Fickje 1983:3).
The second important result was recommendation No R (83)3, adopted by the Committee of Ministers 21 February 1983, on the "protection of users" of legal information services. The recommendation sat out some quality standards for legal information services, and also specified which elements should be contained in the contract between the service provider and user. The recommendation governed only computerized legal information services, but it is easily seen that the principles may be extended to (1) non-computerized legal information services, like the services of a conventional legal publisher, and (2) non-legal computerized information services, for instance a medical information system. It was, however, not obvious that such extensions are appropriate - and this has actually made the recommendation somewhat controversial (the draft of the recommendation is discussed in some detail by Oskamp 1983).
[Page 276 ]
The Committee on Legal Data Processing in Europe is authorized to propose symposia as well - and since 1971 a symposium has been organized every second year.
In addition to the symposia, the Committee has since 1975 organized colloquies in cooperation with the government of member countries on various justice administration systems every second year (generally the year in which no symposium is organized).
The Committee has also authorized the secretariat to establish a Register of Legal Data available in Machine-Readable Form. This was intended to be a reference work on European computerized legal services, but is hardly up to date. The register is available from the secretariat.
The Council of Europe has been rather modest in its own use of computers for legal purposes. The original committee was, as its name implied, oriented towards international law, and the Council of Europe has concluded a number of international agreements and conventions. In 1974 these were computerized through the STATUS text retrieval system and the facilities of the Atomic Energy Research Establishment at Harwell (Fickje/Albanese 1978:10). This initial effort, including 96 instruments, have later been updated. A number of national centers have actually had these data transferred (Denmark, Finland, France, Norway and Sweden, Albanese/Fickje 1978:3).
In 1981, the Council of Europe established its own computer service, and started considerations of
[Page 277 ]
establishing a documentation center, based on the decisions of the Commission on Human Rights. In 1982 the Council of Europe obtained a pilot version of the Norwegian text retrieval system SIFT, which has later been developed in parallel in Strasbourg and Oslo. In future one may therefore expect the Council of Europe to take a more active part in not only discussing, but also providing legal information services.
7.1.4 The European Communities
In 1967, a working party within the Legal Service of the Commission of the European Communities was set up to look into the possibility of creating a computerized legal information service for Community law, cfr Bauer-Bernet/Streil 1973:9. The system ("petit CELEX") came into preliminary operation in 1970 (Tapper 1973:283), and since January 1971 it has been available to a limited number of users.
The system is formally known as CELEX, an acronym for Communitatis Europaeae Lex, and today this is a well known name. Formerly, however, it has been discussed under several other names, for instance just the EEC system, the CE-LEX or the database LEX of the Communitiatis Europaeae, etc - Bauer-Bernet/Streil 1973:9. The system has by some been confused with the Belgian CREDOC, Vallet 1968.
SII-CIRCE; DG IX - E4
Community law has several features which gererate problems in regard to an information system. It is a body of law valid in relation to several countries, and represented in several equally valid languages. Some documents, like national case law pertinent to Community law, are, however, readily available only in one language. The "half-life" of a legal instrument within the Community is very short (Bauer-Bernet/Streil 1983:9). This is related to the fact that the level of generality varies considerably - like from decisions on constitutional amendments to
[Page 278 ]
subsidiary rates for pig-feed (Tapper 1973:284). Community law may, in fact, be pointed out as an exponent of what has been called the "trivialization of law" (Simitis 1974:5), an effect of the increasing governmental involvement in social affairs. The short "half-life" has its counterpart in a high production rate of new legal sources. And regarded as a system, the Community law - though young in years - does indeed indicate that it is prone to become the victim of an information crisis, ie a legal system of a detailed nature undergoing rapid change and being relevant for a great number of users in different countries.
The documents are designed with a set of more than 30 fixed fields in six groupes: bibliographical data, text and key words, classification, dates, cross-references and other analytical fields. The exact structure may vary between the different types of documents. The emphasis on the indexing superstructure should be assessed in the light of the special Community situation where the users have different languages, and where in the short term the authentic text of the documents will not be available in translation to all the official languages. In such a case the indexes will serve as some sort of "interlinguistic key" to the documents.
The director of the CELEX organization have been Helene Bauer-Bernet, whose academic qualifications and acute analysis have contributed towards finding solutions to many of the difficult problems - both of a practical and theoretical nature. She has been succeeded by Albrecht Berger, a veteran from the German JURIS project.
Care has been taken to capture the complex citation structure of the material, Bauer-Bernet/Streil 1973:17-18, Streil 1973:29-30. This has made it possible to identify related "families" of documents, and an automated solution to this is currently (1983) being considered, Pirelli 1983.
In addition, for most document types, the authentic text is included. This obviously presents a formidable problem for CELEX, which have a number of different authentic languages - ranging form Danish in the north to Portuguese and Greek in the south. The ambitious objective is to have the data base available in
[Page 279 ]
all languages of the Community, but this has to be realized gradually. Due to the pressing need created by this objective, the Community takes a strong interest in finding more efficient ways of translating natural language texts. Cfr Bauer-Bernet 1980:110-112 for a discussion on the possibilities of automatic translations based on normalized texts.
A system, SYSTRAN, for pre-translations of such texts are in use. And an ambitious project, EUROTRA (Official Journal series L 317 of 13 November 1982) aims at creating a system for automatic translations between all the official languages of the Community within the next ten years. This project is still (1983) in its two year preparatory stage.
Some multilinguistic facilities do, however, already exist. There are some invariant vocabulary of dates, document numbers etc. More interesting, some formatted fields contain descriptor codes which can be transposed through the using of multilingual tables with multilingual "synonyms", cfr Bauer-Bernet 1982:256-257:
Libera circilazione dei lavoratori
Comments are also written in codes following an elementary syntax which may be translated through substitution tables. For instance
M ART 14 DP 01/01/79
may be translated to
Amended by art 14 since 01/01/79
In this and other ways the CELEX systematically includes multilingual features in its services.
Today, the available data base is in French and English. The data base is divided into files and sectors. Below the content is indicated based on Bauer-Bernet 1982.
The legislation file containing (sector 1) the treaties establishing the Community in all official languages except Greek, (sector 2) legal
[Page 280 ]
acts resulting from the external relations maintained by the Community - not yet available, (sector 3) secondary community legislation, and (sector 4) complementary Community legal acts - not yet available. The updating takes place weekly with an updating response of three to four weeks. The file provides the basis of an annual register of current Community legal instruments.
The parliamentary and preparatory activities file containing (sector 5) preparatory documents and parliamentary records and questions submitted by members of the European Parliament to the Council and Commission of the Community. These documents are available only in French for retrospective documentation, but from June 1979 in five of the official languages. The updating takes place monthly following the publication of the debates, and two weeks after the publication of the Official Journal (C series).
The CJUS file (sector 6) containing the decisions of the Court of Justice of the Communities, updated monthly on the publication of advance sheets. There is a time lapse of as much as nine months for publication. However, inbetween summaries with a few particulars are available in a "hot file".
There is also under planning a literature file (sector 10), Bauer- Bernet 1982:21.
In the years of 1969-1973, CELEX based its documentation on the IBM information retrieval system DPS. This system was batch-oriented, and up to eight search requests were run in two daily batches (Tapper 1973:285). In 1973, however, CELEX switched to the IBM text retrieval system STAIRS which was in use until the end of 1978 (Technical Study I 1978:44), and was later used for some time in parallel with a new system.
Community policy favoured, however, a more European solution. CELEX was originally intended to switch to the British STATUS text retrieval system, which was to be further developed to meet the Community requirements and run on an ICL computer used by the court in Luxembourg. Technical Study I 1978:44-45 cautioned that one might be confronted with problems when
[Page 281 ]
trying to use STATUS on such a large data base. Such problems emerged, and was added to problems created by further political considerations. The CELEX implementation based on ICL and STATUS was aborted, and preference given to the combination of the French text retrieval system MISTRAL, which is marketed by Cii Honeywell Bull, running on the Honeywell Bull installation of the service bureau Euris in Brussels.
MISTRAL is quite a traditional text retrieval system allowing a full range of Boolean operators, distance operators, truncation and masking (universal character which cannot be used for the first character or characters), thesauri, etc. MISTRAL is well adapted for the indexing superstructure of the documents, which can be exploited directly in the search request.
Though a reliable and well-developed system, we feel that it is branded by its origin. It is originally hardly developed to handle lengthy documents in authentic text, but rather to handle documents composed by intellectual indexing. Its basic design facilitates the generation of a number of report formats. In our opinion, the system may be characterized as oriented towards bibliographies, and evidence of this is present in its internal structure.
The system was originally developed by the Legal Service of the Commission, primarily for the use of the Commission itself. In 1974, the Council adopted a resolution of developing an interinstitutional system (Official Journal series C 20 of 28 January 1975), and created at the same time a permanent expert group on "Informatique Juridique" (Losson 1983:2). Today, the system is open for all Community services. It has also attracted attention from outside users, and will in the period 1983-1985 be opened gradually as the bases achieve more multilingual documents. Already, over twenty users outside the Communities have access to CELEX (Losson 1983:4).
Outside users were granted access to CELEX in 1980, and may subscribe to the service through Euris, which is a Belgian division of Honeywell Bull, and which offers CELEX through EURONET. This organization is also responsible for the training of outside users. Costs (1982) were 10.000 Belgian francs for annual subscription to CELEX, and an additional 2.500
[Page 282 ]
Belgian francs per connect hour to CELEX. In addition one must subscribe to EURONET (the cost of which varies according to the country, but which generally is quite modest - in the United Kingdom only 20 pounds per year), and pay a registration fee to Euris of 10.000 Belgian francs. The user also has to calculate cost for terminal and modem, as well as communication cost to the nearest EURNET access point.
Host division of
Honeywell Bull SA
Square de Meeus 5
B-1040 BRUSSELS Belgium
The Communities have also taken an interest in the creation of specialized legal information services. The best known is perhaps ENLEX, based on the resolution of the Council (Official Journal series C 139 of 13 June 1977). It has as its objective to supply bibliographical material on all legal sources pertinent to the protection of the environment, on Community, international and national levels. A contract has been entered between the Commission and the Union for Conversation of Nature and Natural Resources (Bonn) and Centro elettronico di documentazione girudica (CED) of the Corte suprema di cassazione (Rome), cfr Losson 1983:5. CED seems to have established contacts with a number of other national centers - CREDOC (Belgium), Datacentralen (Denmark), CEDIJ (France), EUROLEX (Great Britain) and Koninklije Vermande (Holland), Biagini/Parenti/Natali/Tiscornia/Pirrom 1983.
CEDIJ has established a data base of environmental law in cooperation with the Ministere de l'environnement, de Vilmorin 1983.
The objective of ENLEX is to furnish small and medium-sized businesses with a comprehensive legal information to facilitate their operation (Losson 1983:5).
A second specialized system to be launched is known as EWADAT, and will be complementary to ENLEX, giving information on the recycling of containers, etc - cfr Losson 1983:5.
A third such system is known as CADDIA, and was recommended by the Council in 1982 (Official Journal
[Page 283 ]
series L 247 of 23 August 1982), which will have as its objective to document legislation and decisions pertinent to trade relations (Losson 1983:5).
Losson (1983:5) also reports that a service on the Community systems for export and import, and for the establishment and control of organizations marketing agricultural products, is being considered.
In addition may be mentioned the ELLIS project, which is an acronym for European Legal Literature Information Service. This project has been proposed for the Commission by two private companies, European Law Center (which is also behind the EUROLEX system) and Europe Data. The latter company is founded by the major Dutch publishing company Elsevier-NDU and a development bank, Limburg-LIOF. This project proposes to make available secondary sources in any language on the law of the Communities, and would be compatible to existing legal information services. The project does not envision to document the secondary sources in authentic text, but to supplement the system by a document delivery service. Cfr Hainebach 1983. According to Ruoff (1984:12), this project was initiated late in 1983.
The Communities have also in other ways taken an interest in legal information retrieval study. In a tender of 8 February 1977, the Commission invited for the execution of a technical study in legal information retrieval. The contract was subsequently awarded to a consortium made up by Sema Informatique (France), Sicon (Great Britain), SfS (Germany) and Ingenierie Informatique (France). As director of the study was appointed Norman Nunn Price, one of the original developers of the British STATUS system, and later the data base director of EURLEX. The study covered user research, system description, and the development of a specification of a possible new text retrieval system for legal information services. The resulting report consisting of more than half a dozen volumes is a milestone of legal information systems in Europe - though in the end the Commission did not develop the system specified in the study.
[Page 284 ]
7.1.5 EURONET DIANE
EURONET has been developed within the European Communities (the decision of the Council published in the Official Journal series L 100 of 21 April 1975), but is really a consortium of the national telecommunication administrations. It is a packet communication network according to the X-series standards of CCITT, closely corresponding to the French TRANSPAC. It is built around five Packet Switching Exchanges, in London, Frankfurt, Paris, Rome and Zurich. Countries outside the Communities may plug into the network through multiplexers in Amsterdam, Athens, Brussels, Copenhagen, Dublin and Luxembourg.
At present the network covers 10 countries (extending outside the Communities, to for instance Sweden and Switzerland). Some 2.500 user passwords have been issued, and for 1982 60.000 connect hours were logged.
EURONET is designed to give access to data bases, and some 370 bases on 40 host computers are currently (1983) available. The information providers have established their own organization - DIANE - and also a non-profit trade organization - EHOG - under Belgian law.
Of the data bases, some 45 are of a legal nature. None of these are exclusively DIANE data bases, but are national services offered to foreign users through EURONET. The services will therefore not be described in this section, but in the relevant national sections.
A breakdown of the data bases gives the following table (Huber 1983:3):
(The total is higher than 45 as some data bases overlap.)
In 1981 a special expert group was organized, taking the name of Committee for European Legal Intermeditary Service (CELIS). This group considered, in close
[Page 285 ]
understanding with the Commission and EURONET, how best to develop access to foreign services, and pilot projects were considered. In addition, reports have indicated considerations to make CELIS a "legal entity" within the framework of INTERDOC (see below).
7.1.6 World Health Organization (WHO)
The World Health Organization, through its regional office for Europe, has started the development of a current awareness system in respect of national health law legislation.
Regional Office for Europe
The system is based on reports by national representatives on a form developed by the regional office for Europe. The authentic form is not available, as the system mainly is established for WHO to superivise national implementation of its policy, and for current awareness functions - alerting a health law expert in one country to relevant developments within another country.
The data base contained in 1983 approximately 500 documents. These are available at the computer center of Uppsala University, Sweden (UDAC) under their information retrieval system MIMER-IR. This is an interesting system being principally a relation data base system, but having a text retrieval extention which is used for the health law system. Though physically in Uppsala, the work of maintaining the system is done from the European regional office of WHO in Copenhagen.
Almost at the same time as the Council of Europe started its activities, the organization INTERDOC was
[Page 286 ]
founded in a meeting in Brussels 6 October 1969. INTERDOC is an international association, open to lawyers from all countries, with the purpose of promoting the use of information processing in the legal field.
Rue de la Montage, 34 - Bte 11
B-1000 BRUSSELS - Belgium
The organization took a few initiatives in the early 1970ies, for instance in the first international conference on legal informatics (in cooperation with its French counterpart, ADIJ). In this period it published the proceedings of the conference, and also a few issues of an Interim Report.
The organization was rather inactive during a long period, except for a short spell at the end of the 1970ies, when two more issues of a journal were published. In 1982 some efforts were made to awaken the organization, and through a restructuring process turn it again into an active force in Europe. The two main movers behind this initiative are Edouard Houtart, the General Secretary, and Guy van der Beek, the current chairman. INTERDOC has recently (December 1983) announced its intention to commence the publication of a newsletter if a sufficient number of subscribers are found.
[Page 287 ]
In one way Argentina is an exciting experiment with respect to legal information services. In 1982, the Italian ITALGIURE system was transplanted to Argentina by the assistance of the Intergovernmental Bureau of Informatics (IBI).
It is discussed above which role the IBI is developing for itself with respect to national legal information services in member countries. So far, Argentina is the only example of an effectuated transfer. However, no extensive reports on the experiment have yet been made - like reactions to the system by Argentine organizations and government, extent of data base etc.
The system has been implemented at the Argentine opposite number of the Italian Corte suprema di cassazione. The staff of the ITALGIURE cooperated in the establishment of the Argentine system. The Italian version of the system is described in some detail below at sect 7.15. One will notice that the thesaurus is an important part of the Italian system. This thesaurus was translated into Spanish - and it has been reported that this transformation was rather simple.
It will be interesting to follow this experiment in the next few years.
[Page 288 ]
The first time computerized legal retrieval was discussed in Australia, is reported (Ward 1982:162) to have taken place in 1969 at the 15th Legal Convention of the Law Council, where KR Pope presented a paper posing the question:
"How much is the practising lawyer yet aware of the facilities which the computer could provide to assist him within his own profession?"
The development has, however, taken its time, though a project was initiated in 1973.
There has been some interest taken by academics. At its annual conference in 1982, the Australasian Law Staffs Association adopted a resolution that law schools in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea should consider introducing courses in computers and law, particularly in the use of legal information systems (Brown 1983:137).
Professor Francis M Auburn at the Law School of University of Western Australia has taken a keen interest in computers and law. Professor Roger Brown of the Faculty of Law at the New South Wales Institute of Technology has taken an initiative in establishing a Journal of Law and Information Science, which is published annually since 1981.
c/o Faculty of Law
Roger Brown has recently been named professor of law at the University of Tasmania, and has announced his intention to develop his interest in computers and law from his new chair.
[Page 289 ]
University of Tasmania
At the University of New South Wales there was conducted a project jointly with IBM and the Law Foundation. This project sought to develop search strategies and techniques using a data base on trade practices and the IBM text retrieval system STAIRS. The project was terminated at the end of 1977 due to a lack of resources, but IBM retains the data base for demonstrational purposes (Brown 1983:131).
Professional organizations have also taken an interest. There are Computers Law Societies in Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory, the largest being that in New South Wales with some 200 members. The first was founded in Victoria by Julian Burnside, a Melbourne barrister, in 1975. Further information is available from the address below:
NSW Society of Computers and Law
7.3.2 The SCALE project
In 1973, the Attorney-General established a Legal Data Committee to report on the possibilities of establishing a computerized legal information system, especially in respect to the statutory material from the Australian Parliament. The committee reported in 1974, recommending that the Attorney-General should establish such a system.
It was recommended that as a first phase, an interim system should be established which also could be extended to organizations outside the Attorney-General's office. The interim system itself was to be
[Page 290 ]
established in two stages.
Stage 1 - A preliminary system based on material already available in computerized form for the Attorney-General's Department in Canberra and the Office of Parliamentary Counsel.
Stage 2 - An extension of the data base to comprise the Constitution, Acts of the Commonwealth and Statutory Rules, Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory Ordinances and Regulations, as well as cases relating to this legislation and to the law of negligence.
The committee also recommended that a permanent policy body should be established, and in 1974 the Advisory Committee on the Development of Legal Computer Systems was established, consisting of representatives of the Commonwealth Attorney-General's Department, the States and the Law Council of Australia.
This committee worked further on the plans for an interim system, and in 1977 the plans for a pilot project at the Commonwealth Attorney-General's Department was approved. This pilot system was to be limited to government lawyers.
The Advisory Committee also evaluated the available software, and decided upon the British STATUS text retrieval program. This has been found to meet the needs of the pilot project.
The project was becoming known as SCALE, an acronym for "statutes and cases automated legal enquiry" (Ward 1982:165).
The first data base took as its point of departure the 12 volume 1973 reprint of the Commonwealth Acts, for which the magnetic tapes for printing were available. To this has been added the Commonwealth Acts passed 1974-1980, and from 1981 the Acts are added as passed.
The first addition to this data base included the laws of the Australian Capital Territory, using the texts of the pamphlet reprints published by the Attorney-General's Department since 1978.
Further additions will include Commonwealth Statutes,
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Commonwealth Statutory Rules and regulations. The full data base will include all Commonwealth Legislation.
Case law was also included in a data base of Commonwealth Law Reports - the copyright holder, the Law Book Company, waived copyright for the limited purpose of SCALE (cfr Ward 1982:167). The full text from volume 127 will be included, while only catchwords and headnotes will be included for prior volumes. This data base was started in 1980.
In parallel, the Attorney-General's Department has developed a computer-assisted system for consolidating statutory amendments known as Legislation Consolidation System (LCS).
An assessment of SCALE was produced in 1981 by the Attorney- General's Department with a positive conclusion.
7.3.3 Future developments in Australia
In 1981, the Standing Committee of the Attorney-General, comprising the Attorney-General of the Commonwealth and of each of the states, made a recommendation which lead to a decision by the ministers to recommend that systems established in Australia should be "compatible in basic respects". It was also decided that the information retrieval software in these compatible systems should be STATUS (Ward 1982:173). In practise this implies that all government system and all private systems using Crown copyright material licensed by the government shall use the STATUS system.
This decision has been critizised, and it has been suggested that alternative text retrieval systems should be tested at least in an initial phase (Brown 1982:vii-viii). Brown (1983:130) states:
"This decision was forced on the States by the Federal government, itself the only ... user in Australia" of computerized legal information retrieval systems.
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In December 1981 the Attorney-General for New South Wales commissioned a report by Cooley Duglass Associates entitled "A Feasability Study on a Legal Information Retrieval System for New South Wales" (Brown 1983:130, 132). Of some interest is the note in the report that the Crown copyright is the major tool of the government to control any private operator of legal data bases.
New South Wales, Victorian and Federal governments have agreed on a single comprehensive system to be operated by Computer Power Ltd, using the STATUS text retrieval system. Contracts have been let, and this work is now proceeding, with the first stage being the capture of sufficient statute and case law to make a workable test data base.
It is currently (January 1984) proposed to run this system using the computers of Mr Rupert Murdoch's newspaper publishing business in Australia, until such time as independent computers are acquired.
The first tests of the system are expected to take place towards the end of 1984. It is expected that the other States will decide to participate in this project, so that all Australian legal data will be available through a single data base. Because of the large distances involved, close consideration is being given to the costs of users that would be created by the use of the ordinary telephone system for connection to the data base.
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After the WIENER SYSTEM project (see above sect 5.4.4), which did not lead to an operational system, progress in this field in Austria was made only very slowly.
The Federal Ministry of Justice tried to take over the experiences of the WIENER SYSTEM, and - in cooperation with IBM Austria - established in 1974 and during the following years a test data base including penal law, based on the new Penal Code (which came into force in 1975).
This computerized documentation includes:
The data bases are operated on an IBM installation at the Federal Computer Center Agency and are available through the IBM text retrieval system STAIRS/VS.
It was assumed by law in 1976 that the documentation of the Austrian social assurance law (SOZDOC) had to be computerized. The data base was created by the Federal Ministry of Social Affairs, and computer support is given by the Board of Social Assurance Agencies (Hauptverband der Sozialversicherungstraeger). The project started in 1977, the data bases have been retrievable since 1979.
There are three data bases:
[Page 294 ]
parliamentary material. This allows for the reconstruction of the law for any date - an important point in a field of law where statutes are amended at least once a year.
A data base of international agreements and of the legal literature in the field is under construction.
The system is operated on an IBM installation of the Board under the IBM text retrieval system STAIRS/VS.
The purpose of this project is not only to provide a computerized legal information retrieval service, but also to support the drafting in the Ministry, and the publishing of a loose leaf edition of social security law. The data base of the bills are used also to produce the text of the official gazette.
Recent developements. Only recently developments have picked up speed. In 1983 some kind of coordination agreement between important organizations was established. The involved institutions were (1) the Federal Chancellery, which, from an administrative point of view is responsible for the Administrative Court (Verwaltungsgerichtshof) and the Constitutional Court (Verfassungsgerichtshof); (2) the Federal Ministry of Justice (which is responsible for the highest civil and penal court (Oberster Gerichtshof). The agreement concerned the establishment of a decentralized and coordinated data base using the documentation departments of the three highest courts. This implies an annual growth of approximately 10.000 documents.
The system is to be operated on one computer installation (the alternative federal computer center ZAS) using the IBM text retrieval program STAIRS - at least for as long as no better system is available for IBM computers. The documents will be in authentic form. System analysis is expected to be terminated at the end of 1984.
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Two more activities should be mentioned:
The Federal Chancellery has finished the first stage of a project relating to federal law (statutes, statutory instruments etc) which are published in the official gazette (Bundesgesetzblatt) and its predecessors. In this way, a status compilation of all federal statutes in force was established for the first time, and a classified index including all amendments was developed. This index will in the near future (autumn 1983) be available as a data base through the Austrian teletex system. In addition, plans are considered to establish a data base of the authentic text of the statutes from this index.
In 1982 the major legal publisher Manz created a limited company with participation from representatives of the legal profession and a bank. This company intends to offer computerized legal information services, and has also conducted market research and developed a project plan. No details are, however, available on this activity.
Another interesting initiative has been made by the Federal Ministry of Finance. The tax department in cooperation with the computer department initiated in 1982 a project to create a comprehensive tax law data base. This is to include all legal sources of tax law, even ministerial drafts and parliamentary material.
At present two data bases concerning value added tax have been established - one with a sophisticated structure and with extensive use of intellectual indexing, one with a simpler structure, but both including the authentic text.
The further development of this project is not decided. The problem is that one third of the decisions of the Administrative Court relates to tax law. It is difficult to see how this project can be coordinated with that of the Federal Chancellery, mainly because the two projects have somewhat different objectives. The project aims at establishing a system for the assistance of the tax administration of Austria, in order to coordinate the interpretation of tax legislation and the administrative decisions. In order to facilitate this purpose, an interesting "guiding instrument" called a thesaurus has been developed.
[Page 296 ]
The Federal Ministry of Justice is currently establishing a computerized system for land registers interconnecting the relevant departments of all courts. As an additional service to this automated land registry, the Ministry is preparing a data base of court decisions relating to the relevant law. This will in the near future (autumn 1983) be operational and available through the same network as the register itself.
At last a project of the Land Niederoesterreich should be mentioned. As the first (and so far, only) legislative body in Austria, this Land publishes its official gazette in the form of a loose leaf edition (one part for statutes in force, the other for statutes no longer in force). The tapes for printing this gazette has been used to establish a data base operated on an IBM installation at the computer center of the Land administration, and is available through the IBM text retrieval system STAIRS/VS.
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Belgium is an interesting country for several reasons: It has the oldest European operative system, the CREDOC, and its capital, Brussels, is also the site of the Commission of the European Communities. Therefore, important activities centering around the European Communities are related to Belgium as well.
The French-language Free University of Brussels has courses in computers and law, organized by Helene Bauer-Bernet, who is also one of the central figures in respect of the CELEX system of the European Communities.
At the university of Namur, there has been organized a Centre de recherches informatique et droit (CRID) directed by professor Yves Poullet. CRID has concentrated on topics like expert systems and information law. But the CRID has a general orientation, and maintains an interest in the total area of computers and law.
informatique et droit de Namur
At the University of Gent, there has been courses in "Jurimetrics" at the Faculty of Law directed by professor M Storme. Assisted by professor Guy Vandenberghe (who has recently been appointed to the computers and law chair at the University of Amsterdam, Holland), this course has been further developed. At the Business School (Interfacultaire centrum voor management), Vandenberghe directs a course on computer management which includes several issues of substantial law. Professor Vandenberghe has also taken the initiative to the creation of an association for computers and law in Belgium.
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In cooperation with CRID (Namur), a new journal will be launched for computers and law oriented toward the Benelux and French market. The journal will be published in two versions - a French version (Jurimetrie) and a Dutch version (Computerrecht). The first issue is announced for publication in January 1984.
B-9000 GENT - Belgium
The Annales de la Faculte de Droit of the University of Liege has since 1973 published an annual bibliography of Belgian law. The first part of this is an index to the legal literature composed of references and indexing terms in alphabetical order. The second part contains an index to parliamentary and senate documents relating to legislation. The third part is dedicated to agreements resulting from collective bargaining between the organizations for employees and employers.
The indexes for literature (since 1971), for parliamentary documents (since 1974) and the collective agreements (since 1978) are available in a computerized system at the library of the university.
Impressed by the advantages offered by operative systems in the United States, l'Assemble des batonniers de Belgique (which is the union of Belgian lawyers) and la Federation des notaires (the federation of notaries) set up a working party in 1966 (cfr Houtart 1969:16, 1973:21). The report of this group formed the basis of the establishment of CREDOC - an acronym for Centre de documentation juridique. CREDOC became operational in September 1969 - offering its services to all Belgian lawyers and in all fields of law.
Rue de la Montagne, 34 Bte 11
B-1000 BRUSSELS - Belgium
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Initially the service was fully financed by the lawyers themselves, though the Ministry of Justice started to provide some financial support in 1969. In 1967 the total budget was 2 million Belgian francs, increasing to 47 millions by 1977 (cfr Houtart 1978:3 at note 1). Currently CREDOC is self-supporting, excepting a contribution of 500.000 Belgian franc annually from the Federation des notaires.
The original retrieval programs were developed by the Paris firm Information rationelle, which also had a hand in the retrieval program for the Barreau de Paris which was demonstrated in the fall of 1968, cfr Kornerup 1969:6. They were later, however, radically redesigned by CREDOC's own staff, cfr Prestel 1971:66.
The computerized system of CREDOC is based on intellectual indexing. The documentary unit is one section of a statute, one decision, one article of legal literature, etc. These documents are then described through an indexing language.
The main components of this language are represented by the descriptors (descripteurs) contained in a thesaurus with more than 7.000 entries (Wallemacq 1974:2). In addition, the documents may be characterized by modifiers - 100 ante-descriptors (facettes), and 780 post-descriptors (specificateurs), cfr Houtart 1978:8. Combining the different types of indexing terms, a great number of concepts may be specified - numbers in the range of 60.000 are indicated (cfr Houtart 1978:8).
The thesaurus lists the indexing terms in both French and Dutch, the two official languages of Belgium. To some extent, also German terms are employed. The terms are specified as a four-digit code, which is identical for all languages. This code makes the indexing independent of the language of the authentic text, a point given high priority in the Belgian bi-lingual society.
In addition to the flat listings of indexing terms, CREDOC has developed hierarchical structures (rapports paradigmatiques) showing the relationship between indexing terms, cfr Aars 1971:9. These structures are used to broaden or narrow down search requests. It is, of course, rather time-consuming to
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create these structures, and Prestel (1971:61) reported at the time that about half the time of the CREDOC indexers was used to elaborate indexing structures.
The indexing is done by lawyers on the CREDOC staff. Originally, the analysis of documents was limited to title and abstract, but was later widended to embrace the whole of the authentic text, as the title and abstract were found not to give an adequate understanding of the source (cfr Prestel 1971:58). An example of a completed analysis form is given by Prestel 1971:59, and the form itself is discussed by Wallemaq 1972.
The main reasons for choosing a representation as indexing terms, was the necessity of bilingualism and the cost factor (which has changed in favour of authentic texts during the 1970ies). Also the risk of precision failure is mentioned by Houtart (1978:5). However, this is certainly no cause of performance failure in general or in principle more predominant in systems based on authentic texts than in indexing systems.
CREDOC's objective is to cover all Belgian law. Its data base is divided into several libraries:
BLEX covering titles, indexing terms and references to all legal instruments published in Moniteur Belge since 1980 updated twice monthly;
BJUS covering 55 Belgian legal journals since 1968 updated monthly,
ORBI is a computerization of a system of the Ministere des relations exterieures, which, since 1960, has analysed systematically some 700 legal journals from altogether 120 countries;
NLEX is a data base of Dutch legislation in authentic text prepared in cooperation with the Dutch publisher Vermande en Zonen, which is again contracted by the Dutch parliament;
CORALIE is developed with funds from the European Community for legislation on additives to food in all Community countries, currently (1983)
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comprising French, Italian, Belgian and Dutch legislation;
LJUS is a data base of Luxembourgian case law from the constitutional court prepared on contract with the Grand duche du Luxembourg.
The updating response is generally one month, but efforts are being made to shorten it down to a forthnight (cfr Technical Study II 1977:5).
The questions were originally put to CREDOC in much the same way as a document was entered. The user did not interact directly with the computerized system, but contacted a CREDOC staff member. The question was then transformed into a search request using appropriate indexing terms combined by Boolean operators. A further sophistication was a retrieval strategy known as ponderation, in which indexing terms are eliminated one by one through a predecided sequence, giving results of ascending generality - some sort of simple ranking function.
Examples are given by Prestel 1971:63-64, Houtart 1973:8-11 and Aars 1971:19-22.
Originally, the search requests were processed in batch runs. Response time was 4-12 days in 1970, but has since been reduced. In January 1971, CREDOC purchased its own Honeywell Bull 115 General Electric computer, which corresponded closely to the one formerly used on a service bureau basis. From then on the system was run once or twice a day instead of twice a week. Response time consequently dropped to about one day. In January 1974, the system became operational on an IBM 370/125 belonging to the company Administra, Brussels (cfr Wallemaq 1974:3, Technical Study II 1977:2). In 1977 CREDOC was using TRANSAC minicomputers locally, and was accessing the IBM computers of the Ministry of Economics for retrieval (cfr Technical Study II 1977:2).
The user received the results as a list of references, accompanied by a short commentary indicating the probable solution to the original question. CREDOC does not generally supply the authentic text of the documents (which is not part of the stored documents), but will on request supply photocopies as an additional service. If the user so desires, CREDOC
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will also undertake to translate the sources (cfr Houtart 1973:4).
In 1976 CREDOC is reported to have processed approximately 3.000 search requests. Of these 51 per cent originated from notaries, 31 per cent from lawyers, 12 per cent from universities, and 6 per cent from legal authorities and others (cfr Technical Study II 1977:2).
From the beginning of 1978 CREDOC made searching facilities available to end users through the IBM text retrieval system STAIRS (this did not imply that the old document design was abandoned, only the introduction of true on-line retrieval). From the end of 1980, all data bases are accessible by dial-up terminals. The CREDOC service is available through BELINDIS, which is an organization established by the Ministere des affaires economique, which also distributes services from other types of computerized services (cfr Houtart 1982:56-57).
Anybody may obtain a password to the service free of charge, and pays monthly on the basis of connect time, currently (cfr Houtart 1982:57) 2.500 - 4.000 Belgian franc per hour.
CREDOC was the first European system to be implemented as an operational service, and has been very important and widely discussed. Much of the early assessment of the performance of computerized retrieval was based on CREDOC experience.
In 1969, in its first period of operation, the questions of 50 selected users were analyzed. Of the 347 questions put to CREDOC by this group, it was found that for 187 questions (54 per cent) the responses were adequate, for 55 questions (16 per cent) the answers were inadequate, while for 105 questions (30 per cent) the data base at this time was insufficient, cfr Le CREDOC 1969:28.
At this time, CREDOC supplied additional conventional research to compensate for a too small data base. In 1969, when CREDOC started operation, only 10 per cent of the documents retrieved was part of the data base, but in the beginning of 1977 this had increased to 87 per cent, though searches were still being supplemented by
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libraries, correspondents, etc (Technical Study II 1977:4).
The main cause of inadequate responses was lack of appropriate indexing during the initial period, cfr Prestel 1971:65. A later test (December 1970) gave the more satisfactory result of 85 per cent adequate responses, cfr Aars 1971:10, while the corresponding figure in 1977 was 87 per cent (cfr Houtart 1978:5). It should be clearly understood, however, that these tests concern mainly the performance of the CREDOC document design (indexing) rather than a computerized legal retrieval system.
A very interesting experiment was the comparative test conducted by Prestel 1971b), in which a set of ten identical questions were posed to CREDOC and the experimental Swiss system CONTEX (cfr below in the section on Switzerland) based on the authentic texts of the documents. In this test, the differences in the two approaches were demonstrated, cfr for instance Prestel 1971b:54, where it appears that of a total of ten questions, there were retrieved 18 important ("wichtige") documents by CREDOC, and 42 by CONTEX; 2 interesting ("lesenwerte") documents by CREDOC and 32 by CONTEX; and 2 irrelevant documents by CREDOC and 10 by CONTEX. It should to be stressed that the test results may be explained by other factors than just the difference in basic document design. Though more than ten years old, the comparative test of Prestel is one of the very few examples of attempts at comparing performance of different legal information retrieval systems.
An appraisal of the CREDOC system cannot be based on such figures as cited above from the early period of the work. When the Belgian lawyers set out to solve their research problems, they had to operate within a number of restraints. Firstly, they had to develop a completely bi-lingual system, which hardly favoured a solution based on authentic texts in the late 1960ies. (An interesting discussion on the problems and possibilities posed by the bi-lingual approach is provided by Houtart 1972.) Secondly, the computer available was rather small, making the storage of big volumes of text rather difficult. And finally it was the question of costs - one felt that both input and processing would be less expensive if just a concentrate of the authentic text were being used.
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CREDOC also supplies some associated services, like the preparation of certain indexes which are published, a register of wills, etc. Its services are also available to other legal information retrieval systems - and for a period, CREDOC assisted the system of the European Community in document preparation.
CREDOC is still to a large extent branded and buoyed by its origin; a tool created by the legal profession to satisfy its own needs, and consequently as a rather down-to-earth service which is practical and which has been in operation for a long time.
In 1976, the Ministerial Committee of Data Processing, authorized the Ministry of Justice to carry out a preliminary study to determine whether a computerized legal information system should be established. Based on this report, the Ministerial Committee decided 5 October 1978 to start the implementation of the system known by the name JUSTEL.
Originally the system was named BELJUS. It was felt, however, that this might too easily be confused with the data base BJUS of CREDOC, and therefore the name of the system was changed in the summer of 1983.
The objective of the system is to establish within a ten years period a data base of (1) legislation (statutes, regulation, etc) in authentic and current form in the language of its publication - French, Dutch or both, dependent upon the context. An extension into German (which is spoken in parts of Belgium, but which is not an official language) is considered. (2) All titles (both French and Dutch) published in the Moniteur Belge since 1900; (3) case law - summaries since 1945.
For the status at the end of 1983, see van Osternrijk/de Kleermaker 1983:3-4 and BELJUS 1983.
The legislative data base has been established
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for social law and the judicial code, a total of 5.383 documents of which 4.098 were available in the spring of 1983.
The case law data base has been established for decisions by the Cours du travail and Cour de cassation, a total of 16.000 abstracts of which 15.025 were available in the spring of 1983. The system includes unpublished cases made available directly from the courts.
The index data base has available 55.000 titles since 1966.
There is also a bibliographical data bank in which abstracts for approximately 56.000 entries supplemented with bibliographical information has been prepared.
For updating, a link with the printing office of the Moniteur Belge has been established.
The documents are designed with a superstructure of indexing terms to facilitate both retrieval and selective dissemination. Description of document designs for the three data bases, may be found in van Osternrijk/de Kleermaker 1983 appendix I, II and III.
A point of interest is that the fields containing the names of the parties, the judge, the rapporteur and the public prosecutor or attorney general are not accessible for users, from data protection considerations. An additional GOLEM password is necessary to access these - cfr van Osternrijk/de Kleermaker 1983:6.
Retrieval is carried out by the Siemens text retrieval system GOLEM, also used in the German JURIS system, running on a Siemens 7760. Though the German mnemonics are retained internally, users may have responses in either French or Dutch.
Auxilliary programs to facilitate updating, management etc is reported to have been developed by the Ministry of Justice (cfr van Osternrijk/de Kleermaker 1983:4). These include programs for transformation of synonyms to unique words, verbs to infinitives and plurals, genders and casi to the masculin singular (when appropriate), BELJUS 1983:II.7.
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The JUSTEL system is established by the computer center of the Ministry of Justice (Service generaux, Service informatique juridique) of the Ministry of Justice in Brussels, using two Siemens computers (7760 and 7738). In 1983, 12 terminals were connected to JUSTEL. In the summer of 1983 the system was gatewayed to the BISTEL (Belgian information system on teletex) videotex system of the central administration, giving access to the system from 110 terminals in Brussels and the provinces.
The system is open to any lawyer, and is designed for compatibility with the Belgian PTT's videotex system.
The relation between JUSTEL and CREDOC is not commented upon in the sources available to us. Obviously, the Ministry of Justice found it appropriate to make available a legal information service based on the authentic language of the legislation, and comprising some important sources - in this way supplementing CREDOC's services. It is reported that JUSTEL expect to have CREDOC as a client (Technical Study I 1978:51), and one may expect some sort of cooperation.
The Belgian publisher Samsom, through its subsidiary Samsom Datanet, has included in their fiscal data bank all fiscal decisions by the Belgian appeal courts and the Cour de Cassation. At 1.1.1984, the banks included decisions from 1982-83, and at the end of 1984 it is planned to be extended to 1979-81 as well as the decisions of 1984.
Avenue Louise, 485
B-1050 BRUSSELS - Belgium
The documents are stored in authentic text, and the language may be Dutch, French or German. Each document is supplemented by an abstract in both Dutch and French, and by indexing terms.
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The data bank will also include questions in the parliament, administrative circulars, decisions by the cabinet or ministries (the latter only in abstract form).
Updating takes place each forthnight, and decisions are available 4-6 weeks after they are made. The tariff structure is not yet (February 1984) final, but the subscriber is currently charged 5.000 Belgian francs per hour connect time.
The system is operated on an IBM 4341-II, using the IBM text retrieval system STAIRS with a Common Command Language (CCL) user interface.
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Brazil is also a federal country with 21 states, 4 territories and the federal area of Brasilia. It was realized early that a better legal information situation could be achieved by using computerized systems.
In 1972, the Processamento de Dados do Senado Federal - PRODASEN - was founded as a computer center for the federal senate, one of the two chambers of the congress. The objective of the system was mainly to assist the congress, and the first of the computerized services of PRODASEN was SICON, the Sistema de Informacones do Congresso Nacional (Ribeiro 1977).
Coordenacao de Informatica do PRODASEN
BRASILIA - Brazil
The system was implemented on IBM hardware, using the IBM text retrieval program STAIRS. This program is actually used in numerous legal information retrieval services, but the PRODASEN installation of 1972 is probably the earliest example of a legal application.
The data base of SICON has a number of files. The files concern debates in the congress, abstracts from journals, projects of the congress, information on representatives like the bibliographies of senators and the general organization of the federal administration.
Three of the files are of special interest to legal information retrieval:
[Page 309 ]
The authentic form of the documents is not entered, rather bibliographical data and indexing terms are used.
In the system outside SICON are also a few relevant files, for instance the "Sistema de projetos e comissoes", in which the file MATE (Materias em Tramitacao) contains information on legislative material.
A statistical exerpt from May 10th, 1977 shows that 73 users logged on to the system, using it for as much as 982 sessions. This would, however, also include a number of files of a non-legal nature. The most recent information (1982) indicate that there are 116 terminals within the different agencies of the congress, 29 external users in the capital of Brasilia itself and 13 external users in the rest of Brazil. Not all of the PRODASEN files are accessible for any user, but such restrictions are not in force with respect to the legal files mentioned above.
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One of the interesting aspects of Canada, is the role played by policy considerations in the development of computerized legal information services, and the way in which such services have been seen as part of a national legal information system. As early as 1970 the Department of Justice appointed a special "jurimetrics advisor" - Stephen Skelly, who was partly responsible for introducing one of the pioneer legislative information systems in the province of Manitoba - his colleague being Richard Morgan, currently the Computer Development Officer to the House of Commons and the House of Lords, United Kingdom.
Early studies were conducted - the first, known as "Operation Compulex" (Lang 1972) and published by the Department of Justice, covered all Canadian lawyers. The second one covered only the lawyers in the province of Quebec and was conducted by Jaques Boucher and Ejan Mackaay (published in 1973), followed up in 1979 by another Quebec survey by Mackaay (1982). Also more theoretical studies were undertaken, in particular the critical Slayton report (1974a) on legal information retrieval systems, as well as his report on deontic systems (which he calls "radical computer use in law"), Slayton 1974b.
The universities have also been heavily involved. The DATUM project of QUEBEC evolved out of Universite de Montreal, with professor Ejan Mackaay as an enthusiastic sponsor. Mackaay later became the first director of the more general SEDOJ, which again developed into the present SOQUIJ with a general responsibility of legal information systems in the province, both traditional and computerized. He is now back in his chair at the faculty of law, being active in the area of computers and law. The QUIC/LAW system, which has developed into the nationwide QL Systems, was derived from the enthusiasm of professor
[Page 311 ]
Hugh Laword and his colleagues at Queen's University, Kingston.
A very important step was taken through the establishment of the Canadian Law Information Council (CLIC) in 1973. This non-profit organization was formed by the Department of Justice, the Law Societies and the provincial governments. In principle this is a private non-profit organization, which also demonstrate a fair amount of independence in respect of the governments, both federal and provincial. CLIC became fully operational with a permanent staff as late as 1975. In 1973-74 its budget was 20.000 dollars, in 1979-80 it had increased to 826.000 dollars.
161 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5J2
The CLIC organization has 52 members (1980), and is governed by a board of 15 governors, appointed in order to get a geographical and cultural representativity. Such a balance is not easily achieved in a country with both French and English as official language, and both a common and a civil law system - some common law lawyers speaking French, and some civil law lawyers speaking English.
There are four divisions, one of them is named "Computers and the Law Division" and is run by a specially appointed director. (The first director, M Anne Foster, was in 1982 succeeded by Allan Kling). A number of committees have been established, among these a committee on "Computers and the law". CLIC has, however, also a general responsibility with respect to the traditional legal information services.
The organization attempts to maintain contacts to the legal publishers - and this, we understand, is a relation which from time to time presents some problems.
The friction lies in the fact that CLIC has been perceived as an organization seeking to interfere in, perhaps even regulate, the private sector. Private corporations seek to avoid government interference, and CLIC is seen as being able to call on government if its aims are not
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met by the private sector. This has, however, never been put to the test.
Mackaay reports (1978:16-17) that CLIC was unsuccessful in having a release of copyright necessary to establish a computerized system on existing case reporters. A hesitant recommendation of launching an experimental system based on abstracts was given, which was thought modelled on the service bureau scheme adopted by DATUM of Quebec (see below), and to open in Toronto, which had the largest population of lawyers. It was after this that Canada Law Book Ltd purchased a "substantial interest" in QL Systems.
CLIC has taken an active part in the development of computerized services. Most of these activities have been performed in relation to QL Systems, but there has also been initiatives to have this service evaluated with the view of arriving at a better and more unified computerized legal information service. In 1980 CLIC published a report titled Looking Both Ways before we cross the Street, reviewing world developments and relating them to the Canadian experiences. Emphasizing the reliability of QL Systems, the report also pointed out that (Foster 1982:47):
"... the system was ageing, and that insufficient resources were being spent on long-term planning for its upgrading into the next generation of retrieval systems."
CLIC proposed the appointment of a committee to investigate the feasability of a single computerized legal information retrieval network for Canada, a project known by its acronym CLIN. CLIN had representatives of both the government and the private sector in addition to CLIC. In 1981, this committee embarked on a major fact- finding operation in order to determine the properties of such a system that adequately met the needs of Canadian users. Skelly (1983:6) reports that there arose "significant conceptual differences" among the participants, and during 1982, an impasse had been reached - though discussions for possible future cooperation are still taking place.
Another exciting study of CLIC focuses on the possibilities of using the data base of a text retrieval system (the data base of QL was used for the pilot study) for generating aggregated data on court
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activity and trends. It is indeed interesting to see explored the possibility of satisfying some of the needs for statistics through a text retrieval data base, and there are few examples of this having been attempted (cfr Rees-Potter 1983 for a discussion of the experiment).
No journal within the field is published in Canada, but the US Law and technology does actually have Canadian editors. Also, CLIC publishes a number of relevant reports and papers. CLIC is expected soon to release Dossier, a survey of research in progress in the law.
7.7.2 Quebec: From DATUM to SOQUIJ
DATUM is an acronym for "Documentation Automatique des Textes juridiques de l'Universite de Montreal", which was a joint research venture of the law faculty and the computer center, intended to provide the legal profession as a whole with a computerized and bilingual case law retrieval system. The project was initiated at the end of 1968, and was from the beginning managed by professor Ejan Mackaay of the law faculty.
The retrieval system was inspired by Horty's design of a text retrieval system, but was developed from scratch by the DATUM team (cfr DATUM 1970). The search language was rather simple, including a full spectrum of Boolean operators and positional logic, cfr Thibault-Iezzoni 1971. Special interest is still associated with the innovative, bilingual thesaurus structure, cfr below. The system was originally implemented on a CDC 6.400 computer, and operated then in a batch mode. Its search language was based on Boolean logic, and results generally presented as a case reference followed by key word abstracts and extracts from the authentic text with search terms highlighted (a KWIC format), cfr Mackaay 1976:16.
In May 1971 a small scale test was performed on 254 decisions of the Quebec Court of Appeal (Queen's Bench, 1951). The results were sufficiently encouraging to warrant the moving towards a bigger data bank, and to launching a service in principle
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available to all Quebec lawyers by the end of 1970. Since July 1971 the system became operational on a data base of 140.000.000 characters, cfr Mackaay 1973:104, representing about 15.000 cases included in the three most utilized series of case reports in Quebec, the reports of the Supreme, Appeal and Superior courts from 1975 to date (for the period of the operation of the system). Legislation was not included, but another Quebec project - Modul/Deploi - at the Universite Laval, consentrated on this type of legal sources, cfr Goulet/Houle/Leclerc-Houde 1971. This project resulted in the system which the Editeur Officiel of Quebec currently uses for publication and updating of the statutes of the province, cfr Mackaay 1982:529.
In the beginning DATUM offered its services to the private lawyer - a total population of approximately 6.000 lawyers and notaries within the Quebec jurisdiction. It became apparent that the cost of the service could not be covered in this way, and since July 1973 the services also became available to judges and lawyers within the public administration. In return, the government paid a fixed sum to the DATUM project. In September 1973 it was estimated that one third of the Quebec lawyers were customers of DATUM, and the number of questions accepted by DATUM had increased from 1.000 in 1972 to 6.000 in 1973, cfr Tapper 1974:12.
The DATUM system was created to meet the particular needs of the Quebec lawyers, a factor reflected in its design.
The first and major requirement was that of bi-lingualism. Canada has two official languages, French and English. In the province of Quebec, the primary language is, of course, French. Also, the legal system of the province is based on civil law rather than common law. The retrieval system was designed to cope with this complex situation. This is not merely a problem of language, and as Mackaay has pointed out (1971:59) the two legal systems are conceptually incongruent as well.
CLIC has a project to develop a dictionary of French words for common law concepts. Often French lack terms to describe a common law concept, or the French term has civil law
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connotations making it ambigious if applied to common law.
This situation may be found to discourage a text retrieval solution. Other systems have solved the problem by having a common indexing language for both natural languages (for instance the Belgian CREDOC system). DATUM chose to develop a bilingual thesaurus system.
Two types of thesauri were developed, the so called s-thesaurus and the so called g-thesaurus. The latter supplies a grammatical expansion of the word in a search request (plural, feminine form, inflected forms, etc). This thesaurus is rather conventional, and we shall not pursue the discussion of this further (cfr Schwab 1971 for a discussion of its design).
The s-thesaurus, however, is designed to extend a given term into a series of equivalent words or expressions, both in English and French. This is necessary, it was thought, as a lawyer might read both French and English texts without difficulty, but was not able to formulate search request with sufficient ease in both languages.
For developing this thesaurus, the method suggested by Irving Kayton (1966) was adopted. Selected passages from the very cases to become included in the data base were examined manually, and key words or phrases were replaced by synonyms - and this would be a synonym within that exact context. By this method, a great number of "source lists" were produced, consisting of the term originally found in the text and the assigned synonyms. These lists were then processed by a program which, using the word statistics provided by the list, decided when two lists should be merged, and when they should be kept apart as representing two different meanings of a homonym. Thus lists of synonymity in each languages were produced. The source terms were translated, and the corresponding source terms in the other language were included in the first list, creating a unilingual thesuarus with entries in both languages, and synonyms in both languages for any entry.
The reciprocity of the synonym structure was used to group synonyms in two categories - close and less related synonyms. This is to say that if the
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source list for term a included term b, and the source list of term b included term a, there was reciprocity and close synonymity. If, on the other hand, term b occurred in the source list of term a, but not vice versa, term b was a less related synonym to a.
In this way, the s-thesaurus would, for certain source words, list all registered meanings. For each meaning there will be a list of synonyms, organized on several levels: (1) precise translations, (2) close synonyms in the language of the source term, (3) close synonyms to the exact translation of the source term given under (1), (4) less related synonyms in the language of the source term, and (5) less related synonyms to the exact translation of the source term given under (1). The user might select to which level of synonymity he would expand his search request.
To our knowledge, this thesaurus still represents the major attempt to create an appropriate solution for a multilingual text retrieval system. The departure point is important - the substitution of words in context as they actually occur in the material to be stored. In this way, it might be reasonable to hope that the synonymity problem was solved more satisfactory than if synonyms had been substituted in a general, out of context manner.
The legal language is not, however, static, and the initial method does not offer a solution for maintaining the thesaurus. This would have to be done by periodically repeating the procedure, and would, of course, represent an added cost in maintaining the service.
Several similarities may be found between the DATUM design and the design of DOCILIS by CEDIJ, France. This is by no means accidental, the results available from CEDIJ seemed to have been carefully studied by the DATUM project. There were, however, some basic differencies - for instance, the DOCILIS operated with a hierarchical synonym thesaurus, while DATUM settled for a flat structure - cfr Mackaay 1973b:3-4. Other differencies arose, of course, out of the bi-lingualism of DATUM, and different computer environment.
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The second point of principal interest with respect to the DATUM project, was the interface with users. DATUM operated on a service bureau basis. Questions were formulated in writing (cfr Slayton 1974:27- 28 for an example of the forms employed), or a consultant at DATUM might be contacted and the search request formulated in a discussion with the consultant. The resulting output (and several output formats were available, cfr Slayton 1974:11-12 and 29-32 for examples) was returned by mail to the user accompanied by the comments of the consultant. There was also a follow-up session, in which the consultant discussed the result with the user (Tapper 1974:12).
DATUM actually filed their searches for improvement of service quality. If an identical question arose, the file might be supplied once more. Also, elements of earlier searches might apply. In this way, DATUM created - as Tapper (1974:12-13) puts it - a post facto thesaurus. DATUM also marketed hard copy service-dossiers which were mini-indexes of 35 - 250 references on specialised topics like child custody in divorce cases, expropriation, injunction, false representation in insurance contracts, liability of municipalities etc (cfr Mackaay 1978:11). Tapper (1974:12) reported that 23 such packages were sold in editions of 50-200 copies (25-75 dollars - per copy).
The justification of the service bureau model was user needs. Canadian user research demonstrated quite early (cfr Lang 1972) that the legal information situation was least satisfactory in the outlying areas and at small law offices. With respect to such users, it was not realistic in the beginning of the 1970ies to expect that they would acquire terminals, it would have implied a considerable investment, cfr Mackaay 1973:105-106. This is certainly an argument of considerable weight. As we have shown by our model of the user's information situation, availability factors play an important role in determining the coverage of the user-constructed information system. Distance is just one such trivial, but nevertheless an all-important availability factor - capital investment being another. Introducing an improved legal information system that in principle is available all over a country, will have little effect if "distance"
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is just replaced by "high costs". Actually, the users would probably come to be large law firms in central areas, just those users who already enjoyed the better information situation. This type of reasoning seems to be typical both for the Quebec situation and for the Canadian reasoning in general. Therefore it must be fair to say that the rather negative attitude towards the US LEXIS system has been based on a feeling that it would indeed result in a replacement of "distance" by "high costs", and thereby sustain and possibly strengthen the availability discrimination of small law firms and other "small" users.
The service bureau model was, of course, one strategy attempting to solve this problem - it is both an obvious and simple solution. The users did not have to commit themselves to a great investment (a question averaged in the mid-1970ies 35 dollars); the telephone was at hand to contact the DATUM bureau - and a province-wide computer assisted legal information service had been established.
In the mid-1970ies DATUM was reorganized. A Service de documentation juridique, Inc (SEDOJ) was created with professor Mackaay as the first director. SEDOJ was responsible for integrating all the different legal information services of the province, both manual and computerized. Apart from the DATUM project this included the project MODUL (mentioned above) of the Universite Laval, the Quebec law reports and the Mini-Biblex microform service for case law in cooperation with the US company Bell and Howell. In 1974 SEDOJ took on the responsibility of publishing the case law of the province - which since 1892 had been a task of the Bar Association.
In 1975 legislation was passed to establish a provincial crown corporation to take on the activities of SEDOJ - Societe quebecoise d'information juridique (SOQUIJ). Its objective was to continue the publication of case law, increase its quality and in general enhance the quality of the legal information system. This legislation entered into force in 1976. SOQUIJ has a board of 12 members, and has a General Director as head of a staff of some 45 persons (1980). The annual budget was, in 1980, approximately 2 million dollars.
At this time, design specifications for an on-line
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and modernized version of DATUM was presented by Mackaay (1976). Like in the DATUM I retrieval program, the design specifications show originality and imagination. The DATUM II system was, however, never developed - and therefore we shall not discuss in detail the proposed system.
One feature should be mentioned, however, namely the incorporation of what Mackaay calls relevance feedback. In the inverted file each search term is associated with a weight ("relevance weight"). Initially this is computed on the basis of word statistics (the algorithm is not specified in the design). These weights are then used in ranking the retrieved documents. The method is similar to earlier suggestions of for instance Sparck Jones and Salton (cfr Mackaay 1976:31-32). To this is, however, added the idea of "relevance feedback". The user is requested to rank retrieved documents
"... as very relevant (i.e. should have appeared earlier in the ranking), modestly relevant (i.e. should remain there) or not relevant to his purpose (i.e. should appear much further down in the ranking). These indications are collected by the computer during all search sessions and used to increase the weight of the query terms in documents rated 'highly relevant' or to reduce it in documents the user judges not relevant." (Cfr Mackaay 1976:32 - obviously Mackaay has a different relevance concept than used in this book.)
Though ingenious, there are several drawbacks of this method. A problem discussed by Mackaay, is the inconsistency of user evaluation, causing "oscillation" of the weights, and measures are suggested to control this. In our opinion, one would also have problems caused by the lack of a direct link between the "graded relevancy" of a document, and the weight a term should have in ranking. The ability of a term to discriminate between documents in a retrieval system depends heavily on the context in which the word appears. Obviously the word "tax" should carry little weight in a tax law library, while it should be given higher weight in a criminal law library (indicating white collar crime). Though the average example would not be this obvious, the use of a system by users with different areas of interest would introduce a similar tendency to "oscillate" as Mackaay pointed
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out with respect to inconsistency. To this is added the difficulty of getting user cooperation at all - experience should make anybody skeptical to relying on extra efforts on behalf of the users to maintain the system.
These points of criticism should not, however, shroud the main lesson from the DATUM II design. It was felt that a form of ranking should be introduced in the system, as the Boolean strategies did not give sufficient help to find the most interesting documents first. On the other hand, one was unwilling to let go of the well structured Boolean search requests, which in general were satisfactory, and opt, for instance, for the ranking algorithms of QL Systems (cfr below). One tried to find a way of intermarrying Boolean and ranking strategies - and this is, indeed, an objective we think is necessary. Though the method proposed may be insufficient, it is one of the first proposals for such an intermarriage with respect to an operational legal text retrieval system.
As mentioned, the DATUM II design was never implemented, and the batch oriented DATUM I became outdated. SOQUIJ discontinued the system from 30 June 1979. The costs at that time for processing a question was 50 dollars, while the estimated real cost was 250 dollars.
In 1979, SOQUIJ also conducted a major user study based on 746 detained questionnaires filled in by private practising lawyers, company lawyers, government lawyers, judges and academics. The results of this study is presented, for instance, by Mackaay 1982 - and is an example of the care taken in Quebec as elsewhere in Canada for providing a sound basis for the introduction of new services.
SOQUIJ has expressed an interest in moving on to another computerized system, and the alternative of QL Systems seemed at one time an obvious candidate. However, the present development in Canada seems to make this choice less obvious. SOUQIJ has indicated that through a cooperation with the Quebec Ministry of Justice, a retrieval system for Quebec statutory and case law will be constructed. The statutory data base is (November 1983) announced for May-June 1984. This system will be based on the IBM text retrieval system STAIRS (cfr Skelly 1983:3).
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7.7.3 From QUIC/LAW to QL Systems
Since 1961, the Queen's University, Kingston, was engaged on a Treaty Project, collecting and annotating the treaties of the British Commonwealth. About 18.000 (1970) detailed treaty records had been prepared. Since 1967, computerized word processing had been used to amend these records. The Treaty Project became a major activity as treaties for a number of developing countries were prepared from these records - cfr Lawford 1968, Lawford/Latta/von Briesen 1970:3, Tapper 1973:279-80.
The enthusiastic professor Hugh Lawford was a moving force behind the Treaty Project. In 1968 he initiated another project to become known as QUIC/LAW - an acronym for "Queen's University Institute for Computing and Law". Following an exchange of letters in late 1968, IBM Canada and Queen's University launched a study of potential applications of computerized systems for legal information retrieval.
A production organization for converting legal sources into machine readable form was established, and the conversion took place at a high rate. A number of contacts were made with other universities, publishers, etc, to secure material, as QUIC/LAW aimed at growing into a nationwide legal research service. Funding was provided also by the Federal Department of Justice.
In 1972, QUIC/LAW was set up as a commercial system to market its services to lawyers. And the retrieval system offered was of a somewhat different basic design than the other systems of that time, which to a great extent relied only on Boolean search strategies. QUIC/LAW decided to base their system on ranking algorithms.
QUIC/LAW was initially attracted to the IBM systems like DPS (Document Processing System). After Richard von Briesen had joined the team, they proceeded to develop their own text retrieval program, cfr Mackaay 1978:15). The point of departure was INFORM/360, an unreleased program developed by IBM for internal use in the corporate headquarter use in Armonk, New York, cfr Slayton 1974:10, Lawford/Latta/von Briesen
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1970:3. Several difficulties were encountered in the adaption of INFORM/360 for the use of QUIC/LAW, mostly connected to a lack of compatibility in the operating systems. Though redesigned, the basic properties of this program were retained. The program is written in IBM assembler.
Ranking algorithms may be constructed on the assumption that the occurrence in a document of words specified in the search request, is an indication of probable relevance. A simple algorithm would be based on just counting the number of different words in the request also occurring in the document, and sorting documents according to the resulting score. It is easy to see that such a scheme would favour long documents compared to short documents - which again could be compensated by taking document length into account. A general discussion of ranking algorithms of this type, with examples and results of empirical research, is given above at sect 4.5.2 (3).
For QUIC/LAW, quite sophisticated ranking algorithms were developed, taking into account the length of the document, the relative frequency of occurrences within the document compared to the frequency of that term within the data base (distribution of the term), etc. Altogether eleven algorithms were made available in QUIC/LAW (and we believe some of them have survived in the IBM text retrieval system STAIRS, which offer five such algorithms).
Such retrieval strategies make possible what may be called a natural language search request: The user is not obliged to follow the artificial syntax of a search language, but may formulate the request as if he was jotting it down on a piece of paper to pass on to a colleague. This certainly simplifies the user interface, but only at the cost of reduced performance - as the information inherent in the structure is not available for the system.
Boolean operators were employed in the QUIC/LAW system as restrictions. Words in the request might be combined by Boolean operators in order to specify that documents not containing the combination (for instance where only a, not b occurs) should not be considered retrieved, and not be included in the ranked list of documents. Positional operators were originally not available.
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For examples of searches conducted by this version of the QUIC/LAW system, see Slayton 1974:16-17, printouts 33-35, and Lawford 1973:72-93 with rather detailed examples of retrieval strategies and output formats. The QUIC/LAW system was from the beginning terminal oriented, response time reported to be a maximum of 30 seconds and an average of 10 seconds, cfr Lawford 1973:70.
The QUIC/LAW project was conceived as the start of a Canadian legal information system. But only a year after it was established as a commercial enterprise, in March 1973, IBM and Queen's University withdrew their support. The Canadian Department of Justice continued to support the system for a three months test period to measure usage of the system by lawyers, and to assess the feasibility of an expanded service, operated either by the Department or a private company.
The test included 16 terminals located in law firms and public administration (including the Department of Justice) in Ottawa and Toronto. The available data base was composed of Supreme Court Reports from 1923 (145.000.000 characters). Federal Court Reports (6.000.000 characters). Revised Statutes of Canada (33.350.000 characters), and 28.000 bibliographical index records of the Queen's University Treaty Project (cfr QUIC/LAW 1973).
The final report of the test is in its own right a valuable product, but the Department of Justice proved unwilling to prolong its support of the QUIC/LAW project. Rights in the project were transferred to a new company - QL Systems Ltd - set up in Ottawa in 1974 with Hugh Lawford, Richard von Briesen and Canada Law Books Ltd as the original shareholders.
408 Princess Anne Building
And this is actually a new beginning. As QL-system the activity was generalized, and a new form of legal service was offered.
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One of the first ventures of QL was the contract with the US publisher West. The retrieval programs were furnished to West, and formed the basis for their WESTLAW service. The programs are also sold to others, for instance newspapers in Canada and the US.
At the same time changes were made in the QL retrieval programs. A number of these amendments are based on information emerging through the user test (cfr QUIC/LAW 1973:8-9, Tapper 1974:3-4, 1976:9).
The text retrieval, system, now known as QL/SEARCH, includes today expansion to a full range of Boolean operators, positional logic, possibility of phrases as search terms, possibility of saving requests, etc. The original ranking strategy has been retained, but reduced to three default algorithms.
QL systems states that method N "has been found to produce the best results in most cases", which corresponds to the empirical examination of the performance of word frequency ranking strategies discussed above at sect 4.5.2 (3).
QL also terms their useful chronological and reverse chronological sorting a "ranking". For a detailed description, see the QL/SEARCH manual.
The computer facilities of QL - an IBM 4341 - are still based in Kingston, Ontario, and can be accessed by any terminal with a standard communication interface and through the Canadian packet switching network, Datapac. It is available around the clock. The pricing structure have different levels for peak and off-peak hours, and a package pricing scheme is available for terminal, printer and communication for unlimited searching at a flat hourly rate. (Cfr Skelly 1983:4.)
In addition to automated retrieval, QL provides word processing and electronic mail services.
QL Systems plays the host for a number of information
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providers. Most legal information retrieval services own the data bases offered through that service. QL owns just a few of the 65 publicly available data bases, containing approximately 15.000.000.000 characters.
This is reflected in the pricing structure. QL takes a fee for maintaining the data base of the provider, but seeks a contract for opening this for other users. If such an agreement is reached, the provider is given some advantages- for instance the provider is given 50 per cent of fees for usage of this data base. This is deducted in the fee the provider has to pay QL. In addition, the provider may stipulate an extra fee - a "royalty" - for accessing his data base.
Of these 25 are English, and 5 French language legal data bases. Of the non-legal data bases, one contains the authentic text of stories carried by the Canadian Press Wire Service (cfr Skelley 1983:4).
The Department of Justice has supported the development of QL Systems, and uses the system to maintain a data base of federal statutes, updated annually from the legislative information system maintained by the Department itself. The rather infrequent updating seems to be related partially to practical problems, partially to the problems of legislation being passed before it comes into force.
The Department of Justice also maintains a data base of Supreme and Federal court cases. These are stored as only headnotes (in English and French), due to the costs.
The legal data bases as listed 1982, are as follows:
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The Department of Justice has an expenditure of approximately 60.000 dollars annually in respect of QL, which is also used internally by the Department. It is pointed out that the government policy requires the use of private services if less than 20 per cent more expensive than what a public agency could offer.
The statutes of the majority of the ten provinces are also available through QL Systems. Case law data bases covers also the decisions of the superior courts of each province, and some quasi-judicial regulatory boards. Average time depth of these case law data bases is 20 years (Skelley 1983:4-5).
The CLIC sponsors four data bases on the system, paying all storage and updating costs.
A majority of the case law (more than 50.000 cases) is provided by Canada Law Book, a major Canadian legal publisher. CAN/LAW data bases cost 10 dollars pr hour more than other QL data bases. The data bases include Dominion Law Reports, Canadian Criminal Cases, All Canada Weekly Summaries, and the Weekly Criminal Bulletin - in various time depths.
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240 Edward Street
Canada Law Book has decided to make their own service more visible within the QL Systems, and have adopted the acronym CAN/LAW as a trademark for their data bases. They have also hired the former director of Computers and the Law of CLIC, Anne Foster, as their new coordinator for legal information systems.
Canada Law Book has also published aids for retrieval, for example an "Index summary for CAN/LAW" with suggestions for synonyms and a recommended retrieval strategy dubbed "concept mapping" (which corresponds to the recommendation made by Horty and cited above under part IV, and not dissimilar to the conceptor based retrieval strategy discussed above in sect 4.5.2 (3)).
A service known as QL/Mail Box 100 has been opened for CAN/LAS judgments. Through the QL system, Canada Law Books will accept orders for photocopies of judgments noted in the ACWS and WCB data base.
It has been announced that in the future CAN/LAW will be enlarged to contain additional data bases, as well asspecialized services "exclusively to legal research" (Canada Law Book Publication Catalogue 1983). These include on-line index terms for the data bases CCC and DLR, in addition to forms and precedents for use in law offices. These new services will be available in 1984.
In 1980 QL Systems were reported to have approximately 500 users. As a measure to encourge growth, the Computers and the Law Committee of CLIC proposed in 1977 the establishment of a Service Center. Three pilot centers were established in 1978 at the universities of Alberta, Calgary and British Columbia. In 1979, seven new Service Centers were established, and by March 1980 altogether 14 Service Centers had been established. (Cfr CLIC - Service Centers 1980.)
These centers should (1) encourage the incorporation of computerized research in the curricula of the faculties of law, (2) introduce computerized systems to practitioners in a way which made them both
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understand and appreciate the new methods, and (3) the centers should channel feed-back of user needs back to CLIC.
By 1982 more than 5.000 students had participated in courses or seminars (cfr Foster 1982), and additional demonstrations etc had been organized for practitioners, faculty members etc. An important feature of the service has been to provide extensive research facilities to lawyers in isolated rural communities without access to major libraries.
7.7.4 Carswell Legal Publications
Carswell Legal Publication is a Canadian subsidiary of the British major legal publisher Sweet and Maxwell, which are holding shares in the British EUROLEX system. They have announced a text retrieval service in the near future (possibly May 1984), but at present we are not familiar with further details (cfr Skelley 1983:6).
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Denmark is a rather atypical country in respect to legal information systems. It is one of the countries with the longest record of interest in the issue, but hardly with any overwhelming results so far.
The interest dates back to 1967, when the Danish Law Society (Dansk juristforbund) established a committee on legal information services (cfr Korenerup 1970:229). This committee was chaired by Poul Eefsen of the Ministry of Justice, but its main exponent was one of the secretaries, Uffe Kornerup of the Ministry of Justice, who explored the issue in a number of reports, and did also travel extensively to research the then budding efforts in other European countries. Also, the work was buyoued by the contributions of professor Mogens Koktvedgaard, who as early as 1968 published his paper on "notes of the general law of electronics" - a very early paper also in a European perspective. It is fair to maintain that the activity of the Danes inspired and guided work then just commencing in the other Nordic countries, especially in Norway.
Professor Koktvedgaard has also, with the assistance of other lecturers, been able to offer occational courses in computers and law for Danish students. From 1983, this seems to have become a permanent offer.
In the early Danish studies were included an experiment carried out by I/S Datacentralen af 1959, a computer center of major importance in Denmark, operated by the government, the municipalities of Copenhagen and Fredriksberg, the National Organization of Local Authorities and the Federation of County Councils.
The Danish experiment is described by Korenrup 1970:233-237, and was based on the road traffic act, regulations on motor vehicles and some related regulations. The software was a text retrieval system
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mainly developed by Datacentralen for retrieving information from bibliographical services like Chemical titles and Chemical abstracts.
No service was born out of these efforts. The next major step was taken in a four years study founded by the Danish Social Science Research Council. The study was guided by professor Koktvedgaard, and carried out by Sven Karnov - who has documented the results in a series of reports (Karnov 1976-79). The study embraced a state of the art study within the field of legal information services, a user survey, and a limited experiment in cooperation with Datacentralen.
The first report (Karnov 1976) is a report on the state of the art in a number of countries. The second (Karnov 1978) reports on a user survey of Danish lawyers - one of the major European user studies. The third report (Karnov 1979a) reports on an experiment using a trial data base, alternatives form for conventional publishing and the STATUS II text retrieval system. The final report (Karnov 1979b) is recommends the establishment of a computerized legal information service in Denmark.
Again, the effort was quite exceptional in its systematic approach and scope, but - again - the study ended four years later with no concrete results in the form of operative systems.
At that time, however, Sven Karnov went to the Datacentralen, which in 1982 launched their tax information service, DC-jura (cfr below). Also Schultz, a private publishing house, launched its own computerized indexing system, DATA LEX.
These efforts were, however, not felt to provide a satisfactory frame of reference. The Department of Administration and the Ministry of Justice consequently initiated a study on how to establish an adequate organization for appropriate legal information services to emerge. This lead to the establishment in 1982 of Retsinformationsr&det - a council for legal information (after a Norwegian model, which in turn was inspired by the Canadian CLIC model). Chairman of this new Council is professor Mogens Koktvedgaard, with the Ministry of Justice acting as secretariat.
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The Legal Information Council has as its objective to ensure coordination and planning in respect of establishment and use of legal information systems. It should also explore the problems related to the use of new technology. At a later date the cabinet has also asked the council to report on the technical, economic and legal aspects of the establishment of a public service for statutory material - including the possibilities for reducing the number of statuory instruments in the process. The report is expected by the spring of 1984.
Though the two services DATA LEX and DC-jura has emerged, future will probably confirm that the present Danish situation is unsettled.
Datacentralen (which is mentioned above in respect of the early experiments) started the development of its information service within the area of tax law in the beginning of 1981 (Karnov 1983:2).
The area of tax law was selected as it attracts a great deal of attention, and was estimated to have a sufficient potential market. In contrast to many other systems, Datacentralen aimed at giving its service a full coverage within the interest area of tax lawyers. The system was made available to users in 1982, and contains currently 8 files of a total of approximately 100 million characters.
Statutes, notifications and circulars as published by the official gazettes (Lovtidende and Ministerialtidend) and non-published circulars by the Central Tax Administration.
Administrative decisions - officially published decisions since 1970.
Court orders - official published orders from the Tax Tribunal since 1977. A selection of earlier cases has been included.
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Court decisions - all cases on substative tax law since 1982 (digest from Skattekartoteket, see below). A selection of earlier cases has been included.
Assessment Guidance - the guides published by the Internal Revenue Department for individuals and companies (current version).
Quick Index and digests - references to periodicals, literature and decisions of the central tax authorities and the Tax Tribunal. A digest of approximately 12 million characters containing statutory texts and headnotes of cases is being prepared for inclusion.
Bills - from the parliamentary year of 1982-83, all bills and decisions of the parliament on tax law will be included.
Parliamentary debates - the current and last year's debates are contained in the system.
The DC-jura documents the sources in authentic form (and from 1984 also those words initially defined as stop-words are included in the search file).
Most of the files have been prepared by Datacentralen at its own cost, but DC-jura also acts as the host for other information providers. The file containing the quick index and the digest has been made available by a private company, Skattekartoteket. In this way, one has achieved an integrated system for computer retrieval and the production of traditional books.
DK-1045 KØBENHAVN K - Danmark
The ambition of DC-jura is to extend the system to other areas of law (Karnov 1983:2). A time schedule has not yet been announced, and probably Datacentralen will look to the possible revenue of a service before undertaking another heavy investment in data base establishment.
The files are available through a user interface developed by Datacentralen, and designed for IBM 3270 terminals, 3270 dial-up terminals and TTY-terminals. The system itself is, from February 1984, based on the BRS text retrieval system, with all commands in Danish.
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The BRS system is a US text retrieval system reported to be strongly related to the IBM text retrieval system STAIRS, but somewhat more efficient.
The DC-jura is available for outside users, and a flat tariff related to connect time is applied. This rate is (February 1984) 400 DKR per hour.
7.8.3 DATA LEX
JH Schultz printers and publisher is more than 200 years old, being one of the oldest private companies of Denmark. The company has for a long time printed the legal gazettes and a number of other official documents. This has created a need for keeping track of all the different statutes, regulations etc. And in 1979, Schultz converted their index to computerized form.
The index contains approximately 12.000 documents on statutes and regulations, most documents only composed of indexing terms (25.000) and titles, but a fraction (approximately 1.000) is available in full text in the computerized system (Rasmussen 1983:9). Plans for the future imply the extention to literature references and elaboration of the indexing terms.
The system is developed on a Siemens BS2000, using the CODASYL data base system UDS. Initially the user interface was not too friendly, requiring prefixes and being quite limited in flexibility. It is stated that by the autumn of 1983 the interface will permit "full text search" (Rasmussen 1983:3). The system was initially developed as an in-house system to assist Schultz in its service to book-sellers, especially the "statutory information service centers" established by booksellers across the country.
In 1982, the system was made available to outside users. It is reported (Rasmussen 1983:2) that DATA LEX had 120 users in 1983, who were connected to the system on an average of 17 minutes monthly. A tariff structure of three groups (according to monthly use) is adopted, the most favourable ones for users
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connected for more than 130 minutes monthly, the less favourable for those connected for less than 60 minutes. The first group has to pay a subscription and periodical fee, with a connect fee per hour of 267 DEK. The latter group does not have to pay subscription or periodical fees, but the somewhat higher connect fee of 495 DEK per hour.
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Finland is in many respects a remarkable country. It has two official languages, one of them being Swedish, the other Finnish. Finnish as a language is remotely related to Hungarian, and has properties which make text retrieval difficult. For instance words are inflected using prefixes, making the alphabetical sorting of inverted files less effective and the useful technique of right hand truncation problematic. Finland was for a long time united with Sweden, and the Swedish legal system has left an imprint - like for instance the famous principle of public access to government files introduced in Finland at the same times as in Sweden - in the 17th century. Finland maintains close cooperation with Sweden and the other Nordic countries, though their language situation makes verbal communication less of a matter of course than that between Danish, Norwegian and Swedish languages - which are closely related.
Finland did actually start quite early developing a legal information retrieval system. By the autumn of 1982, the then existing Data Processing Committee of the Judicial Administration (Justitiefoervaltningens ADB-kommission) established a working party to explore the possible establishment of a legal information system. A small grant (20.000 Finnish mark) was made available from the Ministry of Finance, and the working party - chaired by the counsellor Heikki Immonen - conducted experiments in Sweden (Hallberg 1972).
As material was used a number of statutes and a selection of abstracts of decisions by the Supreme Administrative Court (Hoegsta Foervaltningsdomstolen), altogether some 640.000 characters. The experiments were conducted using IMDOC.
In 1973, further experiments were made at the research institution for quantitative linguistics in Stockholm (KVAL), aimed at "term- tuning" - ie developing computer-aided methods for achieving a greater degree of consistency between the two parallel and
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authentic versions of statutory law, the Swedish and Finnish version.
The Data Processing Commission reported in 1973, and based on this report a nearly unique coordinated effort for developing computerized systems within the area of responsibility of the Ministry of Justice was initiated. A Data Systems Unit of the Ministry was founded in March 1974 at Haemeenlinna, and this unit has gradually developed a range of different systems. Within their scope of activities, also a data bank of juidicature has been established - FINLEX.
Data Systems Unit
FINLEX is based on the early work reported above, and the core of the system is still the abstracts of the decisions by the Administrative Supreme Court. The court did in 1978 take an initiative for developing a better computerized information system, and the Ministry of Justice once more established a working party, this time with its chief executive, Eero J Manner, as the chairman. The working party presented a general design for a legal information system in 1981.
Currently the FINLEX system contains 6 files (FINLEX 1982).
(1) Abstracts of the decisions of the Administrative Supreme Court have been entered since early 1973 and is supplemented by a number of earlier cases thought to be of sufficient intrest. The core of the file is abstracts published in the annual compilations, but also some unpublished abstracts are included. Entry into the system is decided by the division of the court deciding the case. The document includes a number code developed by the court itself. Most documents are in Finnish only.
This file contains some 8.500 documents, of which 4.000 are related to taxation. An annual growth of 600 documents is estimated.
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(2) The second file consists of the decisions by the Supreme court. It goes back to 1926, based on three publications - two general edited compilations of the decisions of the court, and a special compilation of decisions in divisions of land. These three publications cover the period 1926-79, and in 1982 the court started supplementing the file by entering its decisions directly. Altogether this file includes approximately 8.900 documents with an annual growth of 100-150 decisions. Most of the decisions are in Finnish only.
(3) The third file is to contain decisions by the appeal courts as brief abstracts. In 1982, this was still in planning, and contained only 185 abstracts of decisions by the Helsinki appeal court with respect to rental of houses and apartments.
(4) The fourth file contains the decisions of the Labour court, starting 1981. This system also includes responsa given by the court on request from other courts. Titles are entered in Swedish and Finnish, and a capture of historical titles is planned. Annual growth is 200 documents.
(5) The fifth file contains decisions of the land property court. The file consentrates on recent cases, but some older cases have been included. Annual growth is estimated to be in the range of some dozens.
(6) The sixth file is a case citator, citing all legal literature in the period 1926-1978 where a case has been discussed or mentioned. Not only cases in a strict sence have been included, but also decisions from the responsa and reports of the constitution committee of the parliament and the industrial relations council. The file is based on a Finnish publication, but it is stated that the computerized file will be maintained independently of this.
(7) The seventh file, FINTREAT, contains formatted information on the treaties of which Finland is a party, based on the index of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The index contains some 600 bilateral and 300 multilateral treaties.
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Plans for extension of the system (Ministry of Justice 1983) include the index of the Diet documents through a cooperation between the library of the parliament and the Ministry of Justice. The decisions of the Assurance Tribunal and the legal decisions of the Market Court will also be included. Through a joint working party composed of representatives of the Finnish Law Society (Finlands juristfoerbund) and the Ministry of Justice (with chief of planning, Juhani Ahla as the chairman) an integrated approach for capturing legal literature at the source has been proposed.
Initially, the Swedish retrieval system IMODC was emplyed, but currently the Finnish retrieval program MINTU is being employed. This has not been sufficiently powerful, and in 1982 the Ministry of Justice started experiments based on the IBM text retrieval system STAIRS. In parallel, thesauri are being developed, both a synonym thesaurus (including Finnish-Swedish synonyms), and a systematic thesaurus. A final switch of software has not yet been reported.
The FINLEX system is primarily aimed at the needs of the courts, the legislative bodies, the public administration, the universities and for research purposes. Private organizations or lawyers may, however, subscribe to the system. A final tariff policy has yet to emerge, subscribers have so far paid only for the processing costs at the Government Computing Center, which is operating the system. Subscribers contract directly with the Ministry of Justice.
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French lawyers are renowned for their systematic approach to legal problems, consequently it is not surprising to find one of the international pioneers in the French lawyer Lucien Mehl. He was one of the first to recognize the possibilities offered to the lawyers by the computer (Tapper 1973:196). In the 1950ies he discussed these possibilities in a number of papers. These early papers, however, focused on deontic systems rather than information retrieval systems, in much the same way as in the United States at that time. But Lucien Mehl also became the founder of one of the more important French legal information retrieval services - that of CEDIJ.
Though Lucien Mehl was perhaps the first, he was by no means the only French lawyer to become fascinated by the computer at a rather early date. In the middle of the 1960ies, professor Pierre Catala started his work at the University of Montpellier, which led to the establishment of IRETIJ (see below).
In fact there seems to be a profusion of projects in legal informatics during the 1960ies, Kornerup (1969:2) reports that by the end of the decade, projects had been initiated at 16 different institutions. This is a parallel of the situation in the United States at the time - but the French have been more persistent. Also today there are a large number of interesting projects - stimulated perhaps by the prevailing French policy giving priority to research in computers and computerized services, or telematique.
The French did not duplicate the US projects or solutions. There was a tendency in the US to opt for systems exploiting authentic texts, while in France there has been a tendency to favour systems relying more heavily on indexing. A possible explanation of this diverging development is suggested by Kornerup (1969:2). He points out that the system of legal
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education in France produces a great number of well qualified lawyers available at university institutions, while the university computer centers at the beginning of the 1970ies tended to be of a rather modest size. In the period when most projects were initiated, it was easier to have material intellectually indexed than to have available an adequate computer for the processing of the rather large volumes of data required by a solution based on the authentic texts.
One early and quite interesting experimental project will be briefly mentioned. In the beginning of the 1970ies the system DARIUS was designed to provide an interesting hybrid function, Buff elan 1972. The project was undertaken by the Institut de recherche d'informatique juridique at the Universite de Paris-Sud (directed by professor Jean-Paul Buff elan), but discontinued in 1973. The system was terminal oriented, the user conducted his search through indexing terms. These indexes were displayed on the terminal, and the user employed a light pen to select terms. In the same way, the terms might be combined by Boolean operators.
The documents identified through the search request were retrieved by accessing a microform bank, and the microform representation was scanned by a camera and projected on the same terminal.
This system was originally developed by Pierre Riviere, a civil engineer concerned with the retrieval of maps and images. It is obvious that this intermarriage of computer and microform techniques deserve some interest - which may be enhanced even today when the microform bank may be replaced by a video disk.
A system using a Kodak microfiche retrieval method, permitting simple Boolean search request for the indexing terms represented in Kodak "miracode" on the fiches, has been operated by the Centre de documentation automatisee du droit (CEDAD). The project was the result of a cooperation between three publishers, Dalloz, Fracis Lefevbre and Gazette du Palais, and La Societe Juridique et Fiscale de France. Technical Report II 1978:58
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seems to imply that this would be marketed as a computerized service, but the activity was discontinued in 1980.
There is no French journal devoted to legal information systems or computers and law in general, but an international bibliography is published by the Centre de documentation sciences humaines (part of the structure established by Centre national de la recherche scientifique). Informatique et sciences juridiques appeared with its first volume in 1974, and have since 1979 appeared twice a year. The computerized service based on this bibliography is known as ISJ (FRANCIS), ISJ being an abbreviation for Informations et Services Juridiques. The CDSH uses a special suite of programs permitting the production of bibliographies, selective distribution of information and online retrieval (SPLEEN 1-3) in addition to MISTRAL. Retrospective bibliographies on selected subjects are produced on request. Some 5.000 documents are currently available, Barbet 1982:40-41.
sciences humaines (CDSH)
One should also emphasize that CNRS has supported a number of pertinent and relevant research activities, for instance the research of Daniele Bourcier on the legal language and its implications for legal information retrieval systems. An experiemental system drawing on such research, and relying on computational linguistics, SPIRIT, is briefly discussed above at sect 5.3.2.
Actually, the development in France started in 1967-68 with - among the other initiatives - a working group which published a study titled "Pour une organisation nationale de l'information juridique". This national organization was not realized, but the group felt that the great number of rather independent projects were apt to divide the resources within the field of legal informatics - to a greater extent than was desirable, some thought. In order to achieve a better coordination between the different projects, the organization ADIJ (Association Francaise pour le development de l'informatique juridique) was founded in 1970 (Barbet 1978:1). This would not seem,
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however, to have had the desired effect - though some of its activities are reported on by Barbet 1978:19-20.
Barbet complains (1983:12-13) of the unsatisfactory publication ratio of data bases both in time and jurisdictions, and (1982:45) observes:
"On constante un certain nombre de sources memorisees plusieurs fois; c'est le cas notamment des lois et des arrets publics de la Cour de Cassation. Par contre, la jurisprudence de nombreuses Cours d'Appel commencent seulment a etre prise en consideration et les juridictions du premiere degres sont trop ignorees. ... Globalement, il faut souligner l'effort considerable fait pour permettre l'acces a l'information inedite. En quelgues annees, le juriste a pu decouvrir des centaines de milles de documents jusqu'alors totalement ignorees permettant un approfondissement important de la connaissance juridique."
Perhaps not everybody shares the view that access to thousands of new sources will improve the quality of legal decisions (this has been discussed above in part I), but the profusion of French systems certainly is still characteristic of the situation. Also, there is a concern in France in respect to the decisions of the intermediate courts - the number of decisions of the Cours d'Appel has increased by 50 per cent over the last half of the 1970ies, and only some 3 per cent of their decisions are published, distributed in more than 100 journals (Cedia undated).
As a result of this, the Ordre des avocats a la cour de Paris organized a Centre de documentation et d'informatique (Cedia), of which Louis Barbet is an enthusiastic director, in 1981. This intermediary service has access to CEDIJ, JURIS-DATA, LEX, SYDONI and CELEX, planning to include all available information services in France, and including the exhaustive library of the Ordre. In 1982, Cedia paid for 2.000 hours of interrogation of computerized services (Barbet 1983:18), and the cost of one question was 600 French francs (of which the Ordre des avocats pays 500 for members).
One may foresee that Cedia will organize user needs, that similar initiatives will be taken elsewhere, and
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that user requirements will be put forward resulting in - perhaps - a future coordination.
Ordre des advocats a la cour de Paris
At the moment also the French ministry of Justice seems to take a stronger interest. The commission which was formed in order to keep the ministry oriented on the CEDIJ activity, was reorganized 15 June 1979 (Journal Officiel of 26 June 1979 NC 5351) as a permanent secretariat. The current president (1984) is JM Sauve, Directeur de l'administration generale et de l'equipment of the Ministry of Justice. The secretariat has taken the initiative to develop educational material for users, and aids for courts. (Cfr Riolacci 1983.) The ministry has started distributing terminals to courts and other organizations within its field of responsibility.
Gibert (1983b:30) mentions that this policy started in 1981, a total of 55 terminals being installed at the end of 1983 in different jurisdictions: Cours d'Appel, Conseil des Prud'hommes and tribunaux d'instance.
The Ministry has specified an "oecumenique" terminal with function keys and the possibility of accessing different services (at lest CEDIJ, LEX, JURIS-DATA, and SYDONI). An initiative has been taken to develop a specialized intelligent terminal for legal information retrieval in order to facilitate the user interface (Charpenel 1983, especially page 4 and Stoliaroff 1983:3).
The first documentation center to emerge in France, was established within a university environment. In 1965 at the Universite de Montpellier in the south of France, professor Pierre Catala from the law faculty and profesor Falgueirettes from the science faculty organized a working group in order to develop a legal information system. In 1967, the work was organized
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in the Centre d'etudes pour le traitement de l'information juridique (CETIJ). This was in 1968 given support by the Centre national de la recherce scientifique (CNRS), the French research council. The same year, CETIJ was transformed into a university institute, Institut de recherces et d'etudes pour le traitement de l'information juridique (IRETIJ), governed jointly by the faculty of law and the faculty of science. From the start IRETIJ has been financed partly by the university, partly by CNRS, and partly through research contracts. IRETIJ has an impressive network of international contacts, which is oriented mainly towards latin-speaking countries.
39, rue de l'Universite
Professor Pierre Catala, who has now moved to Paris, is still the president of the institute, and very much active within the field of computers and law. The director in Montpellier is Michel Bibent, whose doctoral thesis L'informatique applique a la jurisprudence (Montpellier 1972) is on the IRETIJ system.
One of the interesting aspects of the work of IRETIJ, is the policy of documentation adopted. In France there are 32 cours d'appel, which annually decides some 100.000 civil and some 55.000 criminal cases. Until 1940, case reports were published for most of these courts. Today, there exists only two series, one for the court of appeal in Paris, another for that in Grenoble. Altogether ten courts actually publish reports, though irregulary.
The lack of a systematic publishing was felt as a problem, not least by the universities, Bibent 1968:665. Consequently several universities considered to create their own documentation services in order to remedy this fault in the legal information system. Actually, only the universities at Montpellier and Rennes maintain such centers.
Similar activities have been performed in several univesities. In addition to those of Montpellier and Rennes, Gibert (1983b:14-15) mention the Institut d'Etudes Judiciaires of the University of Aix-en-Provence (concentrating on the decisions of the Cour d'Appel d'Aix-en-Provence); Institut
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de Recherche Economique et de Planification at the University of Grenoble (in respect to decisions of the Cour d'Appel de Grenoble); centre d'etudes judiciaires of the University of Pau (in respect to decisions by the Court d'Appel de Pau); and L'institut de Recherche en Informatique Juridique at the University of Sceaux (which publish a journal, Jurindex, containing an index to French jurisprudence and doctrince since 1971.
The work of IRETIJ centered mainly on decisions of the appeal courts, though initially it set out to document the decisions of the Cour de Cassation. By the end of 1971, the IRETIJ system already included some 47.000 documents with an annual growth of 11.000 documents (Berger 1972:67-68). The objective of IRE-TIJ is eventually to cover principally regional case law, complemented by national case law and literature (Barbet 1982:39).
Currently the data base comprises decisions from the Cour de cassation (civil chamber from 1960, criminal chamber from 1970); decisions from Cour de Montpellier (from 1969), Cour de Nimes (from 1971), and other published case law (from 1973). Also 50 journals have been analysed since 1973, and a selection of ministerial responsa has been included since 1968. Altogether, the data base contains some 130.000 documents (Barbet 1982:42-43 - Gibert 1983b:139 mention the figure 150.000 documents with an annual increase of 10.000).
The retrieval programs have been developed by IRETIJ itself, initially by professor Filiatre - whose doctoral thesis is also a product of the project (Conception et realisation d'un systeme de documentation automatique pour la Jurisprudence, Montpellier 1970). From 1974, the retrieval program has been known as JURIDOC. It allows the use of Boolean and distance operators, as well as "value operators" for the quantitative data analysis (Technical Study II 1977:31).
It has been reported that the programs will be revised and recoded in PL/1, but not whether this has taken place (Technical Study II 1978:58).
The IRETIJ system is available on a dial-up terminal, or through the French packet switching network
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TRANSPAC. Costs were reported in 1977 to be 150 French francs per question, but pricing structure may have changed when switching to an online system.
The retrieval programs were initially based on an indexing philosophy (Bibent 1968:666-667), as authentic texts would have made retrieval strategies more complex and problematic. The documents are composed of the keywords assigned to the decision on publication. A brief description of the original version and method used by IRETIJ is given by Loehr 1969.
The decisions were published with a short abstract. A comparative performance test in 1968-69 gave - on the basis of 38 search requests - a slightly better result for the abstracts than for intellectually assigned indexing terms. IRETIJ did not at that occasion test the combination of indexing terms and abstracts, even though these would complement each other in a retrieval system, the keyword being of a relevant nature and well suited for retrieval, the abstracts of a specific nature and well suited for relevance assessment (Berger 1972:75). By utilizing additional indexing terms from the references, however, the recall ratio was brought up from 36 to 51.
Still IRETIJ was not satisfied with the recall capabilities of its system. Analysing the causes for performance failure, IRETIJ determined that these were mainly due to inexhaustive indexing, and partly due to a lack of uniform terminology and structure. In order to overcome these obstacles, IRETIJ developed their own guidelines for indexing legal documents. These guidelines were published 1969-70. Using them, IRETIJ prepared their own documents of 99 decisions by the Cour de Cassation. In a comparative performance test, this gave a recall of 63 per cent in contrast to the 51 per cent obtained when using the keywords assigned on publication.
Each document is represented by 30-100 indexing terms (Technical Study II 1977:29). There is a set of document types, and for each type an "analysis structure" has been established, indicating the interesting "points of view". The expert analyser specifies these "points of view" using indexing terms, on which a formal structure is imposed (corresponding to sentences and paragraphs), supply bibliographical references and - for the literature - a summary. On updating
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in batch, certain automatic controls are carried out.
The result is a document different from the original short abstract mentioned above, and generally considered to be of a high quality.
In evaluating the effort and emphasis which IRETIJ put on developing adequate indexing methods, one may become critical, Berger 1972:79-80, Haft 1970:146. But pragmatic factors may have made it difficult to choose another way of improving system performance, and the work on indexing may be of some value in itself.
When documents are loaded, the terms of the documents are replaced by a five digit code (numeros de notion). This is done automatically. The dictionary assigns the same code to all different grammatical variations of a word, and also to the specified synonyms. One also operates with what is known as a general term (notion generale), which covers words sharing a word stem, like for instance "commerce" (with grammatic derivations), "commercant", "commercial", "commercialite", Berger 1972:86-87. The codes of such clusters have identical first four digits, while the last digit varies.
In 1972 this input thesaurus contained 18.000 different word forms. There were 5.000 general terms, and counting the different terms in such clusters as well, there were 8.000 different codes.
The codes are loaded into an inverted file, and the search requests are matched against this file. The user does not have to use the codes, but can use words which - through the thesaurus - are translated into the appropriate codes. Terms in the search request may be combined by Boolean operators, and also distance operators. On the retrieval of documents, the user may specify futher requests which will utilize data contained in the text file rather than the inverted file.
The role of IRETIJ within France would seem to have been important. The commercial legal information retrieval service JURIS-DATA was initiated through cooperation with IRETIJ, and the specialized service on industrial property law of the Institut nationale de la propriete industrielle has likewise been
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formulated in cooperation with IRETIJ. Today, IRETIJ maintains close contact also with a number of foreign centers, and the Mexican UNAM-JURE is established on the basis of IRETIJ experiences.
In 1960, Lucien Mehl published a paper advocating a national center for legal information services ("Les sciences juridiques devant l'automation", Cybernetica 1960:22-40, 142-1760). Six years later he got the opportunity to attempt realizing his plan when Conseil d'etat (where Mehl was conseiller d'etat) allowed him the assistance of Jean-Marie Breton (then working with the Service central organisation en methodes) for one year. During this year, a survey of existing systems was completed, and a plan for future development was put forward.
In 1967 a working group was established, financed by the ministry of justice (Centre de coordination des recherches). This group produced a thesaurus of words based on the vocabulary of Code general des impots and the decisions of Conseil d'etat in tax law cases in the period 1935- 54, Breton/Mehl 1972:130.
In May 1968 the working group started tests using the IBM program DPS (Document Processing System) on the computer installation of Institut national de la statistique et des etudes economiques (INSEE), and in July 1968 the first statutes were computerized.
In 1969, the working group adopted the name CEDIJ (Cente de recherche et developpement en informatique juridique). The tests with DPs continues, and CEDIJ began developing their own retrieval program, to become known as DOCILIS (Documents, interrogation libres).
Though independent, CEDIJ still maintained a link with the ministry of justice. A commission was
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created to keep the ministry informed on the CEDIJ developments, and was represented in the administrative council of CEDIJ. In the period of 1973-1982, the ministry has supported CEDIJ by 34 million French francs, Charpenel 1983:2.
In April 1970 CEDIJ became independent, organized as a non-profit company. At the same time it became operational as a documentation and research center, devoting its effort to theoretical and applied research (Breton/Mehl 1972:130). Members of the new organization were Conseil d'etat, Cour de cassation, Cour des Comptes, the ministries of finance and internal affairs and the parliament. CEDIJ established cooperation with other centers, most notably the Quebec DATUM project, to which a satellite link was forged in 1976.
CEDIJ has always had a strong research aspect to its activities, and Gibert (1983b:121) mention that the Laboratoire d'Informatique et de Droit International (LIDI) is associated with CEDIJ.
CEDIJ included in its data base legislation and case law. A source may be represented by authentic text or by an abstract or a set of indexing terms. As to legislation, the authentic text is registered. In respect to case law, initially an abstract is registered, being on average one tenth of the length of the source (Breton/Rave 1972:33). At present, however, CEDIJ enters the authentic text of decisions by the Conceil d'etat and the Cour de cassasion in addition to the abstract. Emphasis was put on fixed fields of bibliographic data - as much as 53 fields were associated to each document (Tapper 1973:197). Examples are given by Breton 1969.
CEDIJ maintains its own data bases, but also data bases for other organizations (for instance the parliament). A survey of potential users in 1977 is reported to have had a certain impact - for instance greater emphasis on increasing the publication ratio of its data bases (cfr Technical Study II 1978:57).
In 1972 the data base comprised some 50.000.000 characters, and by 1975 it was expected to include 250.000 decisions (Tapper 1973:197). Barbet (1982:38) reports, however, that the data base contains only some 200.000 documents, while Gibert (1983b:121)
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reports 500.000 documents of altogether 500 million characters, with an annual growth of 150-170 million characters.
The data base is divided into three parts, for case law, legislation and literature. In addition, there is a data base for parlimentary documents.
The case law data base contains currently (1982) the decisions of Conseil constitutionnel; Tribunal des conflicts (since 1973); Conseil d'etat (fiscal since 1955, general since 1970 and expropriation and urbanisation since 1967); Cour de cassasion (civil, commercial and social chambers since 1966, criminal chamber since 1970, decision in labour law since 1960 and fiscal law since 1955 - non published cases since 1970; decisions of the Cour d'appel de Versailles (since 1977), Cour d'appel de Aix-en-Provence (since 1975) and decisions published in the major journals since 1980.
At present (1982) the legislative data base contains bilateral tax treaties (including authentic texts of extracts); tax law (both statutes and regulations of sales, company and personal tax, registration taxes, property tax, municipality taxation etc); business law (certain procedures concerning liquidation etc, company law, contractual law, trade regulation, and consumer protection; social law (labour law, social aid and security law, and health law; expropriation; construction and building law; environmental law, law on trading with public agencies; law on the organization of local public administration, law of procedures for public administration, and defence law.
The data base of legal literature contains currently (1982) references on papers published in 50 journals (since 1970) and case notes in the literature.
For retrieval, CEDIJ originally used the IBM program DPS. In its original version DPS was not terminal oriented, but an auxilliary program developed by INSEE for Observatoires economique regionaux called SPHYNX made online retrieval possible.
In 1974 CEDIJ switched to the IBM text retrieval program STAIRS. This is a state of the art text retrieval program, permitting exploitation of fixed field through an additional data base structure, and
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with a full range of Boolean operators for the text retrieval. It also has distance operators and ranking functions (quite similar to those of the Canadian QL/SEARCH, to which it is also related). Browsing functions are well developed, permitting highlighting. It is reported that CEDIJ has adapted STAIRS for its use (Technical Report II 1977:15, 17). Part of this adaption is the translation of STAIRS messages to French. The more user friendly interface seems to be known as BRS, and has been available for CEDIJ since December 1982 (Stoliaroff 1983:2).
STAIRS interfaces with an additional program known as TLS, which permits the establishment of thesaurus. structures and grammatic generators. This is used to implement the work done by CEDIJ on computational linguistics, which is one of the most valuable contributions of its research. As mentioned, CEDIJ emphasized from the beginning, supporting programs to increase performance, these being known as DOCILIS.
The initial thesaurus contained two segments; one for legal terms, another for non-legal terms. The non-legal segment is further divided into a general and a specific subsection. And these two subsections, as well as the legal segment, is further divided into four categories, three which correspond to functional categories (entities, biens, evenements) and one rest cathegory (synthetique).
Words in the basic categories are hierarchically organized; words with several meanings may consequently be found in different hierarchical structures. The paradigmatic relations between words are registered and entered into the system, giving a listing of grammatical variations, syntactical substitutions, and quasi-synonyms. These substitutions are made automatically by the system, using the terms of the search request as input. In 1975 the list of grammatical variations had 11.000 entries, the list of syntactical substitutes had 6.500 entries, and the list of quasi-synonyms had 4.500 entries. The list of grammatical variations is incomplete, as it includes only terms with different meanings. Otherwise grammatical variations are gererated by a special support program, GRAMMATIC.
CEDIJ also has tried to tackle recall failure, which may originate by implicity of the authentic text.
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This is done by inserting words representing the implied ideas or concepts in the document between asterisks. Also words not included in the source, but used as an indexing term in manually prepared indexes (as may be found in a case reporter) are inserted in the same way. In addition, it is found that the table of contents in a book may include terms of a higher generality, which consequently is of some use in reducing the specificity of the document.
Another set of routines aims at reducing precision failure. One strategy has been to make polusemes and homgraphs explicit. The problem of homographs are often somewhat magnified in French, as many computers do not have character sets sufficently wide to represent accent, for instance the word form "greve" will represent both the word with an accant grave for the first "e" and the accent aigy for the last "e" etc, Kornerup 1969, Berger 1972. A term making the actual interpretation of the polyseme or homograph explicit is manually inserted in the document between asterisks.
As the reader will have noticed, this book is produced by a printer having a very limited range of accents, and many excellent examples of the defiency mentioned above may be found in the text.
French is a language which forms compounded words in the same way as English, by stringing words together using common words. It was found that such phrases reduced the precision of text retrieval because they were difficult to define - for instance the phrase "chemin de fer" (railway) would reduce the precision in respect to search requests containing only the idea represented by the term "chemin" (road) or the idea represented by the term "fer" (iron). This was to some degree resolved by reducing the phrase to a syntetic word, for instance "chemin-de-fer". Care has been taken, however, in order not to lose information (and consequently risking recall failure) through exaggerated use of synthetic words.
Originally, a question was communicated to CEDIJ in natural language, and transformed into a search request of DPS format by one of the CEDIJ staff. It was estimated that some 20 minutes were necessary for the construction of search requests.
[Page 354 ]
This did, of course, change when CEDIJ switched to STAIRS, which is truly terminal oriented. Terminals may be connected by dial-up or through the French packet-switched network TRANSPAC. In 1980, three courts was connected by terminal - the Cour de cassasion, the Conseil d'etat, and the Tribunal de Nanterre. Later (1981-82) terminals have been distributed to the appeal courts and some profession schools. Average monthly usage was 4 hours in the period June 1981 - December 1982 (Charpenel 1983:2-3).
The Cour de cassasion has actually reorganized its routines for its Service de documentation et d'orientation in order to exploit the CEDIJ data base of the court's decisons in a systematic way - in order to make more rational developments in case law. This is to start in the chamber of social law July 1983, and to be extended to the other chambers in 1984 (cfr Leo/Bergeron 1983).
The CEDIJ current tariff (1982) is based on actual connect time to the system, on a scale starting on 570 French francs per hour if connected less than 5 hours per month, and decreasing to 460 francs per hour if connected more than 50 hours per month. For synchronous terminals, the tariff is 100 francs higher. An answering service is available for 400 franc per question.
Reports of 1983 indicate that the services of CEDIJ are available through the organization C-CAM, using the BRS text retrieval system (which is related to STAIRS) at the rates mentioned above.
The result is given in a number of alternative formats. In 1971 CEDIJ processed about 100 questions a month (Breton/Rave 1972:55), in 1976 this figure was up to 150 questions a month.
Several tests of the performance of the CEDIJ system are known. In an early phase of the system (1970), recall was estimated to be less than 50 per cent, but
[Page 355 ]
during 1971 - with the support of the DOCILIS programs - this was improved to 85 per cent. With respect to the Conseil d'etat the thesaurus was not at that time satisfactory, and a sample taken 1970-71 of 42 question gave a recall of 42 per cent. In the same period, 57 questions directed at the documents composed of Code des impots gave a recall of 84 per cent. It was expected to reach a recall of beyond 93 per cent when DOCILIS routines were perfected, Breton/Rave 1972:56.
The reduction of recall failure was given priority over reduction of precision failure. In 1970, precision was estimated to be less than 40 per cent, while it was expected that through the DOCILIS support, it might be brought up to 80 per cent.
As always, performance figures in recall and precision ratios should be critically assessed, as it is doubtful whether this is a measure appropriate for total or general system performance.
In France, the notaries have an important place in the legal system. This became more apparent in 1959 when a reform removed civil servants from the districts, leaving the notary as the most approachable lawyer. The reform magnified the already severe problems created by deficiencies in the legal information system, and the notaries set up - on a co-operative basis - what were to be called Centres de recherches d'information et de documentation notaires (CRIDON), Haft 1970:128, Chamoux 1969:4-5. The first of the CRIDONs was established in Lyon, but other followed in Paris, Lille, Bordaux, and Nantes (Barbet 1978:8).
The computerization started in Lyon, but it has been introduced in other CRIDONs, and is reported to have developed into a national system.
The CRIDON de Lyon was founded in 1962. A mechanical peek-a-boo system SELECTO was organized in order to facilitate legal research (Technical Study II 1977:20). In principle the step from mechanical to
[Page 356 ]
computerized systems is rather short, and in 1969 CRIDON de Lyon - in cooperation with mathematicians and linguistics from the university of Grenoble - started to develop a legal information system, Systeme de documentation notariale informatisee (SYDONI). There were also cooperation with IRETIJ at Montpellier (Law and Computer Technology 12/1968:12). The project is supported by the ministry of industry (Charpenel 1983:2). From 1981, a liaison with the Conseil superieur de notariat has been made, the authority responsible of legal information policy (cfr Technical Study II 1978:57).
SYDONI is today (1983) a commercial service based on the cooperation between the CRIDON de Lyon and the publishers Dalloz and Francis Lefebvre as well as a large number of other organizations (Gibert 1983b:179). It is made available by one of the principal carries of France (Gibert 1983b:179 gives this as C-CAM SORINFOR).
1, rue du Boccador
The project was revised in 1972, and programs were then developed by the service burau EURINFORM CISI into a more advanced version for an IRIS (a CII Honeywell Bull computer). SYDONI is also employing the MISTRAL text retrieval system of CII Honeywell Bull, which is briefly characterized in the section on the European Communities, and is using a CII Honeywell Bull computer. This is supplemented by the SUMER (an acronym for Systeme universel de memorisation et de recherche) of EURINFORM allowing for extra functions, like online updating (Technical Study II 1977:20). It also has a very simple search language, not permitting complex Boolean arguments.
The point of departure of this system was a list of descriptors characterizing the sources. Rather than adopting a numerical code for each indexing term, CRIDON de Lyon compressed the indexing term to an unambiguous alphabetical form. Thus "abadon" became "aba", and "abattement" became "...tt". To each indexing term was attached a decriptive field (zone descriptive), in which the relations of the term with other terms was specified: synonymity (singular and plural, derivations, context-independent synonyms,
[Page 357 ]
and synonyms decided by the SYDONI staff), and hierarchical relations. Word forms in synonym groups or hierarchical structures are treated as combined by a logical or. This field also contained the addresses of the documents in which the term occurred. In 1977 the thesaurus was of 8.200 entries, and was given this characteristic by the Technical Study II 1977:22:
(The thesaurus) "... is neither powerful enough or complete enough, nor familiar enough, nor easy enough to use".
The study did add, however, that a new version of MISTRAL would provide the possibility of online thesaurus consultation. A discussion of the thesaurus may be found in Mignot/Cledes 1978a:10-12.
The documents were converted from the earlier mechanical system to the computerized system. Through the work with this conversion a certain conceptualization took place, creating logical documentation units (unites logiques de documentation) which constitute the metalanguage of SYDONI. Through this the search may be limited to documents of a certain category, or to special subjects - Haft 1970:131.
The objective of SYDONI is to cover the whole legal system, and at the moment, the data base contains some 100.000 documents (170 millions characters). These include the most important legislative instruments (though the data base is inclomplete in fiscal and economic law); all published case law supplemented by unpublished decisions and selections from literature as published in 200 journals (Barbet 1982:40-43).
The five CRIDONs cooperate in constructing the documents, and at each of them SYDONI is available 8 hours a day, Mignot/Cledes 1978a:3,4. A discussion of the user groups and uses of SYDONI can be found in Mignot/Cledes 1978b.
In addition, it should be mentioned that SYDONI makes available to its users "flashs quotidiens d'informations" through the French teletex service Teletel (Gibert 1983a:12).
[Page 358 ]
Editions techniques is a French publisher specialized on books and journals for professionals, publishing for instance the Juris- Classeur for lawyers. In 1969, the company conducted its first study on the feasability of making a computerized, legal information service (Nectoux 1978:1). Professor Pierre Catala was engaged as a consultant, and JURIS-DATA developed a retrieval system based on a copy of the JURI-DOC system of IRETIJ, Montpellier. The system became operational 1972-73 (Nectoux 1978:1, Technical Study II 1977:35) and accessible to the public in October 1973 (Barbet 1978:13).
123, rue d'Alesia
Professor Catala is retained as one of the six directors of Editions Techniques. Another is Jean-Pierre Chamoux, an influential figure within the French community working on computers and law. He has also founded the private research organization Droit & informatique, which has undertaken research in this area, especially in respect to transnational data flows and information law.
5, rue du Captaine Scott
In its original form, the JURIS-DATA system was employed by mid- users. Currently, however, end-users may connect to the service through dial-up terminals or the French packet-switching network TRANSPAC. Today, there are probably considerable differences between the JURIS-DATA retrieval system and JURIDOC. It is, for instance, reported that JURIS-DATA automatically expands words by singulars-plurals and masculinumfemininum (Stoliaroff 1983:5). JURIS-DATA employs an IRIS 80 Cii Honeyewell Bull and also has availbale MISTRAL.
JURIS-DATA emphasize a careful preparation of the documents to be included in the data base, a philosophy corresponding to that of IRETIJ.
[Page 359 ]
The data base currently (1982) constitutes some 200.000 documents from the Cour de cassasion (civil, commercial, social and criminal chambers, the thre first since 1960, the last since 1972), Conseil d'etat (published decisions from 1972, from 1980 also unpublished decisions), unpublished cases from Cour d'appel de Paris (from 1972) and provincial appeal courts (from 1980), and some other case law. As much as 58 journals (from 1970) are analysed and the decisions and literature of these are included. Also selected ministerial responsa from the Journal Officiel since 1970. (Cfr Barbet 1982:39-43 and JURIS-DATA promotional material of 1982.)
The greatest interest of the JURIS-DATA's service concerns its documentation of unpublished decisions by the Cour d'appel de Paris.
JURIS-DATA emphasize its complementary nature to the services of a traditional legal publisher. For instance is emphasized that the analysis of journals permits access to the citations of any case discussed in these (Nectoux 1978:4), and the possibility of producing what Nectoux (1978:15-16) calls "Dossiers JURIS-DATA". These are edited compilations of case law etc based on an important question, furnished with a summary and an alphabetical "back-of-the-dossier" index by JURIS-DATA (employing some of the other computer programs of Editions Techniques, giving a "vue panoramique" of the legal system. These have proved especially important for decisions by the Cour d'appel de Paris, whose decisions are not available otherwise.
LEXIS has been available in France since 1982, through the company Tele Consulte (affiliated with the general French publisher Hachette), based on a similar arrangement as Mead Data Central has with Butterworths Telepublishing in Great Britain.
44, rue du Four
[Page 360 ]
LEXIS has as an objective to offer a complete service, and though quite new in France, the massive experience and resources of its US relation is backing the venture.
Therefore, the data base already contains some 200.000 court decisions (published and unpublished) and the last 20 years of statutes and decrets. This comprises the Cour de cassasion (civil, social and commercial chambers since 1959, criminal chamber since 1970), Tribunal des conflits (since 1964), Conceil constitutionnel, Conseil d'etat (general and fiscal since 1964), Journal officiel (since 1955), responsa to the ministries of economy and budget (since 1970) and all bilateral tax treaties (since 1970). Updating response is reported to be 3 weeks (Gibert 1983b:154).
Also in France LEXIS bases its services on documents of authentic texts - and emphasize that it offers small and capital letters, underlining as from the editor and the correct French accents - "pour LEXIS, un enfant 'legitime' n'est pas un enfant 'legitime'". The grammatic generator has been extended to French, handling both plurals and masculinum-feminimum - for "beau-pere" it also retrievs documents containing "belle-mere". This is, however, no thesaurus function.
The retrieval is channeled into telecommunication facilities to the Mead Data Central main facilities in Dayton, Ohio. The efficient telecommunication link ensures that this does not create inconveniences for the user in delayed response time.
Tariff structure is somewhat complex, being composed of a monthly fee, a fee for the installation of the terminal and a degressive tariff for connect time per hour starting at 650 and ending at 400 FF.
7.10.7 Specialized or regional information services
A number of more specialized services exist in France, and these will be summarized below.
LEX is an internal service of the Secretariat
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general du gouvernement Francais, aiming at making available legislation of the secretariat. The data base is reported to include of approximately 200.000 documents of statutes in force (with an annual increase of approxiamtely 10.000 documents), as they have been published in the Journal officiel, using the MISTRAL text retrieval system and Cii Honeywell Bull hardware. It does not directly make the data base available, but it is reported (Stoliaroff 1983:2, Gibert 1983b:152) that it is currently available with other French data banks by the company Telesystemes, which also supports the simplified user interface to MISTRAL known as QUESTEL.
Fichier legislatif informatise du
JURINPI is a service of the Institut national de la propiriete industrielle (which was created by the Ministre du l'industrie et de la recherche in 1971), and specialize in industrial property law. The origin of the system is a cooperation with IRETIJ at Montpellier starting in November 1972, which in September 1974 resulted in a first data base (Barbet 1978:14), known by the abbreviation BDDPI (Banque de donnees du droit de la propriete industrielle). It uses a special retrieval program, presumably based on or identical to the IRETIJ retrieval system JURIDOC (and IBM hardware. Some 15.000 documents are available. These are cases in the area of patents (brevets d'inventions) from 1823 and trademarks from 1904), including nonpublished cases from 1964. Also included are cases from the Commission and the Court of the European Communities, and the appeal chamber of the European Patent Office. Literature on patents and trade marks is included from 1968. The service is not available (1983) online, but there is an annual subscription for an answering service (Barbet 1982:39).
Documentation juridique de
[Page 362 ]
SIGAD is an acronym for Systeme interactif de gestion automatisee de documentation, operated by ACODOPA (Association pour la constitution d'une documentation patronale) for making a data base on social law available to private companies. Some 100.000 documents are included, comprising selected case law since 1911 and commentaries by professional organizations and public administration on social law. SIGAD uses the program BASIS on Control Data hardware, and may be accessed by dial-up terminal or through the French packet-switched network TRANSPAC.
34, Avenue Charles de Gaulle
RESAGRI, which is a very welcome acronym for Resau des organismes agricoles pour une documentation technique, socio- economique, juridique et financiere, which is operated by the Ministere de l'agriculture.
The system seems to have grown out of an effort made by the legal department of the Casse national de credit agricole in 1971, which in 1974 resulted in an online retrieval system created by the department and run on an IBM computer (Barbet 1978:15-17).
The legal documents are only part of this service offered within the area of agriculture. There are some 40.000 legal documents available, legislation in the field of land, banking, insurance and social law; selected case law and literature (only references) from major journals within the same areas. The system is using the retrieval program MISTRAL (run on CII Honeywell Bull hardware), and is available through dial-up terminals or the French packet-switched network TRANSPAC.
Ministere de l'agriculture
CDJO, an abbreviation for Centre de documentation juridique de l'ouest, was established in 1972 by a university center directed by professor Cosnard under the law faculty at Rennes, and sponsored by the Centre national de la recherche scientifique. Its
[Page 363 ]
objective is to make available regional case law, and the data base comprises some 40.000 documents representing the published and unpublished decisions of Cour de Rennes and Cour d'Angers since 1972. The system is using the retrieval program MISTRAL (run on CII Honeywell Bull hardware). It is not avaiable by terminal, but through an answering service, to which also an annual subscription may be made.
ARIANE, an acronym for "Arrangement reticule des informations pour l'approche des notions par leur environnement", is oriented toward documents relevant for construction, and includes also statutes and regulatory law. It is provided by the Institut technique du batiment et des travaux publics in cooperation with CATED (Centre d'assistance technique et de documentation). The legal part of the data base is quite modest (some 400 documents), but these are updated within a few days after being received by CATED. The system documents the authentic text of the sources, using an inhouse system known as ARIANE. There are 50 subscribers each using the service at an average rate of 10 hours monthly.
ISIS is a system documenting French and international commercial, social, administrative and civil law operated by Chambre de commerce et d'industrie de Paris (which also operates a videotex system, see below). The system includes approximately 85.000 documents with an annual increase of 25.000 represented in abstracts and indexing terms. The system is available through C-CAM (see above under sect .3 for address) using the BRS text retrieval system.
[Page 364 ]
Le particulier is a service for commentaries in labour law, offering a data base of approximately 15 million characters (Gibert 1983b:149) and using a STAIRS system adapted for videotex - as it also offers a data base especially developed for this access mode.
21, Boulevard Montmartre
NORIANE is an acronym for Normes et regelementations techniques en ligne, and covers any technical requirements in French or Community law, or in ISO standards. Altogether 33.000 references of indexing terms are available and is updated every second month. The service is avaiable through Telesystemes QUESTEL using MISTRAL retrieval software.
A curious computerized information system is Droit antiques, which covers legal instruments from the ancient Mediterranean civilizations - altogether some 11.000 documents with an annual growth of approximately 1.500 documents. The retrieval system is SPLEEN 3 supplemented by MISTRAL.
12, Place du Pantheon
A few legal information systems are available through the French teletex system Teletel. The publishers Berger-Levrault and Prat- Europa have established a legal guide; and Le Particulier supplies a form a legal encyclopedia on tax, social and general law, including an interactive program for calculation of tax which has had some success. The Institut national de la consommation offers weekly headlines on consumer affairs, including a legal part.
The Chambre de commerce et d'industrie de Paris associated with those in Lyon and Bordaux has
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established a data base known as DOC PRACTIC reproducing the different leaflets and guides supplied by the Chambre, and including brief summaries of business law. These are quite well indexed for a teletex service.
16, Rue Chateaubriand
The journal Juridigest (published by Documentation Organique) gives summaries of journals; tax, social and general law for the practising lawyer.
11, Rue de Teheran
[Page 366 ]
One might have thought that the computer offered a tempting technology to the well-organized minds of German lawyers. However, no real development seems to have emerged until the late 1960ies - to some extent touched off by the World Peace Through Law conference in Geneva (cfr above at sect 6.4.1), cfr Fiedler 1968 with references.
But when the interest caught on, it blossomed into enthusiasm, initiative, projects and studies in the first half of the 1970ies.
The Federal Republic of Germany has a federal constitutional structure with a corresponding complexity of the legal system. It would seem that the information crisis - which was emphasized in the early days of the US development as well - was felt even more strongly in Germany. This may have several reasons, one of the more probable being the active part played by federal and state public administrations. Also, arguments derived from the rule of law ("Rechtssicherheit") have considerable weight in Germany, where in the post-war period, it has been considered important to strengthen the ideal of the rule of law to make the legal system more resistant to abuse.
In early papers the information crisis in law was pointed out (Simitis 1967, Fiedler 1968:273-274), and it was brought home by the monograph of professor Sprios Simitis of 1970: Informationskrise des Rechts und Datenverarbeitung. And at the same time, the first projects concerned with computerized legal information systems were created, see the status report to the 48. Deutschen Juristentag (Deutscher Juristentag 1970). At this conference, a commission established by the previous Juristentag in 1969 reported, and the standing deputation recommended (JURIS 1978:5):
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"Die staendige Deputation haelt es fuer dringend geboten, ueber das Stadium der theoretischen Vorueberlegungen eines Einsatzes datenverarbeitender Maschinen auch fuer die Rechtspraxis hinaus sich nunmehr um die praktische Verwirklichung, mindestens durch die Schaffung von Datenbanken, zu bemuehen, wie dies im Ausland schon weithin geschieht."
One of the first efforts was the project sponsored by the private firm Juradat GmbH & Co KG, which was announced at a press conference in March 1970 in Berlin, see Haft 1970:169.
The data base was to be composed of case law, represented by extracts: only selected passages of the authentic text was entered into the system. The work on the system started late in 1969, and the system was demonstrated in 1971, having then a data base of 30.000 documents, a planned annual expansion of 60.-80.000 documents (JURIS 1972:408).
Software was developed by Juradat for a UNIVAC computer, and was said to have had an inventive design, featuring dialog techniques, search strategies based on Boolean operators, thesaurus and automatic synonym functions.
Juradata ceased its operations, however, March 1973 due to financial difficulties.
There has also been a number of other relevant systems in Germany. For instance Svoboda (1981) include the system on literature on criminalistics, criminology and internal information at the Bundeskriminalamtes in Wiesbaden; the system of the Sekretariats der Kulturministerkonferenz at Aachen, documenting information on cases etc dealing with universities, exams, university law etc; and the system for documentation on data protection and security at the Department of Computer Science at the University of Cologne.
Germany was characterized by two interesting activities in addition to the actual systems being described below.
Firstly, an active interest in the development was
[Page 368 ]
taken by lawyers, both academics and practising lawyers. In Germany, the implications of legal information retrieval systems were discussed, and attempts were made to develop a policy in respect to such services. This also led to a flurry of literature - more was written on legal information systems in Germany in the first part of the 1970ies than the sum of what was written elsewhere. Several journals within the field emerged, none of them specialized in legal information retrieval systems, though some of them reported regularly on developments within the field.
Datenverarbeitung im Recht (DVR) is perhaps currently the major general journal, its first issue was published in 1972. Also EDV und Recht is an important journal, having published a number of special issues of great interest - its first issue was published in 1970. Arbeitspapiere Rechtsinformatik appears irregulary with - as the title implies - studies and research reports. Its first issue was published in 1970.
All these three journals are published by the same publisher:
Oeffentliche Verwaltung und Datenverarbeitung has merged with another and more general journal, but does occasionally contain papers of interest.
Stolberger Strasse 84
DSWR (Datenverarbeitung in Steuer, Wirtschaft und Recht) is published in cooperation with the DATEV organization, and should be mentioned in respect of the service offered by DATEV.
This literary activity was parallelled by an academic activity.
[Page 369 ]
An important institution was the Institut fuer Datenverarbeitung im Rechtswesen (IDR), which in 1971 was established as an independent institute at the major research center Gesellschaft fuer Mathematik und Datenverarbeitung (GMD) near Bonn directed by professor Herbert Fiedler, one of the founders of computers and law as a discipline in Germany.
Postfach 1240, Schloss Birlinghoven
At this institute, a number of very interesting studies were undertaken of legal information systems and text retrieval systems. A major effort was the MAJUS project, initiated in 1974 and terminated in 1977 (cfr above at sect 5.4.5.
In 1982, the GMD was reorganized, and through this reorganization, the future of IDR was reconsidered. Currently it looks like the GMD over the next five years will be attempting to find a solution through which the IDR may be transplanted to an university environment.
Professor Fiedler also heads a smaller university institution known as the Forschungsstelle fuer juristische Informatik (FJI) at the faculty of law, Bonn University.
At the Regensburg University, professor Wilhelm Steinmueller established his Arbeitsgruppe Rechtsinformatik, which for a time was very active. Among other things, a documentation service was established at Regensburg in 1973 - REDOK - which was later renamed LEDOK (Lehrstuhldokumentationssysteme), and then integrated into the international bibliography of computers and law of the IDG, Florence. This service was actually proceeded by an early and major bibliography on computers and law, JUDAC (cfr Schubert/Steinmueller 1971). In 1982 Steinmueller was given a chair in "legal informatics" at the faculty of science in Bremen - the first chair in "Rechtsinformatik" in Germany. This hopefully will guarantee his future involvement in the field.
[Page 370 ]
University of Bremen
At Frankfurt, professor Spiros Simitis established a Forschungstelle fuer juristische Dokumentation, which for some years published the series Kybernetik - Datenverarbeitung - Recht (first issue in 1971). Professor Simitis' chair is in labour law, and he is also the Datenschutzbeauftragter for the land of Hessen. Therefore one should not be surprised to see his research center for computers and law being somewhat less active these days.
At the University of Hannover, professor Wolfgang Kilian established in June 1983 an Institut fuer Rechtsinformatik (IRI). He is mainly concerned with substantial questions relating to civil and labour law. IRI (Hannover) has started a series of publications named Wissenschaft und Praxis.
Fakultaet fuer Rechtswissenschaft
At the University of Tuebingen, professor Fridjof Haft - who was quite active in the early 1970ies - seems to have taken a new initiative cooperating with linguists at his university, moving in the direction of natural language retrieval strategies and deontic systems.
At the University of Augsburg, professor Dieter Suhr holds a chair which is partly dedicated to computers and law.
Also at the University of Munich, there is a joint institute for legal philosophy and computers and law, in which interesting developments are taking place - not least in using computeraids for the teaching of law.
[Page 371 ]
This survey does not do justice to the activities of German researchers within the area of computers and law in general. In Germany the area is more facetted than in most other countries, but even so, it is easy to see that work on the legal problems of computerized systems in public administration may be of great interest for those oriented towards legal information retrieval systems. Though incompleatly, we nevertheless think that the major centers have been indicated.
Above, we have briefly discussed the major research project of Siemens - CONDOR (Communication in Natuerlicher Sprache mit Dialog- Orientierten Retrieval-Systemen), one of the major research efforts in the area of text retrieval of which we are aware (cfr above at sect 5.3.1). This effort was, however, discontinued in 1981.
In addition there are some other projects of interest. We have mentioned the activities of the Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, Bonn, in respect of the ENLEX project of the European Communities, which was proceeded by a less successful national system, ELIS (cfr Technical Study II 1978:64). The Federal Environment Agency maintains a system named JURDOK. The Umplis system has a file (Ulidat) covering legal literature. At the University of Aachen there is a Dokumentationsprojekt Deutsches Hochschulerecht. The Federal Criminal Agency operates a legal information system known as COD (including 8.000 documents of bibliographic references).
More important is, perhaps, the information system of the German parliament (Bundestag), which has an impressive and very active legislative information system known as PARLIS/GESTA.
The most interesting system of the parliament is GESTA, a system giving a current status of the legislative process. The system is published in a loose-leaf edition - but also a videotex service in cooperation with the German Bildschirmtext. It
[Page 372 ]
is foreseen that some of the services currently offered by GESTA in time will be offered also within the JURIS system.
In 1967, the Bundesministerium der Justiz started planning a legal information system. A working party was formed - Arbeitskreis fuer juristische Dokumentation mit Hilfe der EDV - which included academic lawyers, representatives of the industry and the Bundesministerium der Justiz. This group published a report on its work as an annex to the Bundesanzeiger 41 of 28 February 1970 (JURIS 1978:3).
At the Justizministerkonferenz 31 May 1969 a commission was established, chaired by the Bundesministerium der Justiz. This group has supervised the development of the JURIS project, which followed shortly afterwards (JURIS 1978:3-4).
Also in 1969, the professors Klug, Fiedler and Simitis on contract with the Bundesministerium der Justiz suggested how a computerized legal information service could be established (JURIS 1978:4).
In October 1970, the Bundesministerium der Justiz established a project group for looking into the possibilities of improving the legal information system through computerized solutions. This group published the results of its findings in January 1972 in the comprehensive report Das Juristische Informationssystem - Analyse, Planung, Vorschlaege (JURIS 1972).
A summary of the report is published in English as "The legal information system - analysis, planning, proposals"; Council of Europe EXP/Ord Jur (72)15. The project group was composed of representatives for the ministry of justice, the GMD Bonn, and the consulting company C-E-I-R GmbH Frankfurt.
The report sketched a grand design for its time - a comprehensive legal information system accessible
[Page 373 ]
through 30.-40.000 terminals (JURIS 1972:256-258). The grand plan evoked some reactions - perhaps most explicitly from an organization of 29 legal publishers - Verlegervereinigung Rechtsinformatik, which put forwards its view in a report titled Staatliche Rechtsdokumentation - Gefahr fuer die juristische Fachliteratur (1975). The grand design and the reaction to it are the joint explanation for the critical studies and academic research taking place in Germany in the first half of the 1970ies. It soon became evident, however, that the thousands of terminals were not emerging overnight - and the reduced investments following the more difficult economics of the 1970ies soothed the concern of the providers of conventional information services. Today, the critical interest is not more predominant in Germany than elsewhere. But we may still be grateful for the profusion of arguments brought forth in the swirl of activity following the first JURIS report.
On the basis of this report, a "development system" was launched, directed by dr Josef Fabry of the ministry of justice under the acronym JURIS (Juristisches Informationssystem). This development system was designed to acquire further information for the completion system, and a number of choices were postponed until the experiments of the development system were conducted.
Some confusion may arise from the fact that the acronym selected by the Germans is identical to the one denoting the US Justice Retrieval and Inquiery system. The German ministry of justice did actually clear the matter with their US colleagues before adopting the name. Also, it is an obvious acronym, shown by the fact that the Norwegian Research Center for Computers and Law at one time used the name JURIS (Juridiske informasjonssystemer) for its research program in legal information systems. This was, however, renamed NORIS in 1972.
One of the major choices was, obviously, the selection of a retrieval system. In the development
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system, several possible retrieval systems were tested. A small test data base of constitutional law was established, designed to be system independent. This was used for benchmark tests against different retrieval system, and in this respect, a cooperation with GMD was established. The text retrieval systems under consideration were the Siemens system GOLEM, the IBM system STAIRS, and the Telefunken system TELDOK (a company no longer existing). In addition, a system developed by GMD known as TR/1 was tested.
The "Text retrieval system/1" (TR/1) deserves some comments. It was developed 1972-75 by H.-Georg Kraemer at the GMD, and had some features not commonly found in text retrieval systems at that time. This included a modular data base structure, a floating document unit for retrieval purposes (the user might specify the documentary unit for his Boolean request), historical retrieval, right- and left-hand truncation, and exploitation of the citation structures in legislation. The system was tested only on the small data base of constitutional law, but did seem extremely promising. It was not, however, developed further.
The trial period ended in the launching of the second stage of the JURIS development plan: establishment of a fully operational, but limited system - which should be further tested.
In this early period, also a lot of interesting auxilliary research was carried out. The user research of Jungjohann/Soergel/Seidel/Uhlig (1974) is still one of the major efforts known. Also, the economic analyses of Gluek (1976) is perhaps the only published example of a detailed discussion of the costs and possible savings of the proposed system. As always, the Germans entrusted nothing to chance, but based their policy on solid research.
In a talk to the Verlegerverein Rechtsinformatik in Munich 22 May 1973, the minister of justice introduced the ideal of JURIS under the slogan "Auf dem Weg zur buergernahen Rechtsordnung". And by a decision of the Bundeskabinett 12 September the same year, he was authorized to launch the pilot JURIS system for a development phase of 6 years.
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(2) JURIS pilot system
The pilot system - or the development stage - of JURIS started in 1973, and ended in 1982. Only one year after its initiation, the government embarked upon a more general "Programm zur Foerderung der Information und Dokumentation", known as the "IuD Programm", by a cabinet decision of 17 December 1974. One of the "Fachinformationssysteme" under this program is "FIS 11 (Recht)", and the JURIS project was accomodated within the framework of the overall project (JURIS 1978:17-18).
The first cross-roads were passed when the Bundesministerium der Justiz assisted by GMD at the end of 1974 selected the Siemens system GOLEM II as the basis for further development (after considering offers from IBM and Siemens). GOLEM is, of course, a German text retrieval program - and considerations of industrial policy may have been taken into account when choosing GOLEM rather than its only realistic competitor, the IBM system STAIRS (which was actually developed by IBM, Germany).
GOLEM is a straigthforward text retrieval system, based on a Boolean search language. In its original implementation, the user interface was admittedly somewhat clumsy - for instance not permitting the users to use the Boolean operators at the same time as specifying the search terms. Since then, however, the interface has been greatly modified by the JURIS organization, for instance Boolean operators may now be specified in the search request with the search terms. JURIS maintains to have considerable influence on the development of GOLEM. A completely new release of the system is expected for 1984-85.
The current version, GOLEM BS2000, has a KWIC format with highlighting, and permits the user to store search requests as macroes. The program also permits, in the legislative data bank, to retrieve documents in force at a certain specified date - a very useful function.
A terminal known as TRANSDATA 8160 is recommended for the JURIS system, and permits the use of 17 function keys, cfr Stewen/Busse 1983:9.
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A JURIS computer center was established within the Bundesministerium der Justiz, Bonn in 1975, and a second mainframe was acquired in 1980, both being Siemens 7.541 computers (Stewen/Busse 1983:10).
The system was initially launched within two areas, social law and tax law, and in close cooperation with the traditional documentation centers of federal high courts. This is seen as a guarantee for quality and objectivity of the data bases (cfr Stewen/Busse 1983:5).
Since 1954, the Bundessozialgericht has maintained a manual information system covering all types of legal sources. By 1970, this had grown to include 450.000 file cards (Brackmann et al 1974:9), and the high activity of legislators and courts within this area of law, made the system a victim of the information crisis. The Bundessozialgericht established a project group to see whether a computerized solution might be found.
This group designed the basis of a retrieval system (Brackmann et al 1972), which to a large extent was a computerized version of the existing manual system.
Five different document types were established, corresponding to statutes, statutory instruments, regulations, literature and case law (Brackmann et al 1974:15). Each of these types had a number of fixed fields in addition to an abstract. The abstract is composed with no other restraints than some coordination norms.
A test data base of 1.200 documents on family allowance was created for a spectrum of legal sources, cfr Brackmann et al 1974:37-38 for examples. In this test data base, 41 per cent of the terms occurred in the abstract, and 59 per cent in the fixed field (as "aspektgebundene Deskriptoren"). The test data base used the GOLEM I retrieval system.
The experiment was brought to an end in 1973, and the plans for a more comprehensive Sozialrechtsdatenbank became integrated in the general JURIS project. The court does actually interpret the documentation area
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of social law quite generously, and of the case law selected (ca 50 per cent of the case law data bank, cfr Bonk/Busse/Kaefer/Neus/Stewen/Thiele 1983:7-8), only approximately 30 per cent of the decisions originates from the social courts.
The second area selected, was that of tax law, in cooperation with the Bundesfinanzministerium and Bundesfinanzhof. In 1979, the Bundesfinanzhof established a a word processing system (a NIXDORF data collection system) which interfaces with JURIS, not only reducing updating response, but also maintenance costs. Such a scheme has been introduced for the Bundessozialgericht as well as the Bundesarbeitsgericht and the Bundesgerichtshof. Such or similar systems are under consideration also for the other federal high courts, and high courts of the Laender.
Subsequently, the Federal Labour Cort joined the project, and from 1980 the Federal Supreme Court and the Federal Administrative Court started to establish documentation within their areas of jurisdiction as part of JURIS. For local courts, regional courts, and higher regional courts, experts work on contract with JURIS to extend its data base. For the administrative courts of the Laender, the Oberverwaltungsgericht of Nordrhein-Westfalen in Muenster have been cooperating with JURIS since 1979. Likewise, experts contracted by JURIS supplements the data base by documents on legal literature not covered by the documentation centers of the courts, Busse 1982:25.
Currently (December 1983) the data base includes some 350.000 documents organized in four pools, the case law file (Pool r) (187.500 decisions), the literature file (Pool 1) (170.000 documents), the administrative provisions file (Pool v) (21.500 documents) and the statutory file (Pool ntest) (54.500 documents). In addition, there is a "hot-file" (Aktualitetaeten-Datenbank) of some 5.500 court decisions and 7.800 bibliographical documents.
A rather comprehensive review of the system as it stands 1983 is given by Bonk/Busse/Kaefer/Neus/Stewen/Thiele 1983.
The case law file contains a selection of post war court decisions on social law (including labour law); a selection of decisions on tax law (since 1945);
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decisions on civil damages (since 1965); all published cases of the Supreme Court (since 1951). All published cases in 120 major reporters have been included since 1977, supplemented by unpublished cases provided by the courts themselves. For the decisions of the Bundesfinanzhof, the authentic text is stored (since 1981 also the unpublished cases). For other decisions only abstracts are stored.
The literature file contain references to all post-war literature on social law, while for literature on tax law and private law, approximately 150 major journals are analysed since 1977. The documents contain only abstracts of the cited literature.
The statutory file contains approximately 54.500 of the 90.000 sections making up the Federal Statutes, relating to the administration of justice, labor law, social insurance and war victim compensation. The problems of editing the statutory material are emphasized. The statutory material is stored in authentic form.
The administrative provisions file contains approximately 21.500 documents corresponding to 12.000 provisions on tax law, and 9.500 provisions on social law. Of these, approximately one third is in abstract form, the rest is stored in authentic form.
Before storage, each document is intellectually indexed for formal data like authour, court, bibliographical references, and some indexing terms are added, including statutory citations. There are 36 fixed fields for court decisions, 68 for legal literature, and 42 for statutory and regulatory material (Busse 1982:25).
It may be of interest to note that a norm for abbreviations of citations etc has been developed and promoted by the JURIS project (DIN-Norm 31620 - JURIS 1978:37-38), on which some 23.000 titles of provisions have been developed so far. Also other indexes are developed to assist retrieval by JURIS, like synonym thesaurus (Beziehungslisten), systematic classification (Sachgebietsgliederung), and problem classification (Problemenkreisgliederung - PKG).
Secondly, the documents are processed by at least two
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programs before being added to the data base.
PARAT is a program developed by JURIS for control and editing of the documents, with facilities of handling cross-references to other legal sources. It has mainly three functions (cfr Bonk/Busse/Kaefer/Neus/Stewen/Thiele 1983:19):
(1) Control of the documentary superstructure - that this is complete, formally correct supplemented by validity checks on the different fields.
For instance considering the structure of the data, ensuring that institutions and states correspond to the names in a predefined list, that numerical data are numerical, that dates are between 1800 and the current year, and that the total length does not exceed a certain limit.
(2) automatic completion of some field derived from other fields.
For instance the name of the author is included both as "author" and "person" in the documentary superstructure, and the automatic identification of values for fields like "Gerichtstyp", Gerichtsort" and "Sprachkoerper" is based on the text of the document itself; and
(3) splitting of some descriptors into meaningful sub-descriptors. For instance (JURIS 1978:31-33)
PASSAT is a Siemens program which preprocesses the text producing a sort of synonym thesaurus (Vergleichwortliste, or simply VWL) cfr Bonk/Busse/Kaefer/Neus/Stewen/Thiele 1983:21-24. Each word is here reduced to a basic form, not necessarily the grammatical basic form, but the part of the word which is unaltered by all inflexions.
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PASSAT takes care of what is called "Mehrwortbegriff", that is a phrase with a special legal implication like "Treu und Glauben" or "qualifizierte Mitbestimmung", by making their use as single search terms possible.
Each word is reduced to a "Stammwort" - a basic form (infinitum for verbs, singular for substantives etc), in order to reduce the problems for users created by the inflexions and other word forms gererated by German grammar. The reduction is done by having the program consult a list currently consisting of approximately 240.000 words - and as Busse (1982:25) remarks, the elaboration necessary to establish the list "alone costs years of work".
For instance "Hund" is associated with the suffixes "s", "e", "es", and "en" as well as the original basic form.
In the VWL, each basic form has four codes. The first is a double code, determining whether the word is a stop word or not, and in which way the basic form is to be represented in the search file (as only the basic form, or as several synonyms). The second code specifies the type of word (adjective, pronoun, etc) including whether the pluaral form is formed through vowel mutation. In the third code, the suffix list is specified - some 120 different combinations have been identified. The fourth code specifies how the word combines with other basic forms to create a compound word.
In the inverted file, compounded words are split, and each of the elements are indexed in the inverted file in addition to the original compound word. For instance "Ratenvertragsunterzeichnungen" is split into "Rate" + "Vertrag" + "s" + "Unterzeichnung" + "en". All parts of the word (excluding the joint letters) and their combinations form entries in the search file.
This redundancy actually brings the overhead up to a very high figure (it has been mentioned that this is as high as 8, compared to the approximately 1.8 in most conventional systems).
JURIS (1978:33-34) reports that the Bundersministerium der Justiz have developed an alternative
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program known as PEGASUS, which could replace PASSAT and require less computer resources. At that time it was not yet in operation as the necessary "Wortformen-Deskriptor-Lexikon" had not been fully developed. Actually the system never became fully operational, and there are no current plans to make it replace the improved PAS-SAT.
The actual updating of the data base is then carried out by the Siemens program GOGO.
Users are connected to the system mainly by leased lines, but dial-up facilities were introduced in 1982. The system is designed to interface with the Bundespost packet switched network DATEX-P, and the German videotex system Bildschirmtext. No videotex experiments have taken place, but the Diebold report (see below) estimates that as much as 80-90 per cent of future use will originate from videotex terminals.
In 1983, according to the plans for the pilot project, some 50 users were connected to JURIS by leased lines, an additional 15 by dial-up terminals. Currently the system is used some 1.400 hours monthly. In 1980, 24.000 search requests were processed, and in 1982, this figure was up to 20.000 for the first six months - indicating a growth of almost 100 per cent in only one year (cfr Busse 1982:27).
There are currently (December 1983) pending more than 500 requests to be connected to the system, which, however, will fall outside the scope of the pilot project.
(3) Extended JURIS system
The development contract for the pilot project JURIS system was completed in 1982. The pilot system was designed mainly to satisfy the requirements of the cooperating federal courts and the Bundesministerium der Justiz. An extended service would also have to satisfy the requirements of the states (Laender) and municipalities, as well as the legal profession at large.
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To assess the system, the independent consultant organization Diebold Deutschland GmbH was contracted.
The report itself is another example of German professionalism - a cost-benefit analysis of considerable detail, which take into consideration not only ecomics, but also discusses factors like availability, objectivity, rule of law ("Rechtssicherheit"), and innovation.
As to costs the report concludes (Diebold 1981:322) that JURIS should be able to cover its cost in the medium range perspective:
"Ab 1988 koennen die kumulierten Gesamtkosten ohne Investitionen fuer das Entwicklungssystem, ab 1990 die kumulierten Gesamtkosten mit Investitionen gedeckt werden. Ab 1986 steht den laufenden Kosten ein gleicher, bzw. hoeerer Ertragsanteil gegenueber."
This has suggested that JURIS should be opened to institutional participation by suitable partners, establishing a company under private law. As probable participants (Stewen/Busse 1983:10-11) are mentioned the federal and state governments, the professional organizations (particulary the German Law Society and the Federal Bar Council), DATEV (see below) and publishers of legal literature.
In our opinion it is interesting to note that one does see the possible transit from a government to a private system (though the private organization will certainly be of a very special nature). This may be taken as a confirmation of the difficulties in trying to run a legal information service of a general and open nature within the framework of a traditional government agency. The routines for budgeting and decisionmaking may, perhaps, be less than appropriate for a service actually offered on the commercial market - and parallels to the German solution are found elsewhere.
The Rechnungshof (the federal audit organization) questioned in the summer of 1983 the justification of JURIS in spite of the Diebold report. For a brief period this created some uneasiness as to the future of the system. Though the federal government still has not settled the political issue, there is
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nevertheless (at the end of 1983) a general concensus among the relevant agencies (including the Ministry of Finance) that JURIS should be continued.
A private initiative was taken by the institution Documenta Steuer und Recht (founded by Deutsche Wissenschaftlichen Steuerinstitut der Steuerbevollmaechtigten, three legal publishers, and DATEV (Datenverarbeitungsorganisation des steuerberatenden Berufes in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, eingetragener Genossenschaft), cfr Sebiger 1971:70. DATEV was actually founded in 1966 as a nonprofit organization to support its members in their professional functions, particulary bookkeeping, by utlizing computer systems. Currently (Farrenkopf 1983:2) DATEV has more than 22.000 members.
In 1969, an agreement was reached with the Finanzverwaltung des Bundes, some states and IBM Germany for an experimental system in tax law. The aim of this effort was to develop standards for a documentation system within the tax administration; 52 per cent of the persons asked expressed an interest in computerized services, cfr Sebiger 1971:70.
The project selected a data base of decisions by the Bundesfinanzhof (1.073 decisions from 1951-1969) on corporation tax law, and a set of related regulations. The decisions were structured in 14 fields, and the authentic text was included. In the experiment, the retrieval was conducted by the IBM system DPS.
The ambitions of the Steurrechtsbank escalated to a general tax law information service comprising legislation, case law and literature. Data entry was facilitated by optical character readers, and a stop word list of 256 words developed (making up some 39 per cent of the total number of words in the texts) cfr Simitis 1974:12. The retireval system was changed
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from DPS to the IBM text retrieval system STAIRS.
In the period of 1972-75, DATEV operated its services using the IBM computers of the Bavarian State Finance Ministry (Farrenkopf 1983:2-3).
The system became operational in March 1975, and did at that time include some 20.000 documents (published decisions of Bundesfinanzhof since 1950, responsa from the fiscal administration, papers, comments on important regulations from legal journals since 1972, cfr DSWR Sonderheft 1975:6. From the beginning, as much as 120 terminals were connected to the system. In September of the same year, the first user research was conducted to develop guidelines for the further development of the system.
As indicated, DATEV furnishes several services to its members - the legal information service is known as LEXinform provided by its Abteilung Rechtsdokumentation.
Currently, the data base is structured in 4 files (Farrenkopf 1983:3, 5). The data base contains currently (1983) some 60.000 documents with an estimated annual increase of 7.000 documents. The data base is available also on microform for off-line study of documents.
The first file contains all published decisions by the Bundesfinanzhof with the tax law cases of other federal superior courts (since 1950; selected decisions by the former supreme court of finance for the period 1918-45; selected decisions of the European Community court relating to Germany.
The second file contains decisions from the German finance courts (since 1972).
The third file contains all tax decrees and instructions in force issued by the federal and state finance ministries, and the superior finance directorates.
The fourth file contains papers, comments and expert opinions selected from 30 major journals.
In addition there are documents on the tax advisory professional law, and a test data bases in trial costs and family law. Also, in 1980 development of a
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data base for commercial and company law was started.
Documents are prepared through an initial "expert's examination phase" where the documentary superstructure is established - in principle quite similar to what is done in respect of the JURIS data base. With the exception of the literature file (which contains only abstracts), all documents contain the authentic text of the source.
Documents are then controlled by a DATEV system known as DADOCS. The files for the retrieval system are established by programs developed by DATEV on the basis of STAIRS.
DADOCS is also the name given to the DATEV retrieval system, which is a further development of STAIRS. All commands and messages are in German, and the STAIRS dialog has been simplified, and function keys can be used for several commands (cfr Farrenkopf 1983:5). Svoboda (1981:181- 182) mentioned three strategies of DATEV to make STAIRS more user friendly: reduction of original commands, combination of commands to macro commands and altering character commands to numerical commands.
DATEV does not require special terminals, but sets out some standards which terminals have to meet before being used for their services. For the future, ranking functions will be developed (Farrenkopf 1983:9).
DATEV maintains its own communication network which includes 21 multiplexers and concentrators.
For the use of LEXinform, a fee of 60 DM monthly is charged, covering up to 40 minutes of connect time. Further connect time is charged with 1.50 DM per minute (Farrenkopf 1983:7).
LEXinform is oriented towards the end user, but has made available an "Exec-service" through which questions will be formulated into search requests by DATEV specialists and stored into the system for subsequent access by the user. A current awareness service is also offered by LEXinform - each forthnight a selection of texts are included in a review.
It is announced that LEXinform will interface with
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the German videotex service Bildschirmtext, and a pilot-phase of this project has already been realized (Farrenkopf 1983:8).
As mentioned above, DATEV also publishes the journal DSWR.
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In Greece, the activity in respect of computers and law has been centered around the University of Thessaloniki. At the Seminar of private international law and comparative law there has been established a Research group on legal data processing, directed by professor D J Evrigenis.
The group hosted the Sixth Symposium on Legal Data Processing in Europe, which was organized by the Council of Europe in 1981 at Thessaloniki.
This group has launched a project known as INNOMOS, a name formed by the prefix "in" denoting "informatics" and "nomos" meaning "law" in Greek (Passias 1978:19 n 1).
Seminar of private international law and comparative law
Due to its background in an institution concerned with private international law, its data base will be case law within this area. The documents are identical to those published in case reporters, which are abbreviated forms of the authentic decisions, Passias 1981:8.
Subsequent to computerizing the reports, INNOMOS carries out three operations
So far the project has, however, concentrated on some of the problems which the Greek language poses to text retrieval (see for instance Passias 1978, 1981).
The Greek alphabet is, of course, different from the
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Roman - only 14 of the 24 letters are equivalent to Roman, and the system includes also diacritic signs to distinguish phonetically and graphically between words.
Greek includes two different language systems - "Demotic" and "Katharevousa" - coexisting in the same language area, having a common vocabulary but following different grammatical and syntactical rules, and also being mixed. Within each language, the possible number of word forms is remarkable high - verbs commonly having more than 50 forms.
It is expected that the research group will have made available funds for purchasing a dedicated computer system, and that a standard text retrieval system will be purchased. Up till now, the experiments of the group have been carried out using the general facilities of the University and ad hoc programs.
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It might be thought that Holland, a country renowned for its international and inventive publishers, would have pioneered legal information retrieval systems - as it has indeed in some areas of technical information. This is not so, however, and the situation is rather unsettled.
Quite early in the 1970ies, a foundation calling itself Stichting Juridische Informatica was established based in Utrecht, with a young academic lawyer, Frits de Graaf as the principal source of initiative. For a time the group centered around the SJI played a considerable role in trying to start some development in Holland, but in the later years no news have come form the group.
There is, however, at Erasmus Universiteit in Rotterdam a Workshop for Computer Science and Law, directed by professor Richard V de Mulder. This group is mainly concerned with deontic systems, but plays an important role in respect to teaching of computers and law.
Also at the Free University of Amsterdam there has recently been created a chair in computers and law, which is taken by professor Guy PV Vandenberghe. A Computer/Law institute has been created responsible for teaching and research in the field. Professor Vendenberghe is assisted by Anja Oskamp, a former research fellow of the Norwegian Reseach Center for Computers and Law. The Computer/Law institute is associated with the Dutch editoral board of the new Kluwer journal in computers and law, Computerrecht (see under the national entry for Belgium for further information).
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At the University of Groningen, a course in computers and law is taught through the cooperation of several lecturers.
Faculty of Law
Completing the notes on computers and law in Dutch universities, one might mention professor H Franken of the University of Leiden, who has used computerized methods in his own research.
Rijksuniversiteit te Leiden
There has been an initiative by the Ministry of Justice (1979) of creating a cooperative institution for providing a national legal information system. This presumed the participation of the 5 major legal publishers of Holland - Samson, Kluwer, Vermande, Vugia and North-Holland. This initative was, at least in the form presented, rejected by the publishers (Hainebach 1982:14).
In spite of this, there has been two interesting developments, one centered around the legal publisher Kluwer, the other around the parliament.
7.13.2 Kluwer JURID
Kluwer is a group of publishing houses, including the Kluwer Groep rechtswetenschappen based in Deventer, which is the major legal publisher of Holland. It publishes statutory material, case law and legal literature.
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In 1975, a project was initiated to create a computerized legal information service based on the publications of Kluwer. The system was implemented on the Honeywell Bull system of Kluwer of Ijselbrein, using the British text retrieval system STATUS, which was modified by Kluwer itself. The modifications is reported to amount to three man-years (Technical Study II 1978:68) and as much as 30 per cent is reported to be Dutch coding (Verschoor 1981:165).
In 1979, a pilot system with 15 users were launched. The users were picked to present a variety, and the tests of the pilot system aimed at gaining experience with the user needs. The test had quite a limited data base - case law from Nederlandse Jurisprudentie since 1973 and a selection of abstracts of legal literature - altogether approximately 10 million characters. For data entry, also a Kurtzweil Data Entry Machine (KDEM) was used for optical reading (Verschoor 1981:166). The test period lasted until 1981 and was actually extended to as much as 50 users, and 350 lawyers were trained during the period.
The test data base was called Kluwer's "Juridische Databank" (Verschoor 1981:163), but the system would seem later to have been renamed JURID.
During 1981 a commercial service was launced. In 1982, the data base had a volume of approximately 400 million characters with an annual growth of 120 million characters, and contained the following files (Hainebach 1982:16):
Case law, civil and criminal cases (since 1965)
Case law on expropriation (since 1972)
Case of the week (since 1976)
Cases of administrative law (since 1977)
Immediate suits at law (since 1981)
Fiscal cases (since 1975)
Data juridica, a bibliographical reference service (since 1972)
Guide for legal practice (since 1971)
Ship and damage (since 1972)
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Index to published statutory compilations and reference books
Intellectual property law (since 1973)
In 1982 JURID had approximately 130 subscribers. In addition to an annual subscription fee of 500 Hfl, the user pays a modest 1 Hfl per "search units". Hainebach (1982:16) reports than an average session of 15-20 minutes contains approximately 35 search units, making the hourly rate a corresponding 105-140 Hfl.
7.13.3 The PARAC - Vermande project
In 1976, a parliamentary documentation center was established under the acronym PARAC (Parlementair automatisering centrum) for both houses of the parliament. A data base covering three documentation areas were to be established, one on the questions and debates in both houses, one on press documentation and the last on legislation.
PARAC has based its system on the IBM text retrieval program STAIRS, and it is maintained that the system to a large extent is modelled on the system in the Italian Camera dei deputati.
The establishment of the data base on legislation was contracted to a private legal publisher, Koninkijke Vermande, in 1980. The authentic text of the legislation was to be converted under the supervision by PARAC - a text of some 200 million characters.
It is somewhat unclear under what contractual terms the project operated. Hainebach (1982:16) states:
"As access to PARAC was limited, Vermande decided to produce a separate Dutch legislation data base called NLEX ..."
NLEX is actually a data base operated by the Belgian legal information service CREDOC, maintained on the computer system of Belendis, the service bureaux also used by CREDOC and which is a EURONET host.
Initially, the PARAC legislation data base and NLEX was identical, but Vermande has enhanced the coverage
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beyond the limits of the initial contract. It is expected that by the end of 1984 NLEX will contain all Dutch legislation in force, a total of approximately 400 million characters. The legislation is in authentic form.
The situation is somewhat unsettled. The initiative of the Ministry of Justice is still valid as some sort of reaction to an unsatisfactory structure for a national legal information system, and the future will probably see developments.
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The republic of Ireland has not been very active in respect of legal information retrieval systems. However, it is reported that its traditional legal information services are not satisfactory, and consequently computerized systems are being considered as part over a general overhaul.
The Department of Library and Information Studies, University College of Dublin, made in 1981-82 an 18-month study of the feasability of introducing a computerized service. In this study two text retrieval systems - the Swedish system 3RIP (which has several strong aspects, and is an untraditional text retrieval system in many ways) and the Northern-Irish system QUILL - were tested. Though the study was terminated autumn 1982, a subsequent initiative has not been reported.
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Israel does actually lack a national computerized information service, but should be mentioned in respect of the major research project - the Responsa project. Its data base is composed of responsa, which are sources of Jewish law. Though the main thrust of the project is research, the system is used also for actual resarch - not only in law, but also in history, language and sociology.
The project is described in some detail above at sect 5.4.3.
Institute for Information Retrieval and Computational Linguistics
A few years ago, a "Jewish Law Service" was introduced in association with the project. This handles requests from judges and lawyers, giving them a draft opinion based on the sources retrieved by the system.
In 1982 a copy of the system (data bases and programs) was installed in Chicago, allowing Jewish law and Jewish studies scholars in North-America direct access to the system by telecommunication.
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There is an impressive activity going on within the field of computers and law in Italy. It would not be an exaggeration to maintain that at present, this is the country where the enthusiasm is highest and the activity broadest in Europe - especially in respect to legal information services. Ciampi (1982:16) estimates that some 2.000.000 documents are available through the Italian legal information services (cfr Ciampi 13-14 for a tabular description of the data bases).
The interest in the field dates back to 1962, when the first papers were published (Frosini 1972), and the Center for automatic documentation was founded in Milan (Ciampi 1974:693). This center has been mainly dedicated to solving documentation problems in the legal field, owing to the strong representation of lawyers on its board and staff. Among the projects undertaken by this center, one should mention the creation of a pilot model for computerized retrieval on a data base of fiscal law, performance tests for classification systems, and experiments with a system for the automatic classification of legal texts (the OROI project), Ciampi 1974:695 with further references.
At the end of the 1960ies, the Centro di Giuscibernetica (at the university of Turin) was established under the directorship of professor Mario G Losano. For a period, the Turin institution published a journal, Systema. At present (1984) professor Losano lectures at the University of Milan.
Several universities take an interest in computers and law and organize courses - though there is yet no dedicated chair. The courses are integratred in the computer science degree (universities of Bari, Pisa, Salerne and Turin), in the economic and political science degree (in universities of Bologne, Milan and at others), in the licenciate of law degree
[Page 397 ]
(universities of Bologne, Florence, Milan, Perouse and Rome). In addition there is given post-graduate courses by the IDG at Florence (see below), and for civil servants there are courses at the administrative university at Caserte - cfr Ciampi 1978, a survey which still (March 1984) is current.
A recent development has been the use of the Italian videotex service for developing a legal information service. The initiative was taken by Consiglo nazionale dei dottori commercialisti, which established a Commissione informatica. This commission has established a Banca dati tributari on fiscal law. The current data base (Coretti 1983:18) includes legislation, Community directives, income tax, value added tax, indirect tax, municipality law in respect to tax, etc. The commission has ambitions to elaborate the system and make different search strategies available, for instance an alphabetical index.
It should also be mentioned that some user research has been conducted in Italy. A rather general study is Rawlence 1975, while Ragona/Spinosa/Stoppoloni/Tesi 1983 is more oriented towards computerized services.
However, there are some problems also in Italy. Ciampi (1982:17-18) points out that currently the large legislative data bases are maintained by two organizations in parallel, that some data bases of literature are parts of three different systems, that there is a lack of coordination and lack of certain criteria for selection. He therefore suggests to establish mechanisms for closer cooperation and coordination.
This view may, however, be contrasted by Technical Study II 1978:66, which states that
"... there is coordination and data exchange between the legal data bases and other centres ... which is not found anywhere else in Europe in the legal field."
[Page 398 ]
The ITALGIURE project originated within the Corte suprema di cassazione, which annually decides some 12.000 cases. These decisions have since 1924 been processed by the Ufficio del Massimario e del Ruolo in order to extract from the decision a "massime" of the legal principles expressed by the decision - Schlagboehmer 1975:63-66 discusses the functions of this office. The objective is to satisfy the information needs of the judges themselves, and guarantee consistency in the decisions, Ciampi 1974:706.
The "massime" is prepared by specialists at the court. During the period 1942-49 there were attempts at having the judge himself prepare the "massime". This was not found successful - the "massima" became too specific in respect of facts and too abstract in respect to law, Ciampi 1974:723.
The "massime" averages approximately 1.200 characters (15 lines) with a title and classification number, replacing the ratio decidendi of the decision. The decision itself averages some 15 pages (Borruso 1973:32).
Before making a decision, the judge must consult the accumulated volume of "massima". It is easy to imagine that this became a slow and laborious task as the years passed - and that the volume of "massima" offered itself as a tempting data base for a computerized system.
The critical comments of Ciampi (1974:711-713, 721-725) are of interest when it comes to establishing a perspective on the ITALGIURE system. He points out that in publishing the decisions, the selection criteria are obscure, and that the authentic text of a decision is often replaced by a "massime" or an extract. In principle this may lead to the result that (1) the volume of published decisions lacks representativity or even objectivity; and (2) that the source function is impaired as the published massime or extract replaces the authentic text. In this respect, ITAL-GIURE should at least neuralize the first of these risks, increasing sharply the publication
[Page 399 ]
ratio. The second is more problematic, and would seem to require a supplementing document delivery service. Ciampi (1974:723) points out that the ITALGIURE system has been developed initially as an information system for "massima", and that the basic question of how best to design documents for representing the decisions of the court, has not been discussed explicitly in respect to ITAL-GIURE and the new technology.
The work on the ITALGIURE system started in 1963-64 under the direction of judge Renato Borruso, and the first experiment took place 21 March 1969. In 1970, the court acquired a computer (an UNIVAC 9300, cfr Laporta 1973:25). It resulted in an online text retrieval system which is known as ITALGIURE-FIND, running on Univac (1106) computers.
The system is operated by the Centro elettronico di documentazione (CED) of the Corte suprema di cassazione on the initiative of the Ufficio del massimario, which was founded 12 February 1973 (Gonella 1973). The ITALGIURE system does, perhaps, own much of its considerable success to the enthusiasm and activity of its staff, symbolized by the director of the CED, judge Vittorio Novelli.
Corte suprema di Cassazione
Several working parties have been established within the CED with participation from other lawyers, among these:
The CED work team for international relations
[Page 400 ]
This is not a system only for the court. ITALGIURE should be considered a national legal information system, and is at present (1983) - at least in some respects - the largest such system in Europe.
The most original aspect of the system, is the construction of the thesaurus. This basic thesaurus philosophy makes ITALGIURE somewhat akin to an indexing system - but as Borruso himself points out (for instance 1973:40) the selected method is quite different from a conventional indexing scheme.
In principle the thesaurus consists of all Italian words. The meaning of these words are then described (or defined) by a small set of basic words, called "semi del linguaggio" or "seeds of language", Borruso 1973:35-36 for a characterization of a "seed".
It would seem that the process starts with a manually identified lemma of the word, Borruso 1978:740. Also, grammatical variations of the same word are handled by the thesaurus (three types of regular verbs, adjectives, regular substantives of femininum and masculinum, Borruso 1978:744, as well as some prefixes (cfr Borruso 1978:753 and 755 for the two "roses" of lemma and prefixes, indicating the scope of the ITALGIURE system).
Each lemma is then defined by seeds. An example is given by Borruso 1978:779:
[Page 401 ]
Another example of how this definition by seeds works, is given by Borruso 1973:34-35, 1974:10, 1978:798. The word "incendiary" will be represented by the "seed combination" "fire and (destruction or diffusion)".
There are approximately 3.500 such "seeds" (Borruso 1974:9, Ciampi 1982:11), and they gererate the total vocabulary which has increased from 20.000 words (1968) to an expected 50.000 words (Tapper 1973:195).
A detailed description of the thesaurus, as well as the rest of the ITALGIURE system is included in Borruso 1978.
Through the seed definitions, the problems of synonymity, homonymity and hierarchical relationships are resolved. The seeds are organized in hierarchies; a general word will thereby imply all the specific words - for instance the word "animal" will include the word "dog", though the use of the word "dog" will not include the word "animal".
The thesaurus is also used to solve some geographical and historical problems. For instance, retrieving on "England" will get the user documents containg only the word "London"; retrieving on "Switzerland"; the user will retrieve document containing only phrases like "the Helvetic Confederation" or "Canton Ticino" (examples from Giannantonio 1983:16).
Italian is one language having problems with phrases - for instance phrases with a special, legal use and meaning. As an example of a syntagm, or what he calls "diabolical combinations", Borruso (1973:36) mentions "purchase tax". An Italian example is "diritto soggettivo", which used as two search terms combined with a Boolean and would result in "una massa enorme di documenti giuridici" (Borruso 1978:685 at note 1). ITALGIURE-FIND does not have a general distance operator, but about 1.000 such syntagms have been identified manually, and they may be used as single search terms. Programs are under development to monitor user dialog, and - when finding that several users are requiring the identical syntagm, which does not exist in the table, the system will establish this automatically.
[Page 402 ]
Ciampi (1982:11) points out limitations of the thesaurus today. It is not maintained regulary (cfr also Technical Study II 1977:66) and the language reflected is based on the "massima", which is only part of the legal language of Italy. Another problem of the thesaurus is its strong multiplication effect: Due to the hierarchical structure and the automatic inclusion of narrower terms and derviates of the seeds, the initial search request becomes imprecise and uncontrollable for the user. This may, in fact, be the main reason for its infrequent use.
Currently there is work going on for making it possible to look up in the thesaurus itself from the terminal, and derive information on words specified by the user. The thesaurus will also be maintained in an online environment (Rita 1983).
Giannantonio (1983:17) also reports that a synonym thesaurus has been developed in the same way through analysis of saved dialogues. These are examples of how ITALGIURE developes into a more intelligent system. We also consider it worthwhile attempting to exploit the information of the search requests, which few other systems seem to have tried.
Proposals are being considered to use the thesaurus for facilitating access to the system for non-Italian users, extending the definitions by synonyms in other languages.
It has also been reported that work is initiated to include "alarms" in documents in order to make the user aware of a link between the retrieved document and another document in one of the data bases. These alarms are specified manually, and a total of 100.000 such alarms are foreseen.
The data base has the three traditional types of legal sources - legislation, case law, and legal literature. A detailed discussion of the state of the data base is found in Borruso 1978:1035-1558. The document design varies between the files, and Technical Study II 1977:66 reports that users find the lack of coordination difficult.
For legislation, a first set of files contains titles for legislation and other legal instruments published in Raccolta Officiate (the official gazette) since
[Page 403 ]
1861. A second set of files contain the authentic text of national and regional legislation.
For case law, the decisions of the constitutional court, the supreme court (civil and criminal decisions), decisions of local courts, the council of state, the audit service, the military tribunals and the tax commission. Included are also decisions of the Court of Justice in Luxembourg of the European Communities and decisions of the European Commission on Human Rights.
For legal literature, all legal books printed in Italy and deposited at the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, Florence, since 1975; selected information on books procured by the Library of Congress, Washington; abstracts of legal papers from more than 200 Italian legal journals; references to court decisions in the literature; and the JURE data bank of IDG (cfr above). Cfr Castagnone 1983 for a discussion on this part of the data base. Ciampi (1982:17) maintains that there is some lack of coordination between the various bibliographical files.
Additional data banks contain ministerial circulars; collective labour contracts (since 1978); data on lawyers members of the Italian bar and law society; and legislation, case law and literature pertinent to environmental law (this is related to the ENLEX project of the European Communities, in which CED is one of the project partners).
There are plans to translate the titles of documents, at least of case law, to other languages to facilitate access by foreign users (Giannantonio 1983:21-23).
The system is terminal-oriented, engaging the user in a dialog. Search terms are selected without any restrictions, and may be combined by a full range of Boolean operators and distance operators. Borruso (for instance 1978:715-716) recommends a structure of the search request very similar to the one first proposed by Horty, and which is also basic to the conceptorbased strategy discussed above at sect 4.5.2 (3).
Truncation and a masking facility are available. The user may also retrieve on fixed fields by using what ITALGIURE calls "retrieval channels" - one channel corresponding to a field type.
[Page 404 ]
The search language of the original ITALGIURE-FIND system was perhaps not too user friendly. In 1976, the Institution of electrical engineers (INSPEC) was engaged to adjust the ITALGIURE command language to the recommendation of the Common Command Language of the European Communities. At present, CCL as well as the original ITALGIURE-FIND commands (in the FIND II version) can be used for retrieval (Giannantonio 1983:21).
FIND II still is a typical "descriptor oriented" retrieval language, and therefore not ideal for text retrieval. Most of the retrieval operations can only be made sequentially in a subset of documents after first having defined this subset by the previous search request. If in the course of the dialog the user wishes to extend the search request (for instance by using a new or-operator), the user has to restart the retrieval operation.
The user determines whether the thesaurus shall be engaged or not. If engaged, the thesaurus automatically transforms the search terms to seeds or combinations of seeds. The user may also modify the automatic transformation.
The system gives the usual kind of feedback to the user, but have also the possibility of some refinements - for instance "spectrum analysis", showing how the retrieved documents are distributed according to the values of the field ("channel") selected by the user, for instance date, author, or document type (cfr Ciampi 1982:10).
ITALGIURE is available by terminal. As Italy does not have a public data transmission network, the CED has had to create a special network for ITALGIURE. Within the Italian telephone company (SIP), concentrators were established in the exchanges of Turin, Milan, Venice, Bologna, Naples, Bari, and Catania. Through leased line, the CED computer and the concentrators were linked (the network made possible transmission rates of 4.800 or 9.600 bauds), and the concentrators and terminals were linked with leased lines used for 1.200 bauds transmission - corresponding to 47 trunk lines, each having 3-4 terminals (Giannantonio 1983:10-11).
[Page 405 ]
By 1978 more than 200 terminals were connected to the system, and in 1982 the number was increased to 400 (Ciampi 1982:10) and by 1983 it is reported to be approximately 500 with 400 requests for access pending. For 1984-85 an expansion to an additional 1.000 terminals in the public sector and 1.200 in local administration is regarded as possible. All Italian courts are now linked to the service. The Consiglio superiore della magistratura, which is the highest authority for Italian judges, has in guidelines of 14 December 1979 recommended procedures etc within the court for making best possible use of the service. It is, for instance, emphasized that the terminal should be placed
"... in easily accessible premises, adequately drawn to the attention of all those authorized to use it, in addition to the judges, lawyers, notaries, accountants ... taking care that an ... employee is always available in the ... premises" for helping in using the service.
This may be a response to the problem identified by Technical Study II 1977:69, which maintained that one of ITALGIURE's biggest problems at that time was to be found at the level of terminal office organization.
Originally its services were restricted to courts and public agencies. But 21 May 1981, the president of Italy issued a regulation (statutory instrument 322) which granted the public in general access to the ITALGIURE services (cfr art 1). This required an upgrading of the network, which took place 1981-82. The concentrators are now replaced by "intelligent concentrators" (Sperry Univac DCP 40) in Milan, Turin, Venice, Bologna, Naples and Catania. Also, they are connected by a mesh network to introduce redundancy for increased reliability.
The cited regulation of 1981 defined four categories of users. For the first category (government agencies in a broad sense) access is free of charge, users of the three other categories have to pay an annual flat fee between one and two million lire.
The terminals at the courts are made available to lawyers free of charge, usually also with a
[Page 406 ]
para-legal which will instruct in the use of the terminal and the search language. The chambers of commerce have indicated interest in establishing bureaux for the occational user, and in this context a fee of approximately 2.500 lire per question has been indicated.
It is estimated that there are 250.000 potential professional users of ITALGIURE in Italy, counting the members of the national and regional legislative assemblies, judges, lawyers, notaries, para-legals, academic lawyers and employees of public agencies (Ciampi 1982:16).
The number of "retrieval operations" increased from 46.984 for 1974 to 212.818 in 1978 and 370.305 in 1981 (Giannantonio 1983:2). A "retrieval operation" is neither a search request nor a terminal session, but any simple input activity of a user.
Since 1981 ITALGIURE has also been available through EURONET - the actual connection was made 20 December 1980.
The ITALGIURE is in close contact with is users, and every fifth year a big conference is organized with participants from all over the world. It is no exaggeration to point this out as the major event in the area of legal information services. The conferences so far have been:
The ITALGIURE maintains a number of international contacts. It has taken on work for the European Communities (cfr on the ENLEX project above at sect 7.1.4). An agreement between the Intergovernmental Burau of Informatics (IBI) and the Italian government made in 1982 a parallel system available in Argentine (cfr above at sect 7.1.2 and 7.2), and the agreement opens for similar transfers in the future.
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7.16.3 Istituto per la documentazione giurdica (IDG)
The most important research institution today is the Istituto per la documentazione giuridica (IDG - Institute for Legal Documentation), which was established by the Consiglio nazionale delle richerche 1968 in Florence as a permanent institution.
Via Panciatichi 56/16
Under the directorship of Costantino Ciampi, the Sezione di documentazione automatica (later named the Reparto d'informatica) of the IDG has contributed in several ways to the field of conferences - its international conference on "Logica, informatica, diritto" in April 1981, is one of the more important events in the brief history of deontic systems (Ciampi 1982, Martino 1982).
Its most visible contribution is the publication of the journal Informatica e diritto, an international journal on computers and law with papers in several languages, published quarterly since 1974. The journal consists of two parts, one which brings papers and other items of interest, another containing an international bibliography on computers and law, known as Bibliografia internazionale di informatica e diritto (BID). This is constructed through contracts with several centers and individuals throughout the world, and does for instance - cover Eastern European and Scandinavian literature, languages which otherwise are less accessible to international readers.
The Informatica e diritto succeeded the first journal of IDG, Bollettino bibliografico d'informatica generale e applicata al diritto, which was published 1972-73.
IDG also has created its own information system for bibliographical records - and one of these data bases are actually the BID, Ciampi 1974:732. For the BID, a structured thesaurus of descriptors has been developed (THES/BID), being the first major attempt to make such a structure within the area of computers and law The system may prove useful for those needing such a
[Page 408 ]
structure for library or other purposes (cfr Ciampi 1982:55 - the thesaurus is also published).
A more general bibliographical data base known as JURE has been established, containing "Dottrina e dibattito giurdico", corresponding to one of the literature files of ITALGIURE (cfr Borruso 1978:1569 at note 1) and based on an analysis of some 200 journals. Work on this system started in 1970 (cfr Jannucci/Ragona/Spinosa/Elmi 1977:77 and Jannucci/Ragona/Spinosa/Elmi 1978 - who include a discussion of document construction and auxilliary word and text processing programs). In 1980 IDG started to produce printed "abstract journals" based on this system, and has followed up with a user study which has probably given input for further revision (cfr Ragona/Spinosa/Stoppoloni 1983).
This system employs the IBM text retrieval system STAIRS at the Centro nazionale universitario di calcolo elettronico (CNUCE) of Pisa, which is also an institute of the national research council's structure. IDG has plans for supplementing the STAIRS installation by TLS - the "Thesaurus and Linguistic Integrated System" available for STAIRS.
The JURE data base is also channeled into the ITAL-GIURE system, where it is available as data bases (DOTTR) and into the the computer center of the Camera dei deputati, where they constitute the DOCT data base (cfr Ciampi 1982:12).
7.16.4 Camera dei deputati
Within the Camera dei deputati - the Italian parliament's lower legislative body - was created a computer service in 1969. In 1974, this was developed into an independent department named Schedario generale elettronico, which was again in 1978 renamed, more appropriately Centro per la documentazione automatica (CDA) which is currently directed by dr Rodolfo Pagano.
Camera dei deputati
[Page 409 ]
The center has several tasks (cfr Pagano 1978), but in our context, the interest revolved around what initially was known as the Camera '72 project.
In 1972, the Camera dei deputati established a Comitato per l'elaborazione automatica dei dati (CEAD). This committee was to explore the possibility of establishing not only a legislative information retrieval system for the parliament, but also a more general service for the statutes. At this time, ITALGIURE was still a project within the Corte suprema di cassazione.
The Camera '72 project had as its objective to make both national and regional statutes available in a computerized system. The start was made with regional statutes, and the center established a data base of more than 100.000 documents of regional statutes.
An agreement was reached between the Camera dei deputati and the Corte superiore di cassazione of a division of labour (Pagano 1978:23), under which the Camera dei deputati supplied the regional statutes, while the ITALGIURE organization took care of the national legislation. Consequently the legislative data base of ITALGIURE is fed also by the computer center of the parliament. The data base of Camera dei deputati will, on the other hand, in due time receive the national statutes (Ciampi 1982:11).
The parliament did, however, create an information system which perhaps, strictly speaking, falls outside the scope of our book, being more a legislative information system. This system is based on the IBM text retrieval system STAIRS run on an IBM 4341 and accessed by some 60 terminals (Ciampi 1982:11).
The data base of regional legislation is supplemented by the file on legal literature from IDG, which also is originally established under STAIRS (see above).
The main point of interest may be the way in which the Camera dei deputati have developed special linguistic programs within the computer center. Each word in the legislative file has been reduced to a lemma, and the various meanings in context has been assigned through a mixed automated-manual procedure. Synonyms, antonyms and "equivalent words" have been specified
[Page 410 ]
for each basic entry. A discussion may be found in Russi 1978.
The identification of lemmae is effected semi-automatically by using a computerized dictionary developed in cooperation with the linguistic department of CNUCE in Pisa (Ciampi 1982:11).
The system also includes a reference file of the legislative history, and historic versions of documents are stored and may be retrieved through explicit choices made by the assistance of the reference file.
It should also be mentioned that the computer center publishes a general journal on computers and law, which started out as a quite modest publication (named INFORMAzione automaTICA), but which is today a well-produced journal of considerable interest titled Notiziario di informatica, edited by dr Anna Cuzzer.
[Page 411 ]
To our knowledge, there are no operating legal information retrieval system in Japan at present. There is, however, an interest in computers and law - which is indicated by the presence of The Law and Computers Association. This Association also publishes a journal, the first issue which appeared in 1983.
[Page 412 ]
Luxemburg has no national computerized legal service at the moment. There is, however, established cooperation with the Belgian retrieval service CREDOC, which maintains Luxemburgian law in one of its data bases. This is briefly mentioned in the description of CREDOC under the national entry for Belgium.
[Page 413 ]
Mexico is a federal country of 31 states, and with the complexity of legislation and regulation generally encountered in federal jurisdictions.
In 1982, the first national conference on computers and law was organized in Mexico City, in cooperation between the government and the regional organization of the Intergovernmental Bureau for Informatics (IBI), the Centro Regional para America Latina y el Caribe (CRALC).
Evidently the federal government used this conference to construct a platform for further planning. The government is considering whether the introduction of a national, computerized system actually may be a short-cut to achieve a more efficient legal system in Mexico. On the basis of an internal report, the Mexican government has in 1983 been gathering further information in Europe - and a decision is expected in the near future (of autumn 1983).
The Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM) is a huge university, with considerable resources both in terms of expertise and otherwise. In 1940, an Institute de Investigaciones Juridicas was established at UNAM, and within this institute, there is a Centro de Legislacion y Jurisprudencia, which plays an important role in keeping track of Mexican law.
[Page 414 ]
This center considered using computerized methods for documenting Mexican law. A link was established to the French research institution IRETIJ at the University of Montpellier. Two of the center's staff - Claude Belair (who is responsible for the computerization project) and Guillermo Aguilar Alvarez, brought back methods and systems as a point of departure (Carpizo 1983:5).
By 1982, some 5.000 documents of federal legislation had been made into a data base. The system runs on the Burroghs installation of UNAM, and is programmed in ALGOL (Belair/Matute/Aguilar 1983:20).
In its initial version the system is derived from the JURIDOC system of Montpellier, also in respect to the document analysis etc. Plans for the future are quite exciting, and include experiments with retrieval based on fuzzy sets, cluster analysis and methods from artificial intelligence (Belair/Matute/Aguilar 1983:27-28).
[Page 415 ]
7.20 New Zealand
The initiative in New Zealand has been taken by professor John Miller of the Faculty of Law at Victoria University, Wellington. At this university there has been established a project known as CLIRS, an obvious abbreviation for Computerized Legal Information Retrieval System.
The data base has been established using decisions by the Court of Appeal and headnotes of the New Zealand Law Reports supplemented by some statutory material, tribunal and patent decisions. Case and legislation notes are being incorporated (Miller 1983:3).
The system used is the IBM text retrieval system STAIRS, which has been provided free of charge to the university computing center for a period of two years. It can only be accessed by terminals within the university - consequently only staff, students and practitioners who have access to the University library are able to use the system in the initial stage. An extention outside the University is planned, however.
The test period commenced early 1983, and experiments are scheduled for late 1983.
The CLIRS project is parallelled by initiatives by the New Zealand Law Society and the Government, both which have set up committees to assess their need for information retrieval services. The various efforts are coordinated through the CLIRS project, and it is thought that reports from the committees will be available at the end of 1983.
Cooperation with the New Zealand Council of Law Reporting has also to be established, as this organization is the only body allowed to publish reports from the superior courts. This make the permission of
[Page 416 ]
the Council mandatory for the operation of CLIRS (Miller 1983:2).
Miller also points out that the New Zealand system would profit from links to other data bases - especially UK systems, but also Australia.
[Page 417 ]
In Norway, developments of legal information services started out of academic interest. In 1970, professor Knut S Selmer at the Faculty of Law, University of Oslo, took an initiative in launching a research effort in computers and law. He recruited Jon Bing, at that time working as a research assistant at the Department for Private Law. In March, 1970 the first conference on legal information retrieval systems were organized by the Department (Bing 1970), and in 1971 the activity was organized within the Norwegian Research Center for Computers and Law, first as a section of the Department for Private Law, and from 1983 as an independent department of the faculty. Professor Selmer is still the chairman of the NRCCL with Jon Bing as associate professor.
Niels Juels gate 16
The work of the NRCCL has since the beginning been aimed at research, not at developing any particular text retrieval system. In the beginning, the NRCCL actually simulated text retrieval by using a suite of batch oriented programs known as PROTEST. Currently the NRCCL is using a specially adapted version of NOVA*STATUS extended by the program known as VEXT allowing vector based retrieval and facilitating controlled experiments in text retrieval. Also a number of auxilliary programs have been developed, and small experimental data bases are being maintained for research purposes.
The research of the NRCCL is organized in a program known as NORIS, and ranges from theoretical studies to controlled experiments and user research. The program has been briefly described above in sect 5.4.6, and will not be further discussed here. A review of the results 1970-79 may be found in
[Page 418 ]
Bing/Selmer 1980:119-296. Publications for the NRCCL are published in the CompLex series of reports or the special series of monographs, both maintained by the Norwegian University Press, cfr below.
The history of text retrieval programs are closely associated with the interest taken in these systems by the Government Institution of Organization and Management (Statens rasjonaliseringsdirektorat), which is a consulting and coordinating government agency with a special responsibility with respect to data processing. The director of that department of the GIOM, K&re Fl&isand, realized quite early that suitable text retrieval systems had to be available for the public administration in order to encourage a development in a direction of integrated text and document processing.
PO Box 8115 Dep
Consequently, in 1975 the GIOM bought the rights to the British STATUS I text retrieval system. The system was further developed in Norway, incorporating facilities found desirable like conceptor based retrieval strategies. The resulting version was implemented on a number of computer systems, including all university intallations, and was given the name NOVA*STATUS (an acronym for "Norsk versjon av STATUS"). It is estimated that the current version retains less than 30 per cent of the original coding.
NOVA*STATUS was widely used and was in many respect a very successful program. It supported the first examples of minor legal information services: Within the consumer administration NOVA*STATUS is used by the Consumer Council for a system documenting appeal cases, and for the Consumer Ombudsman it is used for a system documenting precedents and decisions by the Market Court. Within the Ministry of Justice, it was used for a system documenting the Ministry's decisions in respect of the law of land registries.
In spite of this limited success, it was found that a better text retrieval system was desirable. In 1980, the specifications of such a system was published by the GIOM, the system being given the name SIFT, an
[Page 419 ]
acronym for "searching in free text". On this basis, a project was established with the GIOM as director and the NRCCL, Lawdata, the Center for Humanistic Data Processing at the University of Bergen and the Norwegian computer manufacturer, Norsk Data (ND) as participants. Initial development funds were made available from the Research Council for Industry and Technology (NTNF), but the substance of the funds has been drawn from the GIOM.
The SIFT system is designed to be easily portable, to be modular, to have a file structure optimizing the conflicting objectives of efficient retrieval and updating, to have powerful help-functions and a simple, but flexible user interface. It allows for flexible and complex document formats and data base definitions, allowing for instance several document types in the same data base, and concatination of data base by user request. It allows browsing in historical versions of the documents, and also the use of external text files. It may be characterized as a stateof-the-art text retrieval system.
The system is currently (spring 1984) available in a prototype version, and has been implemented on an experimental basis in the Council of Europe, Strasbourg and several Norwegian installations. It has gererated some international interest, and will certainly be used (and further developed) for legal information retrieval within Norway.
The most interesting thing of the SIFT project is perhaps the focal point it has provided developing text retrieval systems and associated programs in Norway, an interest which draws on a number of institutions and which is closely related to legal applications.
In 1980 a Norwegian Association for Computers and Law was founded. The NACAL organizes conferences and meetings, and also maintains subscription schemes for the series of reports within the field of computers and law published by the Norwegian University press, the CompLex serie's. The CompLex reports mainly on NRCCL projects, but includes also reports from other institutions like LAWDATA, the Data Inspectorate, the Ministry of Justice, NACAL itself etc.
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PO Box 7557 Skillebekk
Also in 1979, a Legal Information Council (Rådet for rettsinformation) was created. The Council has as its members the major users of legal information services within the government as well as the professional bodies and law faculties. The Council was formally created as an advisory council to the Ministry of Justice, the chief executive of the Ministry, Leif Eldring, being appointed chairman and the Department for Planning and Budget being secretary to the council. This council is to act as a policy-making forum, discussing all issues somehow related to legal information systems, manual as well as computerized.
Department of Planning and Budget
To this complex picture of relevant organizations should be added that of Lawdata, discussed below. At the moment this structure is perhaps the most characteristic feature of the Norwegian situation. It has not come about by chance, but by planning.
One will notice that the NRCCL has remained a research institution, founded mainly through projects and carefully avoiding responsibility for operating legal information retrieval system. This arrangement is created in order to prevent that research priorities would conflict with those priorities considered necessary to adopt by an operative organization. The operative organization is Lawdata, offering a general legal information service. The Council of Legal Information is sufficently broad to resolve policy issues and provide a forum for discussions of possible disagreements. The Government Institution for Organization and Management has provided a basis for the development of computer programs. And the Norwegian Association of Computers and Law provides an informal forum for any interested person or institution to meet and discuss the issues.
It is hoped that this rather complex structure nevertheless provided two things: A functional
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division of responsibilities and an invironment were differences of opinions and priorities will ensure further dynamics and developments.
The background of Lawdata takes us back to the 1930ies. At that time, the Faculty of Law at the University of Oslo (which was then the only Norwegian law faculty) suggested to the government that a consolidated compilation of the Acts of parliament should be composed and published regulary. The government did not wish to make this effort, but granted the faculty a small loan. The faculty created a foundation (which in principle was private, but owned by the faculty), and using the facilities of the faculty, a compilation was created. This immideately became widely used because of its completeness and quality. The foundation paid back its loan, and from then on the publication has been secured. The foundation is an anomaly in its conception, being neither private nor public, and can be explained only by its rather curious history.
The compilation of statutes in force was still being published in the 1970ies, with one volume of approximately 3.000 pages (some 13 million characters) published bi-annually and still proving to be of considerable economic interest. It was maintained in the oldfashioned way by keeping the text in lead, and for each edition making the amendments necessary in the consolidated text by replacing or supplementing the text before making up the pages all over.
In the early 1970ies, it became evident that a total new version had to be produced simply because the lead were worn down. Actually, the last couple of editions was printed by taking one master imprint from the lead and then producing the actual books in offset from this master copy. Therefore, in 1975, the NRCCL on commission from the foundation designed a computerized system for the maintenance of the compilation. This was also designed for the additional objective of providing the basis of a computerized legal information system.
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The foundation established in 1979 an office for the changeover to computerized technology, naming this office Lovdata (an Norwegian acronym for Lovsamlingens datakontor) or Lawdata. They recruited as director Trygve Harvold - at that time working within the Ministry of Justice and formely a research fellow specializing in the theory of text retrieval systems at the NRCCL.
Niels Juels gate 16
Lawdata made the changeover by having the most current version (1979) of the compilation read optically by a Kurzweil Data Entry Machine in Stockholm. This was itself an interesting experiment, as the printing quality was low and the number of fonts high. Though the costs saved in money eventually was not major compared to re-keying the whole text, the savings in administration and time were considerable. The material was proof-read and supplemented by the legislation in the next two year period. Lawdata published the 1981 edition of the compilation with a saving of approximately 5 months compared to the old method.
In 1981, Lawdata also was made into an independent, non-profit foundation. This was achieved through an agreement between the Faculty of Law at the University of Oslo and the Ministry of Justice. A board with representatives from the two founders was established, and supplemented with representatives of the Bar Association, the Association of Judges and the Ministry of Administration and Consumer Affaires. Professor Knut S Selmer, representing the Faculty of Law, was made chairman of the board.
Though the initial objective of Lawdata had been the publishing of the compilation of statutes in force, it had at the same time been planning for a computerized service. In order to facilitate this, special input formats had been adopted - a universal format designed especially to be easy to handle by those entering the data (which have mainly been law students) and with sufficient information both for typographical uses and for creating appropriate documents for text retrieval. Actually the Lawdata philosophy is characterized by keeping the text as system
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independent as possible, and by integrating several uses of the same text.
It may be of interest to note that the initial conversion was made by a simple word processing program on a Norwegian micro computer, MYCRON-1, which communicated to the Honeywell Bull mainframe of the Government Computer Center. The ad hoc programming and inventiveness of the small Lawdata staff was impressive.
The next big project was the establishment of a consolidated data base of all regulations applying to the whole country. This included the identification of regulations actually in force, something which at that time was not known even to the ministries in question. Acting on a contract with the Ministry of Justice, Lawdata established this data base in the period 1982-83. The volume of this data base is estimated to approximately 25 million characters.
Starting in 1982, Lawdata also produces the official gazette (Lovtidend), which publishes all acts of parliament as well as all regulations. In this way, data is captured at the source and integrated in the existing data bases.
Currently, Lawdata has embarked on its third big project, establishing a data base of all regulations applying to districts or regions. This is foreseen to be terminated in 1985.
In addition to these major data bases, Lawdata has on contract produced a number of smaller and specialized data bases.
In 1983, Lawdata launched its computerized legal information service. The files included in this initial system, which is characterized as experimental due to the limitations of the data base, are:
NL - all statutes in force (20.000 documents), updated within one week of publication.
SF - national regulations (30.000 documents), regulations from 7 ministries (finance, industry, commerce, agriculture and foreign affairs) - all other ministries to be added in the spring of 1984; updated within one month of publication.
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HRA - decisions by the supreme court (Høyesterett), abstracts based on the case reporter (Retstidende) since 1961 (10.000 documents); updated within one month of publication. Extended back to 1946 in 1985.
Plans for extentions, apart from those noted above, include an index to legal literature in 1984, full text of supreme court decisions in 1984, and test data bases of administrative material in 1984.
Appeal and first instance court decisions will also eventually be included. Lawdata is in this respect, however, awaiting the outcome of the policy discussion within the Council of Legal Information. A report on the future use of such decisions is expected in 1984 - and this issue is somewhat controversial in Norway. Also, the introduction of word processing equipment in all appeal courts within the end of 1984 will change the practical possibilities significantly.
It may be worth noting that Lawdata operates under a license from the Data Inspectorate, and that the license is extended to saving the search requests of the user for statistical and research purposes (license of August 4th, 1983).
The Lawdata system is open to all users, and is operated on the Honeywell Bull installation of the Government Computer Center (Statens datasentral) under the text retrieval system NOVA*STATUS. Lawdata actually runs a parallel version for internal purposes at its ND 500 installation. It is foreseen that Lawdata will make the transition to SIFT 1984-85, and take an active part in the further development of this system.
The rates are split in a monthly subscription fee currently (1984) at 400 NOK, and a fee relative to the use of the system according to the cost algorithm of the Government Computer Center with an addition of 100 per cent to Lawdata. This amounts to approximately 400 NOK per terminal hour.
The service is available by dial-up or leased lines, using several communication protocols. At the end of 1983, Lawdata reported having approximately 70
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subscribers, using the system each on an average of 3.5 hours pr month.
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Spain is a country which quite early took an initiative, creating an interesting information system for treaties - IBERTRAT, directed by the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The system was based on a decret of 1972 (Etcheverria 1974:1) and inspired by the work of the Council of Europe committee on legal data processing.
The project started in 1972 by manual preparation of input data of the treaties, both bilateral and multilateral, of which Spain was a party. The next phase known as IBERTRAT I - was to computerize the results of the manual analysis - which would be a structured document of indexing terms for each treaty. It was planned that data processing would be batch oriented till 1976, when one planned to acquire a mainframe for running the system (Etcheverria 1974:6). In 1974, the phase known as IBERTRAT II or TITEB (an acronym for "texto integro de los tratados en banda magneetica") would be realized, in which the authentic text of treaties would be computerized. In this phase was also included the establishment of a thesaurus (Etcheverria 1974:9). The system was run on a Univac installation, but no report on the software to be used is available.
No reports are available on the possible further development of the IBERTRAT system. It is, however, still an interest in Spain for computers and law, and there exists, for instance, an Asociacion de Informatica y Derecho. Also a number of books have been published on the subject.
The most concrete reports concern the CENDIJ (Centro de documentacion e informatica juridica).
Fernando el Catolico, 1
In 1979 this organization was reported to offer a computerized retrieval service. The data base was
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divided into three files:
Legislation; which included the constitution and statutes published after 1979.
Jurisprudence; which included decisions of the Salas Primera y Tercera of Tribunal Supremo (civil and fiscal law) since 1978; resolutions of the Direccion General de los Registros y del Notariado since 1968; published resolutions of the Tribunal Economico Administrative Central since 1966; resultions of the Consejo Superior Bancario and circulars of the Banco de Espana; selected decisions and resolutions in certain areas of commercial (since 1951) and fiscal law (since 1967).
Bibliographical data; legal books since 1979, papers in the most important journals since 1978 and some selected areas like company law (since 1951), banking law (since 1951) and fiscal law (since 1967).
CENDIJ was reported to cooperate with a number of other Spanish organizations and legal information services of other countries. In spite of this, reports have been scarce - and it is not known of its current status or its relation to other Spanish initatives, like the Centro de Informatica Aplicadda a la Documentacion y Derecho (CINADDE) in Madrid. Literature also mentions a project known as SINADE ("Sistema Informatico para el analisis del Derecho", which was initiated in 1975 and experiments of the Compania Telefonica Nacional de Espana on teletext systems ("Teleinformatic Juridica"), Guanter 1977:518, 528.
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In 1973, Sweden passed the first national data protection legislation, a reform which has become known world wide as a pinoneer effort in respect to the protection of privacy in the computer age. To some extent, the fame of the data protection legislation has eclipsed the systematic work done in the field of legal informatics. Sweden was probably the first country to adopt a plan for the development of a national legal information system based on an initiative of the Ministry of Justice in 1966.
Also in other respects, Sweden is a pioneer. Computers and law (or "legal informatics") was made a compulsary subject for the law degree in 1977. This is one of the results of the activities of professor Peter Seipel, who since 1978 has held one of the few specialized chairs in computers and law in Europe. In 1967 professor Seipel created the Working Party for EDP and Law (Arbetsgruppen foer ADB och juridik), and his early papers (Seipel 1970) are basic to the Scandinavian development of computers and law. The research of professor Seipel himself is of high quality and diversified within the field of computers and law - and his perspective is summarized in his thesis for the legal doctorate, also coining a new phrase by its title, Computing Law (1977).
In 1981, the Swedish Law and Informatics Research Institute (Institutet foer raettsinformatik) replaced the Working Party at the faculty of law, University of Stockholm, with support from the Swedish Research Council for the Humanities and the Social Sciences. The research of this Institute is documented in a special series of reports (IRI-rapporter), available from the Institute.
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Faculty of Law
The research includes all areas of computers and law. In our context, the user research on the Raettsdata system is of especial interest. Highly interesting are also Seipel's studies on automatic indexing (1976). In addition should be mentioned the work on application of computational lingustics to legal texts. This effort is carried out in cooperation with the linguistic department of the University of Stockholm, in particular, with associate professor Benny Brodda and doctor Gunnel Kaellgren.
For several years a cooperation has taken place with another fascinating Swedish institution, the independent Research institute for quantitative linguistics (Forskningsgruppen foer kvantitativ lingvistik, or KVAL) of which Hans Karlgren is the enthusiastic and encyclopedic director. KVAL is perhaps best known for its system of trade mark matching, which is operated for the patent offices of Finland, Holland, Norway, and Sweden. The cooperation, however, comprises a number of additional relevant activities, among them the development of the experimental text retrieval system POLYTEXT (in cooperation with the Swedish Law and Informatics Research Institute and Stanford Research Institute) using some of the techniques from the research on artificial intelligence.
Sweden has an annotated publication of its major statutory instruments in force, which is generally consulted as an authorative system for all lawyers. This is published by PA Nordstedt & Soeners Foerlag, a private and major legal publisher which at the moment (1983) is considering an introduction of a computerized service of some kind, possibly in cooperation with others - cfr SARI 1982:107-111.
The Working Party for EDP and Law - which gave way to the Swedish Law and Informatics Research Institute - has also a successor in the Swedish Association for Computers and Law (Svenska foereningen foer ADB och juridik). This association organizes seminars and other activities, and edits jointly (editors for the first volume being Cecilia Magnusson and Olav
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Torvund) with the Norwegian association a Nordic yearbook for computers and law (Juristen i datasamhaellet). The first volume will be published by Nordstedt in the spring of 1984.
7.23.2 From RI to Raettsdata
In 1966, the Ministry of Justice made a survey of the possibilities offered by computer technology. The survey covered the whole field of authority for the Ministry of Justice, including police, public prosecutors, prison administration, courts and the ministry itself. The results were outlines in a brief of 1 December 1966, and at the end of the same month (30 December 1966) a national coordination council was established (Samarbetsorganet foer ADB inom raettsvaesendet, Freese/Skoog/Tael 1972:11) later renamed SARI (Samarbetsorganet foer raettsvaesendets informationssystem) or the Joint Committee on Information Systems in the Judicial Field. The chairman is the undersecretary of state of the Ministry of Justice.
Ministry of Justice
This council has coordinated the developments of computerized area within the field indicated above. A number of projects were initiated within the police and prison administrations - projects which the coordination council regarded as jigsaw pieces of a larger puzzle (Trotzig 1971). The emerging national justice information system was named Raettsvaesendets informationssystem (RI), and was structured in a number of stages. One such stage was the development of a computerized retrieval system for legislation and case law. This stage became known as LAGRI.
In 1981, the system was in principle made accessible for the public at large, and regulatory law (1980:628 Raettsdatafoerordningen) governs this situation.
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The LAGRI system was planned as a cooperative effort of several institutions within the central government. The Swedish tradition is to have relatively independent directorates, and these were given the direct responsibility of establishing systems for their own areas. This corresponds to a system established by law in Sweden, where the directorates and agencies have the responsibility of publishing and maintaining a compilation of its own statutes and regulations. Alpsten (1982:49) also emphasize the old Swedish principle of public access to governmental files (which has been a basic principle in Swedish government since the 18th century), a principle which requires that the public authorities keep track of their documents and encourage them to maintain efficient information systems.
This background has had several effects. It made the institutions very cost conscious, as the systems were constructed out of their own budgets. It also made the character of a jigsaw puzzle even more predominant - though despite excellent coordination, there has been no joint administration of the LAGRI system. The information systems used the same computer facility, the same retrieval program, and adhered to a common set of guidelines adopted by the coordination council. But priorities were set for development, scope of documentation etc by the independent directorates and other agencies.
The agencies cooperating within Raettsdata are currently (Seipel 1982:80) National Board of Court Administration (Domstolverket), the National Board of Customs (Generaltullstyrelsen), the Ministry of Justice (Justitiedepartementet), the prison administration (Kriminalv&rdsstyrelsen), and the National Tax Board (Riksskatteverket). The data base is organized according to the same scheme.
It should be mentioned that the Swedish parliament participates also on a trial basis with a parliamentary data base within LAGRI (cfr Alpsten 1978).
The combined files of acts and decrees specify all those in force (4.000), approximately 50 per cent in authentic form.
The National Board of Court Administration has
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included case law in authentic form from the supreme court, the courts of appeal, the supreme administrative court, the administrative courts of appeal, the labour court, the rent court, and the appeal council of the legal aid administration.
The National Board of Customs administration has included an index to its statutes and regulations and provisions in authentic form.
The Ministry of Justice has included an index of governmental committees with their terms of reference, an index of acts and governmental decrees in force published in the official gazette (Sveriges foerfattningssamling) and the authentic text to such instruments in force and an index to treaties in force. The conventions of the Council of Europe are available in English.
The prison administration has included an index of its statutes, regulation and internal rules.
The National Tax Board has included an index of its statutes and regulations, provisions in authentic form, and a selection of its decisions.
The emphasis was therefore from the very start placed on the user and on the administration of Justice. The practical view of the LAGRI system was refreshing. Not only the performance of the system in terms of retrieval efficiency was considered important, but also the feasability of the system in economic terms and in its organizational impact.
In this way, the LAGRI system emerged as a down-toearth system, without the extragavances of spectacular retrieval strategies, but with solid and practical results which could be defended on a cost-benefit basis. This practical character is partly due to the influence of the head of the Planning and Budget Secretariat of the Ministry of Justice, Boerje Alpsten, who has been the chief architect of the system.
The system is operated by contract with a public computer center, DAFA (Datamaskincentralen foer administrativ databehandling) in Stockholm.
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In the early years of LAGRI, tests were made in information retrieval using the IBM system DPS. This was not found satisfactory, mainly due to a lack of online features. A switch was made to the text retrieval system IMDOC.
IMDOC is developed by the Swedish company Industri-Matematik, and is available in several versions (like Documaster), including a mini computer version known as Factfinder. It has achieved some international penetration. It is a reliable, though simple, text retrieval system based on a quite straightforward Boolean search language, and with simple browsing techniques (including a KWIC-format for focusing on search terms or auxilliary terms within retrieved documents). The main attraction of IMODC is its efficiency in term of computer resources for storage and updating. The overhead (extra data gererated by search files etc in addition to the data in the original text files) is reported to be as small as 0.3 - 0.4. Cfr Alpsten 1975 and Leimdoerfer 1973.
A comparative discussion of IMDOC and the Norwegian NOVA*STATUS is given by Erikstad 1979. He states for instance that the disk space needed for NOVA*STATUS files are 50 per cent larger than needed for IMDOC's, mainly caused by the more complicated file structure of NOVA*STATUS.
The Ministry of Justice did set out with a simple version of IMDOC, which had only the Boolean and function, in addition to several other limitations. These did not seriously hamper the users, as most of them conducted extremely simple searches. This may, perhaps, indicate that some search languages are unneccessary sophisticated. The Ministry did, however, acquire a more advanced version of IMDOC with a full range of Boolean operators.
It has become known (autumn 1983) that DAFA considers a replacement of IMODC, but a final choice of a new retrieval software has yet to be made.
One of the more interesting uses of the system is
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made by the administrative courts (Kammarraetterna and Regeringsraetten). Here the system is employed for a double purpose. Primarily it is used to keep track of registered cases. A brief characteristic of the case is recorded when the case is filed in court, along with a number of standard data, like the names of the parties, journal numbers etc. (The form is reprinted in Samarbetsorganet 1972 Bil 1.) This creates a computerized journal which in one sense is shared between all courts, though located in different towns. This facilitates the coordination of the cases both in regard to procedures (two cases entered in respect of one person at two different courts may easily be merged), and with respect to substantive law (the court will try to avoid taking different views upon similar cases pending before different courts).
The system has also facilitated the interface between the public and the courts, who in their inquiries to the courts often do not have a journal number or knowledge of other official identifiers. The story is told of the postcard which was completely illegible except for the postmark and the first name of the inquirer. This was sufficient to identify the correct case.
The documents of the IMDOC system do have defined fields - like for instance the date of the decision. This usually presumes that the text retrieval system is also able to identify fields in a document. Such structure is, however, lacking in IMDOC. The difficulty is solved in the document design by adding prefixes to the data, and through the prefix provide a definition of the subsequent string of characters. Date is, for instance, defined by the prefix "A:", and the search request
will only retrieve documents decided on that day, and consequently having that date. A list of some of the most common prefixes is given by Seipel 1982:90.
The journal file, with the brief summary of a case, may also be used as a precedent file. It is, however, only for administrative use, and not part of the
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public Raettsdata system. It is a busy system, currently processesing 20. - 50.000 search requests monthly (Alpsten 1982:52).
But in addition to the journal system, a special precedent system has been established. Decisions of interest are stored in authentic text, as they are prepared by the court for inclusion in the annual case reports.
This demonstrates how the precedent system is locked into a greater, total system as an integrated part. The cases are first word processed (several solutions are used locally for word processing). Care has been taken to maintain compatibility in the system, and the decisions - when authorized - are channeled into the IMDOC data base. The same text is then used when producing the case reports in printed form. The printing is done by a commercial firm without extensive editing or the inserting of typographical codes. The integrated system for word processing, retrieval and printing, was an early example of an integrated legal information system - and the elegance of the solution should be appreciated.
Still one may disagree with some of the choices made. In order to obtain sufficient data for the printing process, some simple codes defining formats have been inserted into the text. These are also displayed on the terminal, thereby providing some puzzlement to the user.
This early achievment was, of course, facilitated by the comparatively small amount of documents channeled into the system, and by the coordination through the national council.
The case reports from the administrative courts were used as a data base in a controlled experiment in text retrieval conducted in 1974 by the Norwegian Research Center for Computers and Law in cooperation with the Swedish Ministry of Justice, Bing/Harvold 1974, including a description of the system IMDOC.
As mentioned, the LAGRI part of the system was made accessible to the public at large in 1980. DAFA is given the authority on behalf of itself and the relevant authorities to make contracts for terminal
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access. For the access, a tariff based on connect time is used for dial-up terminals, and a tariff based on transactions is used for terminals connected by leased lines. The tariff structure is reported to be under reassessment.
As Raettsdata make personal data available through a computerized system, it is subject to license from the Swedish Data Inspectorate. This license requires that DAFA by contract shall seek to prohibit the user from employing names for search requests - in this way strengthening the data protection of those persons mentioned in the decisions, which mainly will be judges, lawyers and witnesses.
In 1982, Alpsten (1982:52) reports that there are some 200 terminals connected to the system, of which about 100 terminals are for outside users. About 5.000 search requests are processed monthly, and of these 4.000 relates to the Ministry of Justice data base and the precedents of the administrative courts.
As part of the deliberations leading to the public Raettsdata system, a user survey was conducted in 1979. The results did show, for instance, a surprisingly tendency to very simple search requests on behalf of the user, though it may be doubtful whether this is a reflection of user needs or a reflection of built in characteristics in the IMDOC system.
A further study was carried out by the Swedish Law and Informatics Research Institute (Gredborn 1982) based on interviews and statistical data from the system. The conclusions are somewhat critical, pointing out that there is a lack of training (as in respect of so many current systems), and that the patchy coverage is not found satisfactory by the users.
The analysis of statistics is quite interesting, as the RI system has reported an overwhelming number of search requests containing only one or two search terms - in the tables of Gredborn 73 per cent with one search term and an additional 14 per cent with 14 search terms. Only 3 per cent of the search requests combine more than 4 search terms. The statistics do not specify the operators used. This is by Gredborn related to the use of retrieval in journals and of simple checks (1982:54). Another possibility may be
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that the design of IMDOC user interface does not encourage complex requests.
In a follow up study by the Swedish Law and Informatics Research Institute, the current statistics and its use is discussed (Andersson/Loefgren 1982). The conclusions are mainly an affirmation of Greborn's, and it is emphazised that the two quite different user situations of the system do create difficulties. Andersson/Loefgren 1982:31 maintains that the assessment of the Swedish system has been too much focussed on costs and system performance, and too little on user environments. A third study by the Swedish Law and Informatics Research Institute was released in 1983 (Wahlgren 1983).
It may be queried whether the administrative model adopted when the information system was reserved for the public administration is still appropriate when it has actually graduated to an open, national systems. Its nature of a jigsaw puzzle is evident to its users, and the data base structure - self evident from the authorities' point of view - do not correspond to the typical fields of interests of the users. As priorities have been set by the authorities on the basis of their budgets, some areas of law of importance to the private practising lawyer have been given little attention.
SARI launched a study of the new situation, and has drawn up some guidelines for the future work (cfr Alpsten 1983:9-12). In these guidelines is stressed the responsibility of the government to make available information of "legal enactments and legislative histories of different kinds", and it is pointed out that in the future design of computerized legal systems one
"... should devote particular attention ... to the interest of the general public in access to information".
These principles are applied also to governmental publishing of case law, but not in respect to legal literature.
As for the administration of the system, it was decided that the decentralized scheme should be retained, though the need for "coordination and collaboration
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between different authorities and disparate sub-systems" was emphasized. The participation of professional bodies - for instance the bar association - was not mentioned in this context. But SARI still has not completed its deliberations on the future of Raettsdata.
Sweden has also taken the initiative to a Nordic cooperation in respect to legal information services. These meetings are organized by the Ministries of Justice at irregular intervals in the different Nordic countries, the last - JUSTIS-DATA '84 - was in Oslo March 1984.
Switzerland has not yet established a computerized legal information service. It has, however, earned itself a place in the development of such systems through the initiative by the company Data+Plus, which in the early 1970ies developed a vector-based text retrieval system, CONTEXT 70, which was used for some experiments in legal information retrieval. The system is briefly mentioned above at sect 4.8.
Currently (autumn 1983) there are plans for systems in the major regions of Switzerland, and cooperation on a nation level seems to be emerging.
An interesting development is the SIBIL system, a computerized bibliographical retrieval system for legal literature. The system was adopted in 1971 by the cantonal and university library of Lausanne. This system has now been adopted by several other libraries.
The law faculty of the University of Geneva and Swiss Institute of Comparative Law are using the system using an integrated data base. The public and university library of Geneva, as well as the library of the Federal Court will follow suit. Plans for extention to Fribourg and Neuchatel are put forward.
Several other libraries have adopted the system, but have not integrated their data bases. In the Canton of St Gallen, there is a local network including the National Library of Lichtenstein. The University of Basle is using SIBIL, and several foreign libraries including the Ecole Polytechnique in Paris and the University of Montpellier.
The libraries using SIBIL have organized themselves into a network known as REBUS. Within this structure, microfiche catalogues are updated and produced every three months using COM techniques. On-line access is generally reserved for the staff. It is hoped to interlink the different system by telecommunication in the near future - already some of the libraries are linked and may search foreign data bases.
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7.25 United Kingdom
The United Kingdom is an extremely interesting jurisdiction. It has a long tradition - starting with the Oxford Experiments of Colin Tapper, and including the development of the machine independent text retrieval system STATUS by Bryan Niblett and Norman Nunn-Price. It has several prominent researchers, and an interesting organizational structure. But the first operative computerized information systems were not launched until the end of the 1970ies.
There were earlier attempts. Most prominent among these may have been TAXDATA, promoted by Henry Stone, an accountant. The system was to operate under STATUS II, and was supported by several administrations. However, the system never became operational (Technical Report II 1978:73).
(1) The STATUS project
One would have expected that Britain, through the early Oxford experiments of Colin Tapper (cfr above at sect 5.4.2 and 6.3.3), would pioneer the field of legal information systems in Europe. But this was not so. The first project of any scope was not launched until 1968-69, and then by an unlikely sponsor, the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority. This was due to the personal initiative of Bryan Niblett, a barrister and scientist (employed at that time by Culham Laboratories. He was fascinated by the possibilities offered by the computer (see his early paper "The Computerization of the Statute Book", 1968), and together with Norman Nunn-Price he created the first version of a text retrieval system, STATUS (STATUte Search) running om Culham Laboratories' KDF9 computer (see Niblett/Price 1969). This was a batch version, the first interactive version was implemented in 1970.
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Today, STATUS is one of the more well-known machine indepentent text retrieval programs. But initially the project had as its objective to make the atomic energy legislation retrievable by a computer program. This service never became essential, but the program itself became important.
Today, STATUS is the property of the Atomic Energy Research Establishment at Harwell, and is still being developed and maintained. It was perhaps the first example of a machine independent program (written in FORTRAN), which made the program more portable than other systems. It has been implemented on many different computers including IBM, Digital Equipment, ICL, Honeywell Bull. The STATUS I program was purchased by the Norwegian government for use within the public administration and developed in Norway into the program NOVA*STATUS - used for several applications, also for the legal information retrieval service of LAWDATA. The Dutch legal publisher Kluwer has based its legal information service on the program. And, of course, the British service EUROLEX bases its service on STATUS.
The original data base of STATUS was the Acts of Parliament and associated delegated legislation dealing with atomic energy - 770 documents of altogether 140.000 words (cfr Niblett/Price 1970:290). This was, of course, a too small volume on which to assess adequately the performance of the system. Additional material was made available by a legal publisher (Butterworth): 350.000 words of tax statutory law, including the full text of the Income and Corporation Taxes Act of 1970.
The first users of the STATUS program for retrieval purposes were, however, not British lawyers, but the Council of Europe (cfr above at sect 7.1.3). To gain insight into the possibilities of text retrieval systems, the European Treaty Series of the Council was converted into a data base at Harwell. The authentic text of both the English and French versions were entered into the system, each set containing 73 documents of approximately 200.000 words - see Price/Bye/Niblett 1974.
A user experiment was also made with STATUS, the data base being made available to Members of Parliament through terminals. However, the first British
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services turned out not to be lawyers, but the Chemical Emergency Service and Safety in Mines Research Establishment.
It is interesting to notice that in the United Kingdom, the development started with the tool rather than with the service. STATUS may be a general text retrieval system, but it was developed within a legal context for legal uses. It was a pioneering system, conceived as a machine independent text retrieval program rather than as an ad-hoc solution for the maintenance of a specific service. In this way, the development within the United Kingdom started in a way different from that of many other countries - where the motivation was to get some sort of computerized legal information service, and where the programs were designed ad-hoc and with little or no consideration in respect of portability.
We think this observation may explain the frustration felt by British lawyers when no service emerged - the tool was available, but it was not put into use.
(2) The Society for Computers and Law
Some of this frustration lay behind the establishment of the Scottish Legal Computer Research Trust, founded in January 1970 by solicitors in Edinburgh and Glasgow - later academic lawyers and advocates joined. The major achievment of the Trust was the report Computers for Lawyers by William Aitken, Colin Campbell, and Richard Morgan (who had earlier worked with Stephen Skelley in Manitoba, Canada). The report drew several conclusions on how a computerized system might best be introduced in Scotland, cfr Aitken/Campbel/Morgan 1972:135-1365. The conclusions were of a general interest, as they were based on an analysis of the legal information system and the needs of the users in a rather small jurisdiction.
One of the conclusions was that an organization corresponding to the Trust ought to be established for the whole of the United Kingdom.
On 11 December 1973 the Society for Computers and Law was founded. In a statement issued by the Society, it declared that it
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"... will try and monitor, where possible, the development of the use of computers for legal purposes and avoid haphazard development and proliferation of conflicting systems of information storage and retrieval, and other uses of computers for lawyers."
Since the summer of 1974 the Society has published a newsletter, which by now has grown into a journal, titled Computers and Law, and which is perhaps the only journal mainly concerned with legal information retrieval and office automation for lawyers.
The Society has become an important factor in the British development through its diversified activities. It has, starting in 1974 organized a biennial conference mainly oriented towards British lawyers, but attracting an international audience as well.
Following the discussion at the 1978 conference in Edinburgh, where plans for introducing LEXIS through Butterworths were announced with some flourish, the Council of the Society established a working party. Some months later this working party published an important report: A National Law Library - The Way Ahead. Some of its recommendations were acted upon, and the National Law Library was created - in the dual organizations of The National Law Library Trust and National Law Library.
The NLL was originally funded by professional bodies in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and after reviewing the work in 1981, this funding has been maintained (Campbell 1983:21). The NLL has undertaken
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several activities. The user research carried out by Colin Campbell and David Kidd (but regrettably never published in its original form), has been carried on an extended. The concern for documentation of sources from the smaller jurisdictions has been channelled into the private services, leading to the Scots Law Times being included in the EUROLEX data base, with a probable extention to the revised statutes of Northern Ireland - and also with probable similar development within LEXIS. NLL has been active creating intermediary services. Such a service has been launched in Northern Ireland, and it is suggested to establish a service in Chancery Lane, London. NLL has also been active within the European Communities and EURONET in forming the Committee on European Legal Intermediary Services (CELIS). Technical studies have been launched, and the successful development of the MicroBIRD text retrieval system for microcomputers is one of the major successes of NLL.
Through its various facets, the United Kingdom Society of Computers and Law and the National Law Library has created an effective organization for the legal profession to meet the challenge of the computerized systems: Both the legal information retrieval systems, and equally important - though outside the scope of this book - the automated law office.
(3) Universities and research institutions
No specialized academic or research institution for computers and law has emerged in the United Kingdom, but there are noteworthy activities going on at a number of universities and polytechnics.
The pioneers are still very much active. Colin Tapper, a fellow of Magdalen College, is an All Souls Reader in Law at Oxford University, and though his interests also embrace other fields, he maintains an excellent text book on the substantive aspects of computers and law, and takes a research interest in the legal information retrieval services. As a director of Butterworth, he is also involved in the venture with Mead Data Central and the marketing of LEX-IS to British lawyers.
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OXFORD OX1 4AU - UK
Bryan Niblett was for a period Reader in Law and Computers at the University of Kent at Cantebury, and is currently professor of computer science at the University College, Swansea. He takes an active part in the development of new methods and programs for text retrieval, as well as in the substantive aspects of computers and law - perhaps especially in the legal protection of computer programs.
Department of Computer Science
Colin Campbell is currently a professor of jurisprudence at Queen's University, Belfast, and his initiative and influence is clearly felt in the developments both at the university and within the jurisdiction of Nothern Ireland. Queen's was also the first university to introduce computer application in law courses (cfr Technical Report II 1978:71).
The Queen's University
The Faculty of Law at the University of Southampton is the institution which has taken the most direct responsibility for the new field. A small group centered around Stephen Saxby and Richard Swatton, and backed by the computer services of the university, has initiated several projects. A maritime data base is under establishment, documenting British case law. Currently (January 1984) the data base has increased to 10 Mb, and a Maritime Bibliography Database, covering journals, conferences and books has been started - having currently 1.500 entries.
This will probably be mounted on the University's ICL computer using the STATUS text retrieval programs. At the same time, the University has started to develop courses and seminars in computers and law. A one year course of Information Technology Law has recently been approved for undergraduate law students in the final year.
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The enthusiasm of the prime movers seems to have made possiblea team effort, and the activity may well develop into a permanent program.
At the Central Polytechnic of London, a "Legal Technology Group" has been set up, headed by Andrew Trew. This group seems intent on establishing some sort of bureau service, using several current legal information services - at least EUROLEX and Infolex.
58, South Eaton Place
At the School of Law of the Polytechnic of Newcastle upon Tyne, Michael Heather has taken an active part in developing a system for computer-aided instruction in law, as well as an experimental data base, using the SPIRES general purpose information retrieval program (which also permits text retrieval) available at the Northumbrian Universities' Multiple Access Computer (NUMAC), cfr Heather 1983.
The Newcastle Electronic Law Library (NELLY) was first planned in 1979, when no legal information retrieval service was available. NELLY currently includes English property law in authentic form (SPILAW); the expert legal retrieval system LRS developed by Hafner using conventional methods from the artificial intelligence research; the American Bar Foundation Processor (developed by James Sprowl, cfr in the section on the United States); and the analytical data base of crime established by "Justice", the British section of the International Organization of Jurists, to investigate the decriminalization of those parts of English criminal law being of a regulatory character.
In our context the SPILAW file may deserve the
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greatest interest, having been created especially as a teaching environment for students, but containing the whole group of statutes pertinent to property taken from the tapes of HMSO, complemented by some selected case reports, totalling approximately 13 megabytes, cfr Heather 1983:5. This would seem to be one of the very few text retrieval environments created especially for law students.
At the Leicester Polytechnic, a forceful initiative has recently been taken at the School of Law Resource Centre (LPSLRC).
An "Information and Consultancy Service" in "Computer Assisted Instruction in Law" has been introduced, offering CAI programs in law, in addition to several legal and general information retrieval systems (among these LEXIS, EUROLEX and LAWTEL).
At Leicester Polytechnic Law School has also been founded a Yearbook of Law and Information Technology under the general editorship of processor C Arnold. The first issue is announced for the summer of 1984.
At the University of Leicester a data base has been created at the Scandinavian Labour Relations Data Center, containing statutory material, law reports, journals and government documentation pertinent to labour law and industrial relations in Scandinavian countries. Work is undertaken to translate the original Scandinavian documents into English (part of the data base has been published as Alan Neal and A Victorin Law and the Weaker Party, vol III: Swedish Statutory Material, Professional Books, Abingdon 1983). At present, however, it does not seem that the Leicester data base is available through text retrieval, Neal/Roberts 1983:8.
Sharman (1983:12) observes that most law shools seem to have realized that computers and law is an important subject. He discusses the syllabus of "Information and Communication Law" introduced at the Polytechnic of Wolverhampton.
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(4) A note on unreported cases
To a large extent common law does, of course, rely on case law. The doctrine of stare decisis does actually give case law the same authority as statute law. Consequently, the information systems for case law are important.
Such information systems have for a long time been the concern of the legal profession. The authority of a case is, it would seem, not dependent upon its publication. But from the reign of Edward I, there were appointed some official court reporters who produced annual volumes of reports. The system deoriented, however, and in the latter part of the last century the existing publication schemes were heavily critizised. WTS Daniel, whose initiative resulted in a reform, complains that the reporting is
"... executed by many private and contemporary hands, who, sometimes though in haste and inaccuracy, sometimes through mistake and want of skill, have published very crude and imperfect (perhaps contradictory) accounts of one and the same determination" (Daniels 1883:6)
Supplementing the critizied reports, a barrister may act as an amicus curiae to inform the judge of previous decisions upon the subject of the case within his own knowledge. This is deemed sufficient proof of the existence of a previous case, and the judge may take that decision into account as a precedent when thought appropriate.
In principle, a decision gains its authority when given by the judge. But to be used in a later case, the decision either has to be published in a case reporter, or presented by a barrister in court. This would seem to have been the situation before the reform of 1865, and seems still to be the situation.
The discussions of the need for a reform strikingly parallels our present discussions within many jurisdictions. For instance the obligation of the state to maintain an information system of the necessary quality was pointed out, cfr for instance the report of the Special Committee on Law Reporting of the Society for Promoting the Amendment of the Law, which in
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section 5 of its 1853 report states (Daniels 1883:16):
"Judicial precedents are ... Judge-made laws ...; and if it is the duty of the State to make the Law of the land universally known, there can be no reason why the publication of the Law declared from the Bench should be less formal and less complete than that of the Law declared by the Legislature."
The reform of 1865 aimed at making a consolidated system for law reporting, or - as The Spectator of 18.11.1865 puts it (cited after Daniels 1883:289):
"The new scheme is the personification of one simple idea, namely, that the machinery by which case-law is preserved ought not to be the result or the creature of commercial enterprise, but should be supplied and controlled by the Bar."
Cases to be reported, were to be carefully selected (Daniels 1883:143-144):
"... upon the principle of rejecting all cases which pass without proper argument and discussion, or which are repetitions of the principle of cases already reported, or which are otherwise useless as precedents ..."
This ideology is the historical background of the present system of case reporting in the United Kingdom. Since 1951 transcripts of the shorthand notes of oral judgements has been preserved at the Royal Courts of Justice (at first in the Bar Library, since 1978 in the Supreme Courts library). Only a slight degree of selectivity seems to have been exersised in the indexing and binding of these transcripts. They were occasionally cited before the court, but the LEXIS service of Butterworths does especially make it an objective to include what is known as "unreported cases".
It would be surprising if such a change could take place without the old discussion of selection and editing once more coming out into the open.
In the Court of Appeal, the Master of the Rolls, sir John Donaldson, stated that
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"...the profession was afflicted, or assisted, as the case might be, by electronic data processing appliances, there was a real risk that decisions in cases ... which decided no new law ... would be solemnly recorded on the electronic data processing system, with the result that future generations of High Court judges would be bombarded with such decisions." Donaldson ruled that "discretion should be exercised when citing computer recorded cases containing no new law". (Stanly v International Harvester Co of Great Britain Ltd, 7 February 1983, The Times Law Report, London 1983).
In the House of Lords, Lord Diplock, supported by Lord Brightman, discussed at some length the use of unreported cases with special reference to LEXIS. He concludes his discussion (Robert Petroleum Ltd v Kenny Ltd (1983) 2 AC 192) by this recommendation:
"My Lords, in my opinion, the time has come when your Lordships should adopt the practice of deciding not to allow transcripts of unreported judgements of the civil division of the Court of Appeal to be cited upon the hearing of appeals to this House unless leave is given to do so; and that such leave should only be granted upon counsel giving an assurance that the transcript contains a statement of some principle of law, relevant to an issue in the appeal to this House, that is binding upon the Court of Appeal and of which the substance, as distinct from the mere choice of phraseology, is not to be found in any judgement of that court that has appeared in one of the generalised or specialised series of reports."
Some commentators have pointed out that the crux of the matter is whether the unreported case has any merit in deciding the problem at hand, not in which way this case have been identified - by computer or otherwise. Discussing the dynamics of the current situation, Bellord (1982:62) comments:
"Modern technology makes the pronouncements of judges ever cheaper to record and the computer offers the possibility of preserving every judgement in aspic and ever more instantly accessible. The traditional filter or digestive system is in
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danger of disappearing. A vast undigested mass of material is likely to accumulate in these machines and this surely raises questions over the whole concept of 'Precedent Law'... Food is attractive to the hungry but it kills quite a few of the rich."
The first general computerized service to be offered English lawyers was LEXIS. At the 1978 Edinburgh conference of the Society for Computers and Law, the president of Mead Data Central announced its cooperation with the major British legal publisher Butterworth.
The announcement caused a strong reaction - perhaps an intuitive response to being served from the other side of the Atlantic, and mixed with the disappointment of the work done through many years without leading up to any British service.
Butterworth offered the new service through an affiliated company, Butterworth Telepublishing.
4/5 Bell Yard
The LEXIS service is identical to the one described in respect of the US original service. It is actually served out of the Miamisburg computer facility of MDC near Dayton, Ohio (the route is actually through leased lines to Mondial House, City of London; Goonhilly Down; under the Atlantic Ocean to Beaver Harbour, Canada; onwards to Montreal, Canada; Washington DC, USA and finally Miamisburg).
Consequently, the search language, the customized terminals and the other features of the original LEX-IS service are also features of the Butterworth Telepublishing service. The US data bases (and also the French) of LEXIS is available for the user, if included in the subscription.
Butterworth Telepublishing actually buys the service
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from Mead Data Central, and are quite free to stipulate the economic conditions etc for which the service is made available to British users.
The data base was initially quite large (100 million words), and is currently divided into six British and European libraries.
ENGGEN - the English general library contains cases decided in the superior courts of England and Wales since 1945, reported in one or more of the following series: All England Law Reports, Building Law Reports, Butterworths' Workmen's Compensation Cases, Criminal Appeal Reports, Immigration Appeal Reports, Industrial Cases Reports, Industrial Relations Law Reports, Industrial Tribunal Reports, Justice of the Peace Reports, Knight's Industrial Reports, Law Journal Reports, Law Reports (Appeal Cases, Queen's Bench, Chancery, Probate and Family), Law Reports Restrictive Practises Cases, Law Times Reports, Legal Decisions affecting Bankers, Lloyd's Reports, Local Government Reports, Patent Cases, Property and Compensation Reports, Road Traffic Reports, Simon's Tax Cases, Tax Cases (since 1875), Value Added Tax Tribunal Reports, Weekly Law Reports. Included are also many unreported cases since 1980, including all cases decided in the House of Lords, the Court of Appeal (Civil Division), The Employment Appeal Tribunal, the Commercial Court, the Patents Court and revenue appeals in the Chancery Divison. In 1982, 4.286 unreported cases were available. The sum of cases in this file exceeded (1982) 37.000.
The library also contains public general acts in force (English legislation with nationwide effect). This data base was completed in December 1983, comprising approximately 2.700 separate Acts of Parliament and Ecclesiastical Measures, and more than 7.500 statutory instruments. The texts are edited and updated with an updating response of 16 days. And, finally, the current finance bill is available.
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UKTAX - the United Kingdom Tax Library, containing cases decided in the superior courts of England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland since 1875 and report in the general series of law reports, in Tax Cases (published by Her Majesty's Stationary Office) or (since 1972) in Simon's Tax Cases, and the VAT Tribunal Reports. The library also contains all the current texts of relevant acts of parliament and statutory instruments made under these. All current double tax agreements of which UK is a member, are included. Press releases, extra-statutory concessions, VAT leaflets and other documents are included, as well as the current finance bill.
ENGIND - the English industrial library contains all the cases decided in superior courts of England and Wales (including the Employment Tribunal) since 1945 and reported in general series of law reports as well as specialized series, supplemented by unreported cases (cfr the list in ENGGEN). All current acts of parliament and statutory instruments under these acts.
UKIP - the United Kingdom intellectual property library contains all the cases decided in superior courts of England and Wales since 1945 reported in general series of law reports as well as specialized series (cfr the list in ENGGEN), supplemented by unreported cases by the Patents Court since 1980. In addition, it contains all current acts of parliament and statutory instruments under these acts.
ENGLG - the English local government library contains all the cases decided in superior courts of England and Wales since 1945, and are reported in general series of law reports as well as specialized series (cfr the list in ENGGEN and Ryde's Rating Cases). In addition, it contains all current acts of parliament and statutory instruments under these acts.
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EURCOM - the European Communities library contains all decisions of the Court of Justice (since inception in 1954) as reported in European Court Reports, including cases not yet published in the ECR or the Common Market Law Reports. It also includes decisions by the EEC Commission relating to competition law from 1972. Earlier decisions (before UK joined the Communities) are translated for LEXIS and will be included.
Plans are announced for inclusion of libraries of Scottish law and "certain Commonwealth countries".
It is noteworthy that Butterworth has been able to establish a statutory data base. This is rather in contrast with their US counterpart, which has not been too active in respect of legislation. Actually, the Butterworth statutory data base will be the only source for an up-to-date fully edited version of the statutory text, as the officially published statutes in force tend to become rapidly outdated. As a conventional publisher, Butterworth has considerable expertise in exactly this area. It would not be surprising if the statutory data base, with its complete coverage, will be decisive for the market acceptance of LEXIS.
Butterworth Telepublishing charges according to a slightly complex scheme, which includes fixed and use charges. The fixed charge was (1982) a subscription (including a customized terminal) of 250 pounds a month, and a minimum usage entitlement charge (for less than 10 lawyers) of 100 pounds. The use charge includes a charge per hour connect time starting at 55 pounds and decreasing to 30 pounds for more than 30 hours monthly. In addition, there is a charge of 30 pence per "search unit", a search unit being based on the total number of occurrences of the words in each search request in the relevant file - each 25.000 occurrences or fractions thereof is a "search unit". This implies a minimum monthly charge (1982) exceeding 350 pounds, excluding local telecommunication.
User groups have been established - one of them a special LEXIS Educational Users' Group.
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The European Law Centre Ltd has been publishing European law since 1962. Most of its publications were in English, and the form varied - from, for instance, the abstracts in European Law Digest to the authentic texts of cases, supplemented by headnotes, in the Common Market Law Reports (cfr Worlock 1983:3). The ELC is actually part of the international Thomson organization, which for a period also owned The Times - and, consequently, the Times Law Reports.
In 1979, the development of a computerized service, EUROLEX, was initiated with Norman Nunn-Price, one of the twin originators of the STATUS system as data base director. A first and rather shallow data base of Common Market Law Reports, Fleet Street Reports of Patent Cases, and the Weekly Law Reports - followed by The Times Newspaper Law Reports was made available to pilot users.
4 Bloomsbury Square
This experiment was employed to get user feedback, which again was necessary for deciding the future policy of EUROLEX. The initial experience did, for instance, indicate that more than primary sources would be of interest to the users. Nunn-Price (1983:6) also maintains that the use of case law is more shallow than commonly held, and that a depth of 30 years is generally sufficient, though exceptions should be made in respect to certain specialist fields.
The initial phase lasted 18 months. In 1981, Nunn-Price was joined by David Worlock, who took charge of the organization. At that time EUROLEX had 25 customers and a data base of 300 million characters. A period of rapid expansion followed.
For retrieval, EUROLEX uses a computer bureau which maintains the time-sharing service and supports the STATUS text retrieval program, which is discussed above. It is reported (Nunn-Price 1983:14) that EURO-LEX feedback is going into a major revision of the program - and remembering that Nunn-Price himself was
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at one time intimately associated with the STATUS project, a close cooperation should be expected.
In 1982, a major legal publisher, namely Sweet & Maxwell, made an executive agreement of cooperation with EURQLEX. Many of Sweet & Maxwell's journals were already documented by EUROLEX. The agreement will facilitate the inclusion of secondary sources, of which EUROLEX found a need through their use study.
The EUROLEX has built what Nunn-Price calls "a catholic database" in order to respond to user needs, and this is still being rapidly completed. The EUROLEX has had to develop techniques for creating data bases. A lot of the material, especially the backlog, has to be rekeyed. An increasing amount is, however, received in machine readable form from printers. Their formats do, however, vary widely. Therefore EUROLEX converts all material into their own standard, intermediate form called EUROLANG, from which a program builds the STATUS format. This activity is supported by the EUROLEX programs run on a VAX 11/750 (Nunn-Price 1983:11).
The following libraries are available on EUROLEX:
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In cooperation with the merchant banker Morgan Grenfell & Co, Ltd, EUROLEX has also made available a structured tax law system called Interfisc, containing summary description of the taxation systems of more than 60 countries, comments, statutes on double taxation treaties, rates of withholding tax on dividend, interest and royalties, double taxation relief (EUROLEX Newscast 2/83:1).
In December 1983 EUROLEX introduced its NEWSLaw service, which is the first in a series of on-line legal newsletters designed to keep the practitioner up to date. The service is similar to that of its US counterpart, WESTLAW. It went live on 1 January 1984 and will be updated forthnightly (Ruoff 1984:12).
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In October 1983, EUROLEX announced that the Lord Chancellor's Department had selected EUROLEX for making a new index of decisions in criminal cases.
As LEXIS, EUROLEX has available statutes. The LEXIS data base contains, however, the statutory texts as they are published by Butterworth, that is consolidated and edited, while EUROLEX uses the statutory texts as published by HMSO for Statutes in Force - which may be a form somewhat less easy to use.
The tariff structure is quite simple and relative to connect time.
Currently (1983) EUROLEX has some 375 subscribers using the service through dial-up terminals (Nunn-Price 1983:1).
The EUROLEX data base is strong in patent law and European Community law (Nunn-Price 1983:8). Also, EUROLEX has met a point of criticism by including a Scottish data base, the SCOTLaw. It has been feared that the small British jurisdictions may not be sufficiently tempting to a commercial venture for providing users with services within that area. The SLT has, however, been a success. Later, the ITELIS (Irish Times EUROLEX Legal Information Service) has been introduced (Ruoff 1984:12).
EUROLEX has great concern for finding appropriate and user-friendly structures for their data bases. Worlock (1983:5-10) sketches a hierarchical structure from digests and current awareness material down to the authentic text of the primary sources.
The European Law Centre, as its name implies, has an international perspective on its publishing. One should also expect an international dimension in its computerized services.
This is actually found in its agreement with the US system WESTLAW to wholesale WESTLAW to their users. Since 1983, EUROLEX users may access WESTLAW through EUROLEX, and have the full benefit of the US data bases of WESTLAW. The price will be EUROLEX tariffs, and the contract is a simple addendum to the original EUROLEX subscription. Cooperation has also been established with the Australian Computer Law Services.
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EUROLEX has declared its adherence to a gateway policy - bringing foreign services in through national services as "gateways" (Worlock 1983:7-8).
It is also reported that the European Law Center has set up an Information Desk, an answering or bureau service, which has available several computerized services (CELEX, European Communities; ITALGIURE, Italy; QL Systems, Canada; SYDONI, France; and WEST-LAW, US) and to which requests may be made (EUROLEX Newscast 1-2/83).
In order to keep in touch with its users, EUROLEX has established user groups, and at least one such English and one Scottish gropus are working.
EUROLEX also cooperates with Europe-Data for the ELLIS project (European Legal Literature Information Services), and with the ITALGIURE organization for the creation of the Community data base of environmental law, ENLEX.
EUROLEX also cooperates with experiments in bureau services, for instance with the Legal Technology Group (see above), or Queen's University in Belfast (see below).
The European Law Centre is a publisher, but EUROLEX did from the start not only document this material - but supplementing this by material from other publishers as well, most notably Sweet & Maxwell. In this we see an interesting situation, as the two major British legal publishers are providing computerized services through different computerized systems - the EUROLEX and LEXIS. In this respect, the British situation is clearly different from the US situation (where the Mead Data Center originally was no publisher) offering competition to both traditional and computerized services of the major publisher. West. It may be said that in the UK, the competition still follows the same front lines, but its intensity have escalated through the computer systems.
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7.25.4 Prestel services
Britain is the home of the Prestel services, and it is no surprise to find that special legal information services have been developed for Prestel. In most countries, such services is a by-product of a general legal information service - like DATEV and JURIS in Germany, which make access through the national Bildschirmtext possible. In Britain, at least two genuine teletex services have been launched.
Infolex was founded in 1977 by Stephen Castell, a consultant in information technology, and Neil Maybury, a solicitor with a large, commercial firm. Maybury started to develop an indexing structure in which could be fitted notes on cases and articles, while Castell organized a data base. Infolex Service Limited was founded in 1977, and shortly afterwards became a Prestel information provider - having (1982) some 1.400 frames at node 371.
45 Brompton Road
Infolex may be considered a current awareness service, which seeks to provide the user with an overview of recent developments within specified areas of law. This is especially provided by the data base known by the acronym CLARUS (Case Law Report Updating Service). This data base is structured in areas, which is again subdivided - according to traditional, legal distinctions.
The area "familiy law" is, for instance, subdivided into "adoption", "affiliation", "domestic proceedings and Magistrate Court Act", "divorce", "domestic violence", "financial provision, "foreign decree", "infants", and "property". "Infants" is further subdivided into "general", "care", "custody", "guardianship", "wardship", and "Children and Young Persons Act", cfr Castell 1982a:24. Such an index tree has to be imposed on
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the material organized in Prestel also due to the design of the system.
CLARUS covers major reporting sources like Weekly Law Reports, All England Law Reports, Times Law Reports, Solicitors' Journal, Fleet Street Law Reports, European Intellectual Property Review. Extention to additional sources is being considered (New Law Journal, Estate Gazette).
In addition, Infolex supports a statutory data base known by the acronym STALUS (Statute Law Updating Service).
Of course, Infolex supports only the retrieval and relevance functions of an information service. To satisfy the source function, the user has to employ supplemental services, for instance a document delivery service.
Subscription costs are 350 pounds (1982) annually, with several introductory offers. To this is added the cost of using the system.
Infolex has demonstrated a gateway into the EUROLEX system (Castell 1982b) in 1980, and announced in 1982 what was called the "Infolex Bureau" in cooperation with the Legal Technology Group at the Polytechnic of Central London (Castell 1982a:25).
Lawtel is an additional current awareness service available through Prestel. Its documentation area is broader that that of Infolex, but it is more recent - and the depth of the data base is more shallow. Also, it has been maintained that the selection for inclusion is rather restrictive (Castell 1982a:26).
PO Box 6
For England and Wales, the Lawtel data base includes:
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Summaries of statutes since 1979; a cumulative statute citator with a one day updating response; summaries of "significant" statutory instruments; summaries of all provisions which have and have not been brought into force since 1980; summaries of rules and directions of practice and procedure since 1979; titles of "practical articles" which have appeared in "recognized" law journals since 1979; summaries of House of Lords' Decisions since 1979; summaries of "significant" decisions of the courts and tribunals since 1979; summaries of quantum damage awards in cases of death and personal injury since 1978 for which authenticated reports have been obtained; recent book titles; progress and summaries of government bills.
Lawtel also provides a printed index, and runs an around the clock answering bureau which provides its answers on closed frames in the system.
The document design is obviously of great importance in a system like Lawtel, and design principles are briefly discussed by Samuels (1982). Evidently, the retrieval function is not greatly influenced by the summary, but rather by the indexing of each document. The summary will mainly serve the relevance function. Samuels (1982:27) makes the point:
"If the primary source is likely to be readily available ..., then the barest reference will probably suffice. But if the primary source is not likely to be readily available ..., then the need to extract and summarise much more information, almost self-sufficient information, is obviously much greater."
This may be taken to mean that Lawtel aims at supporting the source function for less available sources. Samuels does, however, probably discuss only the relevance function, making the point that in respect of readily available sources, one may in addition rely on another information system as a "second stage relevance assessment", while Lawtel has to be self-sufficient in respect of the relevance function for those sources less available. Samuels (1982:26) points out that to have the sources made available,
"... you must go to the traditional printed sources or the screen services now available".
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The expansive Lawtel service is reported to have made an agreement with Butterworth, coordinating the Lawtel service with Butterworth's LEXIS service.
7.25.5 Northern Ireland - and the BIRD systems
In 1968 a project was initiated at the Queen's University, Belfast, in cooperation between the Computer Centre and the Faculty of Law.
This project aimed at developing an off-line Case and Statute Citator for Northern Ireland. Like other small jurisdictions, Northern Ireland suffered from a lack of appropriate research tools for lawyers - the last citator had been produced in 1953. It was hoped that the project could provide such an index, and at the same time contribute to a better understanding of the potential of computerized legal information systems, cfr Aitken/Campbell/Morgan 1972:25.
The Citator was successfully completed in April 1970. The project did, however, disclose several drawbacks in the system design - one of the major being that a qualified lawyer had to examine the statutes and underline the words to be indexed. As usual, it was suspected that the indexer was not as consistent and thorough as desired. But the main problem was the insufficent number of competent lawyers who would agree to do the painstaking and boring work of manual indexing (QUOBIRD 1974.)
In the Department of Computer Science and the Computer Centre, a rather large research group on interactive computing had been set up. Benefitting from this expertise, a basic design for a conversional retrieval system was drawn up in mid-1968, the planning period being extended to 1969, and a pilot system being implemented the following five months.
Based on the experience gained through these activities, a first interactive text retrieval system was designed and implemented, BIRD 1. This system was developed through 1970. Tests of the system on a data base of 400.000 characters and mathematical simulations led to modifications, and the final version was
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completed at the end of 1971 (Lancaster/Fayen 1973:102-103 for examples of the dialog and a brief characterization).
BIRD 1 had primarily been designed as a research tool to study on- line information systems. Changing the perspective to user needs led to a different basic design: A system adapted to be easily mouldable to meet the different needs of different user groups. The next system - BIRD 2, or more commonly known as QUOBIRD - was developed from 1971 to 1974, and in later versions its performance was enhanced. The system became available on a commercial basis marketed by ICL.
It was estimated that this version of QUOBIRD had required approximately 30 man years of research and development over a period of 6 calendar years. The resulting product was a high standard text retrieval system, written in FORTRAN and highly portable. The search language included Boolean operators, synonym functions, right-hand truncation, saving of search requests, etc - see QUOBIRD 1974 and QUIS 1974:33.38.
The work at Queen's continued after the first QUOBIRD system into a second version, diversifying into word processing as well. The more recent system of this family is known as QUILL - Queen's University Information Retrieval from Legal Literature. The link to the legal applications is indicated by its acronym, but the system itself is general, designed to store, edit and retrieve documents. The search language is still Boolean with distance operators and saving of search requests, possibilities for constructing macro commands, synonym groups and a "thesaurus of comments" within an index. Still the emphasis of the design is - perhaps - on file structures and internal efficiency (Devine/Smith 1980).
There have been reports on some cooperation between the BIRD and STATUS projects (cfr Technical Report II 1978:73), but details are not known.
The Queen's programs have been basic to the development of the MicroBIRD program for inhouse text retrieval on a microcomputer, sponsored by the National Law Library, see above.
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These retrieval systems are the result of a research project closely associated with legal information retrieval - though itself not part of any operative legal information service. Legal documents were, however, part of its text data base (Northern Ireland Constitution Acts, and Westminster Statutes in Force).
Professor Colin Campbell, one of the authors of the Scottish report (cfr above), is currently a professor of jurisprudence at Queen's. There has been active cooperation in Northern Ireland between the law faculty and the computer science department, and it is interesting to note that this development parallels that of United Kingdom as a whole: The start is made in designing the retrieval system - in the tool. But the follow up, the legal documents necessary to use the tool and launch an information service, is being produced at a slower rate.
For the Northern Irish lawyers, LEXIS and EUROLEX are not as useful as for their English colleagues - as sources from their jurisdiction is not documented. A mid-user service has, however, been launched using EUROLEX at the Queen's University, helped by professor Campbell and the National Law Library (Hewitt 1982:40).
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7.26 United States of America
The United States of America is a big country and a complex country. It is impossible to give a complete review of all the relevant activities on a national and state level. The history of computerized legal information retrieval is, to a large extent, also the history of its emergence in the US.
The development is nearly exclusively associated with the big systems within the private and public sectors. It is, for instance, surprising that there is no academic institution researching legal information systems or their use. It is perhaps also not unfair to maintain that the legal profession is not overly concerned with the policy underlying the development of legal information services. In a diversified country like the US, one may perhaps trust market mechanisms, but such an attitude is contrasted with the public involvement and general concern found in many other countries - for instance across the border in Canada.
At the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, professor Layman Allen is still working with legislative language, logic and law - an activity which continues to have a general impact on the field.
University of Michigan
At Rutgers University, New York, L Thorne McCarty is currently professor of computers and law. His TAXMAN project is within the field of artificial intelligence and law, but he is also taking a strong interest in the possible application of AI-techniques in information retrieval.
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Department of Computer Science
At Southern University School of Law, Baton Rouge, Louisiana professor Gary deBessonet is working on AI-applications, and there may emerge an institution from this activity.
The Arizona State University has actually established The Arizona Law & Technology Institute (ALTI), which organized its first successful conference on computers and law in 1982.
The Law Society
It should, however, also be mentioned that the American Bar Foundation, Chicago, where James Sprowl - as a research attorney - has made considerable contributions to the field of computers and law. Especially interesting is his ABF Processor, an advanced word processing system incorporating elements from AI-research and results of Layman Allen's work on legislative language.
1155, East Sixtieth Street
In the historical section (above at chapter 6), has been mentioned the three older journals which also report on developments in legal information systems.
Law/Technology (formerly Law and Computer Technology is published by
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Section on Law/Technology
Jurimetrics Journal (formerly Modern Uses of Logic in Law - MULL) is published by
1155 East 60th Street
Rutgers Computer and Technology Law Journal (formerly Rutgers Journal of Computers and Law) is published by
180 University Avenue
An interesting addition (1978) is the Law/Computer Journal The L/CJ publishes topical issues, and does from time to time discuss legal information systems.
PO Box 54308 Terminal Annex
The editor for the Computer/Law Journal, Michael D Scott, is also involved with the Law & Technology Press, which publishes at least two specialized newsletters. One of them (started in 1982) The Scott Report, is of quite general nature.
PO Box 4658 Terminal Annex
There actually exist a number of newsletters on the US market within the area of computers and law (covering such subjects as software law, tax
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law, data protection, freedom of information, computer crime, etc), but none specializing in legal information retrieval. After the termination of Callaghans Computer Law Service, there is no general state-of-the-art work being continually updated.
There exists also a Computer Law Association, Inc but this organization is mainly concerned with substantive law issues.
This book is limited to legal information systems oriented towards the lawyer as an end user - we do not in general discuss neither legislative, library systems or criminal justice systems. Obviously there are a great number of such systems in the US, closely related to our main subject - and it is often difficult to draw or justify a line.
One of the recent and ambitious projects is related to the US Patent Office. In the patent division alone, 24 million documents are on file, and the trademark division has 460.000 active marks. A four years plan has been launched to convert this huge amount of documents into computerized form by rekeying it using IBM word processor. 300 extra staff has been brought in to assist in this project. The possibility of networking this system with patent offices in Europe and Japan has been mentioned.
There is a profusion of legislative systems on a state level - a review and a discussion of a few is found in Eres 1980:1-126. One such system will, however, be mentioned briefly - the system of the Law Revision Council in the House of Representatives. This office is responsible for the consolidation work known as the US Code, where statutes are organized under 50 titles. The consolidating work started early in this century, but has never been completed. In 1975, a Law Revision Counsel was established in order to give continuity to the process.
The Councel desires to publish a consolidated version of the US Codes each 6th year. The publication has 15 volumes, and is published in cooperation with West Publishing Company. The 1976-edition was for the first time produced aided by computerized methods.
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In order to facilitate the quality of the editorial work, the Counsel established an information system based on the House Information System. This contains not only the authentic text of the statutes, but also the valuable notes and annotations. FLITE (cfr below), which also documents statutes, had a data base 3 years out of date - but has been brought up to date through the Counsel. From FLITE, the statutes are channeled into the Department of Justice's JURIS system - which is also available at the Congress.
The software used for this system is the IBM text retrieval system STAIRS - one of the few applications of STAIRS to a major legal information system in the US - though there are several such applications elsewhere (PRODASEN, DATEV, CEDIJ, Camera dei deputati, and DC-jura).
Our interest in the system is simply that it generates the computerized versions of statutes which at later stages are piped into the major legal information retrieval systems FLITE and JURIS, and cooperates with West, which is marketing one of the two major private services, WESTLAW. The US systems therefore seem quite dependant upon this system, which for the most part is operating behind the scenes of the legal arena.
Also the Library of Congress, Congressional Research Service should be mentioned. For one thing, CRS is directed by Robert Chartrand, who in the beginning of the 1960ies was developing the LITE service for the US Air Force (see below), working with the founder of legal computerized retrieval, professor John Horty.
One of the sections of CRS is responsible for legal information to the Congress - about 50 lawyers handling some 300.000 requests annually (1980). Originally, CRS wanted to automatize the production of the conventional "Digest of Public General Bills and Requests", and started out using standard IBM software. To develop a specialized system, Mead Data Centra (cfr below on LEX-IS) was contracted, but this did not result in any new system. CRS developed on its own the system SCORPIO (based on the RECON system, also basic to JURIS, see below).
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SCORPIO is a rather cumbersome information retrieval system, designed for the special purposes of the CRS, for instance for the production of "back-of-the-book" indexes to printed volumes. The system feeds the LEGIS system of the House of Representatives (which is another STAIRS-based system). The CRS utilizes both FLITE and JURIS (but not the system of the Law Revison Counsel).
Our interest in mentioning the CRS and the SCORPIO system, is mainly to emphasize that the organizational problems of legal information systems presumes some sort of coordination between legislative and library systems, and the systems aimed at the end user, both in the private and public sectors. Though not detailed in our discussion below, there are a number of important activities taking place in the US legal system - and these activities must, of course, be taken into consideration in an appropriate assessment of the US situation and systems. On the other hand, there are difficulties in getting a clear bird's eye view of the complex situation - and it would not be unjust, we think, to maintain that this to some extent is due to an unnecessary lack of coordination. This observation also leads us to believe that the situation is not stable, and will lead to future activity and development.
The two major US commercial systems are, as will be discussed in detail below, the LEXIS and WESTLASW systems. In the early days of the competition, some comparative studies were made (Sprowl 1976, Greguras/Carlile 1979). This occurred at a time when WESTLAW documented only headnotes, while LEXIS offered the authentic form of the sources. Obviously, they are presently unvalid for a comperative analysis, as the WESTLAW service has changed its policy with respect to document design.
It is reported that both WESTLAW and LEXIS are included in a recent survey by the US research organization DATAPRO of 24 computerized information services. In this survey WESTLAW is ranked before LEXIS, but no details of the survey are available (February 1984).
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7.26.2 From LITE to FLITE
Perhaps the most important project sired by professor Horty and the Aspen Corporation (cfr above at sect 6.3.1-2) is the LITE system.
As early as 1961, the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate at the Air Force Accounting and Finance Center began to look into the possibilities of using computerized retrieval systems. In August 1962 a proposal was made to the Headquarters of the US Air Force, recommending the conversion from manual to computerized research. The Judge Advocate General also recommended that such a system should be based on authentic texts. The proposal was approved, and the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate, Air Force Accounting and Finance Center, was given the responsibility for the development and testing of the LITE system (Air Force Letter No 177-6, 13 November 1963).
5155 East 39th Avenue
The name of the system - LITE - was an acronym for Legal Information Thru Electronics; and the system was of course launched under the tempting slogan Let there be LITE!
Originally the data base of the LITE system consisted of statutes and regulations supplemented with some case law. During the years of operation, additional material has been made available, and today the data base is fed through an agreement with the office at the Congress working on the United States Code.
Around 1970 the LITE data base was probably the largest collection of machine readable legal sources in existence (Tapper 1970:26). Later, however, other systems have eclipsed LITE in this respect. In 1974 the total data base comprised some 106.600.000 text words.
LITE was launched from the pad prepared by Aspen, but has been modified during its years of operation. The search strategies are, however, still based on Boolean and positional logic (cfr Rognlien 1971:25-29),
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and the system is still batch oriented, normal response time being one day to run the search request and additional time for communicating with the LITE center at Denver, Colorado. For on-line services, LITE has an understanding with the Department of Justice' JURIS system, which operates a statutory data base fed from Denver.
The users are almost exclusively within the Defence Department (though in principle the system is available to the Congress, the President's Office, and the Supreme Court).
At an early stage, LITE was put through a series of tests aimed at assessing the effectiveness of the system. The test lasted six months in 1964 and was conducted on a data base of approximately 17 million words. Search requests processed by LITE were compared with the results of parallel manual research by the users - amounting to a total of 215 separate questions. The result of the test has been presented as a confrontation between man and the computer:
Summing up the result, Davis (1969:9) argues that the LITE system worked on a 92.5 per cent effectiveness rate (the ratio at which computerized retrieval equalled or transcended manual retrieval), while manual retrieval worked at a 51.6 per cent effectiveness rate.
The results, as presented here and by Davis, should be interpreted in a critical perspective. In the test, one seems to have focused on the recall capabilities of the system, while the precision capabilities have not been illuminated. Other variables may also have influenced the result, such as a different data base in the LITE system from what was available to the manual researches. The recall capabilities of the LITE
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system is, however, well documented. In a test the Bureau of Budget processed a search request to which 137 citations were deemed relevant. Of these, LITE retrieved 128 (93.5 per cent), while by manual methods 85 (or 61 per cent) were retrieved. Tapper (1974:9) reports that an internal test has shown that the average LITE search corresponds to 18.5 man/hours manual search - making the cost of a LITE search 23 compared to 160 for the corresponding manual search.
The LITE system has also been used for production of hard copy indexes, selective distribution of information, etc. It may be offered as an example of a project created for legal information retrieval, but also as serving as the pivot in a legal information service where the processing of search requests is only part of the services offered. Tapper states that the production of indexes and SDI-services have in many ways become more essential to the users than the processing of individual search requests (1970:26). In fact, one may argue that a KWIC hardcopy produced by LITE is a small, cheap and portable extention of the batch system.
In 1969 LITE processed 2.682 search requests. The number of requests have snowballed over the years; in 1973 it was 21.558 and was expected to reach 30.780 by 1974. It is reported that ELITE'S searches increased by 25 per cent in 1981 compared to 1980, and that the annual growth rate for 1982 was 27 per cent based on the first seven months, cfr ALRIPC 1983:15.
In 1974 the charge per request was 50 dollars, the total budget 650.000 dollars, and the breakeven point consequently 15.000 paid requests per year (the charge is waived for users outside the Defence Department), cfr Tapper 1974:9.
During 1973 the whole operation of the LITE system was reviewed by a special committee set up by the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives. This committee reported back on 26 October 1973, recommending the continuance of the system.
One of the results of this review was the renaming of the system. It is now known as FLITE (Federal Legal Information Through Electronics), cfr Law & Computer Technology 1975:26. It is, as indicated, cooperating
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with the computer center of the Congress working on the US Code, and with the JURIS system of the Department of Justice. It has also an agreement with West Publishing Co, which furnishes FLITE with headnotes, getting in return statutes in computerized form. Though FLITE seems today quite outdated due to the batch mode in which it operates, it should not be assessed separately - but rather as part of a Federal network of systems, probably still in the making.
The FLITE system has the longest period of practical operation of all systems in North America and - we believe - in the world. Consequently, the early literature on this system is overwhelming. A selected bibliography may be found in footnote 65 to Robert P Bigelow's paper "The Use of Computers in Law", L&CT 1975:105. Scandinavian readers are referred to Rognlien 1971. A special issue of the JAG Law Review of November-December 1966 presents the LITE system, and a second edition was reprinted 1 July 1969 with some additional material.
7.26.3 JURIS: Justice Retrieval and Inquiry System
The JURIS project was initiated in order to give the attorneys of the United States Department of Justice greater possibilities of conducting legal research. Introducing the system, Kondos (1971:147) points out that there are certain "minimal standards of due process and equal protection of law" to be afforded all US citizens, and he goes on to state that often "fulfilment of these requirements depends on timely access to reliable and up-to-date information". The justification of creating a better information system is, as these remarks illustrate, not mainly a question of economy, but of the rule of law. As in the case of the Internal Revenue Service's system RIRA, JURIS was created in order to overcome the availability factors constricting access to relevant legal sources in the existing information situation.
Users of JURIS are the more than 4.300 attorneys in the Department of Justice, functioning as lawyers, and others needing access to legal sources in other capacities, including US attorneys and their staff in
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the 93 judicial districts throughout the country. In total, the Department of Justice has 54.000 employees (Rooney 1983:21).
The JURIS system is supervised by the Justice Management Division, which has been established in concert with the Attorney General to improve the administration and management of the Department of Justice.
Justice Management Division
The objective of JURIS is to make available to these users legal material gererated within the department itself, cfr Basheer 1973:55. This material consists mainly of legal briefs, memoranda, legal handbooks, form books, appellate briefs, legal procedure and policy correspondence, summaries of significant reported decisions, selected legal periodicals, case file intelligence, and evidential material for protracted cases - cfr Kondos 1971:148, 1973:2-1. The material exemplified here falls within the type of administrative decisions and opinions - a type of legal sources of great importance within the public administration, and of vital importance as regards the principle of equality. In addition to this, the total text of the United States Code is stored in the system (through an exchange scheme with FLITE), the Code of Federal Regulations, Opinions of the Attorney General (since 1971), and Executive Orders of the President. Under a contractual arrangement with West, JURIS receives weekly updates both of full text and digest material for its federal and digest files, cfr Croydon 1983:172 at note 12.
JURIS also serves as the basis for the LEAA National Criminal Justice Reference Service, which has more than 20.000 subscribers.
The total data base contains currently (Rooney 1983:23) some 8.000.000.000 characters, and more than 1.100.000 documents, among these some 143.000 federal decisions in authentic form, headnotes for another 145.000 federal and 350.000 state decisions.
The JURIS data base is organized in 6 libraries (autumn 1983).
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The CASELAW library contains US Supreme Court decisions since 1900; Federal Reporter 2nd series since 1962; Federal Supplement since 1970; Court of Claims 1956-79; Federal Rules Decisions since 1976; Court of Military Review 1951-1975; Military Justice Reporter since 1975; Atlantic 2nd Reporter for District of Columbia cases since 1977; Bankruptcy Reporter since 1979; Claims Court since 1982.
The DIGEST (which has West headnotes) includes Supreme Court Reporter (since 1961); Federal Reporter 2nd series (since 1960); Federal Supplement (since 1960); Federal Rules Decisions (since 1960); and Regional Reporters (since 1967).
The STATLAW library contains public laws from the 93rd - 97th Congress; United States Code (1976 edition including supplement V); Executive Orders (1947-83).
The WORKPRDT library contains Crimhead, headnotes developed by the Appellate Section, Criminal Division, 5th and 6th Circuit; and Tax Division's summons enforcement decisions.
The ADMIN library contains decisions of the Comptroller General (published 1921-82, unpublished 1951-83)); a selection of decisions by the Nucelar Regulatory Commission (1972-78); and opinions of the Attorney General (1791-1980); OLC Memoranda (1977-80); Board of Contract Appeals (1956-82); Federal Labor Regulations Authority (1979-82); decisions and reports on rulings of the Assistant Secretary of Labor for labor management relations 1970-75); Federal Labor Relations Council (1970-78); rulings on request of the Assistant Secretary of Labor for labor management relations (1970-75); selected HUD administrative law decisions; Code of Federal Regulations (1982 edition, titles 1, 4-5, 8, 11, 12, 14 - 16, and 26; Merit Systems Protection Board Decisions 1979- 80.
In addition there is a data base of Shepard's citations covering a number of different fields.
It is obvious that the data collection and
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registration of such a conglomerate of legal sources give rise to problems. To select significant sources, individuals in each section of each litigating division are appointed. The selected sources are indexed and abstracted, when possible by the author of the source. The source is then captured by various means appropriate - for instance through a data entry system or as a by-product of typesetting (as is the case of the Solicitor General's briefs to the Supreme Court, cfr Kondos 1973:3-1). The data base also contains 190.000 cases in authentic form, and headnotes for 185.000 federal cases and 470.000 state cases.
JURIS is an on-line terminal oriented system, cfr Tapper 1973:204. The first terminals in the main Justice Department building were installed in the autumn of 1972. In the other US attorneys' offices the installation took place in 1973-74. The initial development effort was terminated in 1974 (cfr Rooney 1983:22). In 1976, JURIS introduced a customized terminal by Sanders Technology with colour-coded keys - being the second US system opting for specialized terminals. A new version of this terminal was introduced in 1981 - Sanders Model II. JURIS can, however, also be accessed through other teletype-compatible terminals.
It is reported that the introduction of more intelligent terminals is being considered, which will incorporate an automatic dial-up facility.
Currently, some 200 customized terminals are connected to JURIS, in addition to an equal number of other terminals in federal offices throughout the country (Rooney 1983:22). Apart from the Department of Justice, 280 organizations and 60 departments or agencies have access to the system. Major users outside the Department of Justice include the US Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal, the White House Information Center, the Library of Congress and congressional committees. Currently, there are some 5.200 user identifications assigned, and approximately 1.500 - 2.000 users are trained annually. Monthly usage of JURIS in 1981 ranged from 2.000 - 3.000 hours connect time, representing an average of 70.000 commands per month, or approximately 8.000 searches (which presumes more than one command). Cfr Rooney 1983:23.
In JURIS we see a more modern system emerge, compared
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to FLITE and RIRA. It is a true "second generation" text retrieval system, oriented toward the end user and based on a on-line philosophy.
The retrieval program is based on an adaptation of the program developed by the National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA) for their Remote Console (RECON) system, cfr Lancaster/Fayen 1973:103-109, Basheer 1973:56. This is a retrieval program originally developed by the Lockheed Corporation, cfr Tapper 1973:204. RECON was created as a retrieval program for users requiring access to NASA's extensive technical library, cfr Kondos 1971:148.
RECON appears to be just one subsystem of the NASA system STIMS (Scientific and Technical Information Modular System). The file maintenance subsystem of STIMS is also included in JURIS, along with file maintainance routines from FLITE, and some special programs for interfacing the different subsystems, cfr Kondos 1971:153.
A number of retrieval strategies are available on JURIS: The basic strategy allows a full range of Boolean operators, right-hand truncation, and distance operators (both measured in words and sentences). The result of each search request is termed a "set", and these may be combined with Boolean operators as well. The documents are structured into segments such as opinion, citation and circut. Searches may be limited to one segment, and if none is specified, a default segment is selected.
A number of additional features make the retrieval strategy more flexible. The data base may be segmented by the use of prefixes. The search request CD/AUTO requires that to satisfy the request, a document must belong to the subset of the data base containing the US Code (cfr Kondos 1971:151-152 for a listing of prefixes and Croydon 1980:166-167 for a review of the search language).
Through a LIMIT command, the user may restrict his search to documents from a certain period of time. This chronological segmentation of the data base may be conducted initially or as a final restriction after having retrieved a number of documents.
Results from a search request may be saved in the
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system through the KEEP command. This is a function of great value, making it possible for the user to construct standard search requests employing them as building blocks in a number of requests.
JURIS has the possibility of incorporating a synonym thesaurus, but as far as we know this is not currently utilized. In order to remedy the difficulty posed by the specificity of the authentic text, the EXPAND command may be employed. Through the EXPAND command, part of the inverted file is displayed, showing which words in the data base (or in the segment of the data base specified) are alphabetically close to the search terms. The user may select synonyms from the displayed list, and expand the original request with these words. In JURIS, part of the West Topical Index is also contained, and the documents are indexed with West Key Numbers. Using the EXPAND command, the user may go into the index, explore the structure of the part of the index in which he is interested, and select appropriate terms for his request.
The JURIS system also has a number of ways of presenting the retrieved documents, among them a KWIC format with highlighting of search terms for fast relevance assessment. There are also a number of other commands not described here, for instance an EXPLAIN command for the inexperienced user. For a more detailed description of the JURIS search language, cfr Basheer 1973:58-63 and Kondos 1973:11-1-13 with examples.
A number of software amendments is reported to have taken place in 1981 - though the details are not known to us. The response time is, however, reported to be down to one third of what was formerly necessary, averaging 12 seconds per "search", compared to 35-40 seconds in 1976 (Ronney 1983:23). Also, JURIS changed from the Federal Telecommunication Service to a more reliable private network for communication (Rooney 1983:22). The system is currently available 14 hours per week day. Prior to the software amendments, uptime in the peak hours (10:00 - 16:00) was estimated to 92 per cent, which has now been brought up to 97 per cent - during off-peak hours it has been a constant 100 per cent (cfr Rooney 1983:23-24).
No objective evaluation of JURIS is known to have been made, but Basheer (1973:56) reports that in one
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instance, eight "search and seizure"-problems were researched concurrently, one attorney using JURIS, the other conventional methods. The first finished his search in 28.3 minutes, the second in 2 hours 20 minutes. Also, Basheer mentions an example where one hour of attorney time using JURIS uncovered 100 additional statutory citations after a thorough search by the Criminal Code Revision Unit. Tapper (1974:11) points out that these evaluations are clearly unsatisfactory.
In 1979, the Department of Justice contracted a private consulting firm to evaluate the JURIS system - comparing JURIS and "two other commercial systems" (Rooney 1983:22 - it would not be too risky to bet which were these two systems). Based on the result of this inquiry - "Automated Legal Research, an Evaluation report", US Department of Justice, Information Systems Staff, Legal and Management Systems and Procedures, May 1975 - the Attorney General decided in 1980 to continue developing the JURIS system.
Based on an Executive Order under the Carter administration, the Justice Management Division set up an Automated Legal Research Interagency Planning Committee (ALRIPC) to provide coordination of the further development of legal information systems. The ALRIPC decided to make a study of the potential federal users of such services, and delegated the design and execution of the service to FLITE. In the conclusions, the report (ALRIPC 1983:15) states that a "tremendous growth in number of searches and terminals" may be expected, indicated that this may be as much as 25 per cent annually.
The policy of US federal agencies is to avoid to develop and use public services where there are services available on the private market, and - even more strongly emphasized - not to offer such services in competition with the private service providers. This has proved somewhat of a problem to JURIS. We understand that to some extent it is controversial whether the service should be continued, or whether the federal agencies should rely on the commercial services which have been developed in the latter part of the 1970ies. Also, JURIS cannot easily be offered to the offices giving free legal assistance throughout the country. Though such offices to a large extent are finanzed by federal funds, they are in
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principle private organizations and, as such, the federal agencies are not free to offer them the use of their service in competition with the private services on the market. It may be said that in this respect, there seems to be a lack of an overall US legal information policy - which indeed may be difficult to achieve in a country so large and containing so many jurisdictions.
In order to achieve a better coordination with the private market, an experiment is currently being carried out, giving JURIS users access to WESTLAW and LEXIS by dialling up their own terminals. The users will be using JURIS for accessing federal material, while the non-federal data bases of JURIS are replaced by access to the two private services. Through these, selected data bases may be searched - initially three on each of the private systems. The experiment is currently (1983) widened to include the users of three federal districts.
JURIS is also being used for litigation support, and a subdivision of the Office of Information Technology, the Litigation Systems Staff, has been created to take care of these requirements. More than 50 special files are currently available on JURIS, though not all of these are litigation files.
An interesting and exciting experiment made by JURIS, is the Sensory Assistance Center at the Department of Justice itself. The SAC is established to assist blind or other people with an impaired sense of sight in using legal sources. The SAC employs a talking terminal ("Magg's Talking Terminal"), where a computer governed generator reads the text as it is printed on the screen - the speed being regulated by a joystick on the keybord. Printouts may be taken by a LED 120 Braille Printer Terminal. There is also an optical character reader (a Kurzweil Data Entry Machine) in the center and hooked up to the voice generator, and from this the sources existing only in the printed form are read aloud to the user. The SAC is a demonstration of computer technology being convincingly put into use as a tool for helping the disabled.
The point is brought home by an anecdote about the University denying a blind person access to
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the law study. A suit was brought against the University by the Department of Justice on the grounds of unjustified discrimination. The case of the Department of Justice was argued by a blind attorney who had lost his sight in an accident, and who had researched the case himself by the SAC. The Department of Justice won the case, as the anecdote states somewhat sardonically.
In 1964 the Ohio Bar Association created a working group for evaluating the possibility of computerized legal research. This working group concluded in 1967 that no satisfactory system existed, and that Ohio lawyers probably would have to create a new system. A subsidiary of the Ohio State Bar Association was founded as a non-profit organization under the name of OBAR, an acronym for Ohio Bar Automated Research Corporation (cfr Asman 1973, Harrington/Wilson/Bennet 1971:184). OBAR contracted Data Corporation of Dayton, Ohio, which in 1964 had developed a system for the retrieval of Air Force reconnaissance documents (cfr Rubin 1973:2). This retrieval system was to be developed further until it was found satisfactory by OBAR"s standards.
In the summer of 1968, Data Corporation was acquired by the Mead Corporation - a multi-national, diversified corporation with a very solid economy. Mead soon thereafter committed itself to underwrite computerized legal information systems. To manage the project, the Information Systems Division of Data Corporation was incorporated as a wholly owned subsidiary, Mead Data Central, Inc. As president was appointed Jerome S Rubin, who had looked into the operation on behalf of Mead while working for a consultant company, Arthur D Little - and Rubin proved to be a forceful and colourful spokesman for the MDC operation until he resigned in 1981.
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PO Box 933
In 1969 a prototype of the system became operational, and 15 teletype terminals were placed in lawyers' offices. MDC conducted intensive studies on how users exploited the system - and on the basis of the "Ohio experiment" it was concluded that the system introduced by Mead and OBAR was economically feasable and an effective approach to computerized legal research. The system was a conventional text retrieval system with Boolean and positional operators.
The teletype terminals crippled the first prototype of the system. In 1970 MDC replaced these with video display terminals, accompanied by hard copy printers, and with additional functional features, including effective browsing capabilities, cfr Rubin 1973:20. At one time, the display terminals actually used colours for highlighting (cfr Tapper 1973:19), but this version was discontinued. The current terminals are using reverse video for highlightling. For a discription of the first commercial version, see Lancaster/Fayen 1973:37-38, cfr 460-466 for search instructions and 76-77 for characteristics.
In 1971, MDC acknowledged that a national, text retrieval interactive service should be the goal, cfr Rubin/Krebs/Woodard 1973:16.24. It was stipulated, however, that the introduction of such a system should only take place through participation of the organized bar, which was all the more natural as the system had its origin in the bar, and MDC had been working in close cooperation with OBAR all the time.
The system, which had become informally known as the OBAR system, was now redesigned - and at the beginning of 1973 it was launched as a national computerized legal research service under the name LEXIS. Since then it has grown rapidly.
MDC does not publish figures for its number of subscribers, but until 1980 as much as 90.000 lawyers is said to have been given an introduction to LEXIS. All law offices in the US with more than 100 lawyers, are said to subscribe to LEXIS - but it is sold even to
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smaller offices (10-20 laywers and less). A number of federal and public agencies use the system, and law schools are offered the system on reduced rates with restrictions for use in peak time. It is estimated that LEXIS processes approximately 25.000 requests per day (1982).
Three features of the LEXIS system should be pointed out: The emphasis put on hardware and reliability, the philosophy behind the retrieval programs, and the way in which the challenge of data base generation and maintenance has been met.
LEXIS operates out of a dedicated computer installation in Dayton, Ohio, basing itself on two mainframes (IBM-compatible Amdahls). All the programs have been written by MDC - including the terminal handling programs and modification of the original operating system. LEXIS maintains that it has one of the most reliable computer installations on record. The service is available on a 22 hour per day basis on workdays, and 12 hours on holidays.
The service is available through display terminals designed for easy use by the lawyer. The terminals have been especially designed for LEXIS, and are of a standard and an executive (desk top) type called UBIQ for ubiquitous. The UBICs cluster around concentrators - some firms having as much as 100 UBIQs (an example is given by Kaynor/McMorrow 1982:31). The terminals feature at keyboard with a number of non-standard function keys ("next case", "KWIC", "search", etc), and several options of hardcopy printers. They are consciously designed to reassure the user that no technical know-how is necessary for using the equipment.
The service is available only through the customized terminals, and this has certainly been a controversial aspect of MDC services. It should be born in mind that at the time LEXIS was launched, there were probably no standard display terminals around which satisfied the rather strict standards of MDC. This has changed radically during the years in which the system has been available, and in a situation where a terminal is interfacing a computer network with a number of available information services, the MDC philosophy would seem quite difficult to sustain. Unconfirmed information maintains that MDC has now
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accepted non-customized terminals to be hooked into the LEXIS system, but that they have to conform to the standards set by MDC. This may signal a greater flexibility with respect to the MDC policy on terminals.
Actually, it has become known by the autumn of 1983 that MDC has made an agreement with IBM to give the IBM personal computer an interface to LEXIS. This heralds a major policy change, and should also be seen as part of IBM's strategy of making their PC a lawyer's working station. IBM may make similar deals with for instance West, which would make the same PC (which would have integrated modems and automatic dial-up facilities) interface several major information services.
Response time in the LEXIS system is very short for more than 90 per cent of all search requests less than 15 seconds, for all other commands 1 second or less, cfr Rubin 1973:31. Performance specifications, including response time, are guaranteed in MDC's sponsoring organization contracts, which are incorporated in the agreement with subscribers (cfr appendix to Moon/Oskamp 1983).
The system is fast and reliable. It should be recognized that this basic reliability was no small achievement at the time when the service was launched, and and that this level of achievment was reached only after major investments. This only indirectly affects the legal retrieval system, but it is our belief that without the confidence invited by the sturdy and reliable service offered by LEXIS, it would indeed have been difficult to make the venture a commercial success. Probably it has also paved the way for later ventures, both in the US and elsewhere, demonstrating that a reliable computerized legal retrieval service could be offered to the end user on a nationwide basis.
The second feature is the philosophy behind the retrieval system itself. LEXIS has been described as a "computerized reading glass", and in many respects this is a good characterization of its basic design. Great care has been taken to provide fast access to retrieved documents, to facilitate browsing, etc. For instance a KWIC format is available - that section of
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the retrieved document which contains the terms of the search request is displayed on the screen with the terms highlighted. The documents of LEXIS - mainly representing case law - are lacking in the US data base headnotes. As discussed above under sect 3.3.3 (3), abstracts facilitate relevance assessment. In order to compensate for this deficiency of functional performance in document design, LEXIS has emphasized good and powerful browsing capabilities - it is easier to flip through the screens on the LEXIS terminal, than to thumb through cases in a conventional library (cfr Rubin 1973:31).
The KWIC format has aroused the enthusiasm of lawyers. One of the special uses to which the format is put, is the listing of citations. Using a citation as a search request, all documents citing the case will be retrieved and the bit of text embedding the citation may be printed out. Preston (1971:191) points out with gusto that what earlier would require "lawyer time" now might "be done by a girl at the console" (!) - coining the term "obarizing" for this retrieval strategy as a parallell to "Shepardizing", which implies using the traditional Shepard's citation index. The strategy is now informally called "LEXISing" - and MDC stresses that the lawyer himself can best determine the usefulness of the citations presented on the terminal.
Citations were also implemented in an index being the result of a collaborative effort between MDC the Lawyers Co-operative Publishing Company and its affiliate, Bancroft-Whitney, known as Auto-Cite (Kaynor/McMorrow 1982:29). Though of excellent quality, lawyers seemed to prefer the Shepard's citation index (published by Shepard, now acquired by McGraw Hill) - which was implemented on the competing WESTLAW system in a very elegant manner. Since 1982 LEXIS has acquired license to use the Shepard's index as well.
LEXIS also includes references to case reporters - to West's as well as reporters published by others. These costs are covered by the publishers, who see an advantage in having such citations included.
Search requests are formulated in a conventional manner using Boolean and positional operators, and priority between these may be determined by parenthesises. A request may be formulated in a series of
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"levels", and earlier levels may be modified to amend the request. A request may be carried from one library to the next, but no general facility for saving requests is available. Also no ranking can be made of the documents, but they are presented to the user in reverse chronological order. The MDC has kept the search language rather simple, not offering a range of sophisticated techniques for searching. The emphasis has been put on making a stable and quite transparent system.
The sophistication is, however, introduced behind the scenes by the most recent release of the retrieval software - LEXIS 80 (1980). This has been described as a "forgiving system", cushioning the user with several forms of aid. Though having no general thesaurus function, LEXIS has automatic expansion of search terms to plurals, and inflexions of verbs. A universal character provides a masking function (including truncation), which can be used to replace any of the letters of the search term, excluding the first letter or letters. Violations of the syntax of the search language will not always lead to a reject from the system, but a tentative interpretation which will be processed if the user confirms by pressing the enter key.
The HELP function is also very advanced and dynamic, using information of where the user exits the system to provide pertinent help. The HELP function is actually integrated in the computer assisted instruction program available for LEXIS - the pertinent point is explained through a CAI dialogue.
Also, several distance operators may be used in a sequence. Actually, LEXIS distance operators work only on words, not on sentences or sections - which may be somewhat surprising, as the two latter elements have a semantic reference which make them very suitable as distance delimeters.
Though impressive, the retrieval program lacks several features often incorporated in text retrieval programs, and often considered important. The user cannot save and refer back to former requests (with the exception of the level by level amendment of the current query), and one cannot focus within a retrieved document with a term different from the search term.
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MDC maintains that most requests are quite simple by structure, and that emphasis should be put on the "reading glass"-function rather than on sophisticated search functions - implying a slightly higher priority to the relevance assessment than perhaps usually found in computerized systems. In a fast system, the user may flip through a few irrelevant documents without being irritated, and the final relevance assessment must nevertheless be with the user.
The MDC has emphasized that their service (as, indeed the service of most legal text retrieval systems) is designed for the end user. Many systems have reported an unexpected use by mid-users, and a reason for this has clearly been too complicated user interfaces. One would expect this trend to be predominant also in the US, where there has been an explosive growth in the employment of para-legals by law firms during the 1970ies. MDC maintains that there is a current trend away from mid-users, citing their own presumably reliable (though unpublished) user surveys as a source.
The MDC arguments for their philosophy are sound and down to earth. Nevertheless, one may have a more powerful search language without losing the qualities given priority by MDC.
The education of users and the cooperation with the bar associations should also be mentioned. It is generally recognized that the education of a user is crucial and difficult, and like other commercial services, MDC sells their educational programs along with the initial subscription. Through the cooperation with the bar associations, MDC has access to user opinion and experience. This continuous feedback has certainly been one of the factors which during the first years determined what parts of the system should be given highest priority.
No objective evaluation of the LEXIS system has been published. Of the Ohio lawyers using the system in the early 1970ies, 78 per cent reported that it was at least 5 times as fast as conventional research, and 41 per cent found it at least 13 times as fast. As much as 94 per cent found that the results were at least as comprehensive as in conventional research, 68 per cent found it more comprehensive, and 28 per
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cent found it much more comprehensive (cfr Rubin 1973:8). User polls like these probably are of limited value apart from being an expression of user attitudes. It might be thought that LEXIS aggregated data on the use of its system for evaluative purposes, but MDC has a very strict policy in respect to the privacy of their clients, and does not save such data - even for statistical purposes.
The privacy does not, however, go as far as to protect the persons mentioned in the decisions, and especially not the judges. It seems to be a common and practical use of LEXIS to retrieve decisions of a judge to whom the lawyer is to plead a case - in order to make oneself familiar with the experience and attitudes of this judge, and, presumably, prepare a strategy of argument which is promising in the light of earlier decisions. Such use of a legal information system would not be found unproblematic within many jurisdictions, and it may be of interest to note that the Swedish Data Inspectorate has directed the national provider of legal information services, DAFA, in their contract with users explicitly to prohibit retrieval of the names of persons. The background is, however, slightly different (cfr the section on Sweden), but may nevertheless illustrate different attitudes in different countries.
The data base of LEXIS is constantly growing. In 1980 its volume was 20.000.000.000 characters text available from terminal for retrieval and browsing. LEXIS mainly documents case law, both on a federal and state level - and does obviously have an impressive publication ratio within this documentation area. Statutory material is documented only to a limited extent, one reason indicated is that West has often copyright to state compilations of statutes. Projects in this area are, however, under consideration.
Its data base is organized in 8 libraries.
The general library contains the US Code; Supreme Court decisions (since 1925); Court of Appeals decisions (since 1945); District Court decisions (since 1960); and Court of Claims decisions (since 1977).
The securities library contains relevant sections
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from the US Code; securities cases decided by the Supreme Cort, Courts of Appeals and District Courts (all since 1933); final and proposed regulations under the Securities Act and issued by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System; administrative determinations like no-action letters (since 1971); a selection of decisions by the Securities and Exchange Commission (since 1933); and a selection of interpretive releases from the same authority (since 1933); legislative history in the form of House, Senate and Conference reports on the 1933 and 1934 Acts and amendments.
The tax library contains the internal revenue code; regulations; the Cumulative Bulletin (since 1954); Private rulings released to the public (since 1977) and those released and classified "reference" 1954-1977; tax cases of the Supreme Court (since 1913), of the District Courts (since 1960), and of the Court of Claims (since 1942), tax court opinions and memoranda decisions (since the beginning, 1942); legislative history of the 1954 code and amendments.
The trade regulation library contains administrative decisions of the Commissioner (since 1950), administrative Law Judges' initial decisions (since 1950) and their procedural orders (since 1976), and consent and interlocutory orders (since 1970); trade regulation cases of the Supreme Court (since 1890), of the Courts of Appeal (since 1945) and District Courts (since 1950).
The patent, trademark and copyright library contains such cases decided by the supreme court (since 1850); Court of Customs and Patent Appeals (since 1952); Courts of Appeal (since 1945); District Courts (since 1960); and Court of Claims (since 1977).
The communications library contains the Federal Communications Commission Reports, 2nd series; volume 39 on frequency allocations (since 1939); volume 40 on sponsorship identifications, equal time, fairness doctrine, and FM frequency allocations (since 1941); volume 41 on television (since 1950); and volume 42 on common carriers and safety and special radio services (since 1947); cases of the Supreme Court (since 1936), Courts of Appeal (since 1929), and District Courts (since 1960).
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The labour library, containing the National Labor Relations Board Reports (since 1972); cases decided by the Supreme Court (since 1932), Courts of Appeals (since 1945), and District Courts (since 1947).
Also a Delaware corporate law library is established, containing the Delaware cases construing the general corporation law (reported decisions since 1898 and unreported since 1970), and federal decisions (Supreme Court since 1925, Courts of Appeal since 1945, and District Courts since 1960).
The state law library is extensive, and will only briefly be listet alphabetically:
Alabama (Supreme Court since 1965, Court of Appeals 1965-1969, Court of Criminal Appeals since 1969, Court of Civil Appeals since 1969.
Alaska (Supreme Court since 1965).
Arizona (Supreme Court since 1965, Court of Appeals since 1965).
Arkansas (reports since 1965, Court of Appeals since 1979).
California (Reports, 2nd series since 1945, 3rd series, Appellate Reports, 2nd series since 1955, Appellate Reports 3rd series).
Colorado (Supreme Court since 1965, Court of Appeals since 1970)
Connecticut (Reports since 1965, Supplement since 1965, Circuit reports 1965-75).
Delaware (Supreme Court since 1965, Court of Chancery since 1965, Superior Court since 1965).
District of Columbia (Court of Appeals since 1965).
Florida (Supreme Court since 1955, District Courts of Appeal since 1957).
Georgia (Supreme Court since 1965, Court of Appeals since 1965).
Hawaii (Supreme Court since 1965).
Idaho (Supreme Court since 1965).
Illinois (Reports since 1945, Reports 2nd series, Appellate Court Reports, 2nd Series since 1955, 3rd series.
Indiana (Reports since 1965, Court of Appeals since 1965).
Iowa (Supreme Court since 1965, Court of Appeals since 1977).
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Kansas (Constitution, statutes, Supreme Court since 1963, Court of Appeals since 1977).
Kentucky (Supreme Court since 1955, Court of Appeals since 1976).
Louisiana (Supreme Court since 1965, Courts of Appeal since 1965).
Maine (Supreme Judicial Court since 1965).
Maryland (Reports since 1965, Appellate Reports since 1967).
Massachusetts (Reports since 1950, Appeals Court since 1972).
Michigan (Reports since 1955, Appeals Reports since 1965).
Minnesota (Reports since 1965).
Mississippi (Supreme Court since 1965).
Missouri (Constitution, Revised Statutes and Session Laws, Supreme Court since 1945, Court of Appeals since 1945).
Montana (Supreme Court since 1965).
Nebraska (Reports since 1965).
Nevada (Supereme Court since 1965).
New Hampshire (Supreme Court since 1965).
New Jersey (Supreme Court since 1948, Superior Court since 1965).
New Mexico (Supreme Court since 1965, Court of Appeals since 1966).
New York (Constitution, Consolidated Laws, Reports since 1940, 2nd series. Appellate Division Reports 2nd series, Miscellaneous Reports 2nd series.
North Carolina (Reports since 1965, Court of Appeals Reports since 1968).
North Dakota (Supreme Court since 1965).
Ohio (Constitution, Revised Code and Rules of Civil Procedures, Reports since 1821, State Reports since 1852, 2nd series, Appellate Reports since 1913, 2nd series, Law Abstracts since 1922, Miscellaneous Reports since 1965.
Oklahoma (Supreme Court since 1965, Court of Criminal Appeals since 1965, Court of Appeals 1969.
Oregon (Reports since 1965, Court of Appeals Reports since 1969).
Pennsylvania (Supreme Court since 1955, Superior Court since 1955, Commonwealth Court since 1970).
Rhode Island (Supreme Court since 1965).
South Carolina (Supreme Court since 1965).
South Dakota (Supreme Court since 1965).
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Tennessee (Supreme Court since 1965, Court of Appeals since 1967, Court of Criminal Appeals since 1967).
Texas (Supreme Court since 1955, Court of Criminal Appeals since 1965, Courts of Civil Appeals since 1965).
Utah (Supreme Court since 1965).
Vermont (Reports since 1965).
Virginia (Supreme Court 1965).
Washington (Reports 2nd series since 1965, Appellate Reports since 1969).
West Virginia (Supreme Court of Appeals since 1965).
Wisconsin (Reports 2nd series since 1965, Court of Appeals since 1978).
Wyoming (Supreme Court since 1965).
LEXIS has created its own data collection system, which reaches down to every court and in principle every judge being a part of the LEXIS documentation area. This collection is to a great extent parallel to that one made by West for its system and reporters - but is independent. Therefore, decisions may be documented in LEXIS though unreported. It is maintained that the LEXIS data base contains 10 per cent more US District Court opinions than that of WESTLAW (1980).
Actually, the documentation of unreported cases in the mind of many users is one of the points in favour of LEXIS. But the use of unreported cases creates problems within the legal system, both in the US and elsewhere.
Data capture on such a scale as required by MDC is, of course, a major operation. An accuracy standard of 99.99 per cent (in respect to characters) is imposed on the material. This is achieved by double registration and automated error correction at the LEXIS center in Dayton. For retrospective documentation, LEXIS employs oversea entrepreneurs (cfr Tapper 1974:15), for new material MDC encourages sponsoring professional organizations to find solutions for capturing data at the source (cfr Rubin 1973:20).
The cost of the system is a sum of several factors. Pursuant to its contracts with private and most government subscribers, MDC charges nonrecurring fees for terminal installation and user training, monthly
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fees for equipment and communications, hourly fees for the use of the service, and incidental fees for off-line printing. Since 1974, LEXIS services may be obtained with no minimum use commitment.
LEXIS has diversified in two ways.
Firstly, it has grown out of the US jurisdictions. Through Butterworth Telepublishing, LEXIS is offering a service to British lawyers on a data base prepared by Butterworth (cfr under UK), and through Tele Consulte (a subsidiary of the publishing firm Hachette), a corresponding service has been made available to French lawyers (cfr under France). MDC has announced its willingness to move into any jurisdiction and offer systems on a similar basis, but has met considerable problems in two of the most obvious choices - Australia and Canada. In both these jurisdictions, there has been a skeptical attitude towards the LEXIS service, mainly due to the pricing structure, which favours big law firms, and which is feared to create new forms of availability discrimination. The policy in Canada has been rather explicitly formulated for offering an improvement in the information situation of small lawyers through computerized systems. At least in Australia one has considered invoking Crown Copyright in case law material in order to secure control of which systems will be permitted to document Australian law (cfr under Australia).
Secondly, it has diversified its services. For a long time, accountants have been a major user group under the LEXIS system, and an Accounting Information library has been made to serve their needs containing annual reports of some 4.000 companies (cfr Kaynor/McMorrow 1982:31). A parallel service to LEXIS has been established, known as NEXIS, which documents new articles, from Washington Post, Newsweek and other sources. This has also attracted the interest of lawyers, who in interviews have revealed that they have searched the news for information on, for instance, the judge or their opponents. A more interesting diversification is, however, their offer of litigation support through a client file - the client may send material to MDC, which will create a special file for litigation support that, of course, is available only to the client (cfr Stanley 1980:153-155). Even Encyclopedia Britannica is available in its authentic text through LEXIS. A LEXIS user does not have
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to subscribe to all its services, one may for instance exclude NEXIS, and the libraries of foreign jurisdictions (England and Wales, and France).
West is the largest legal publisher in the United States - having 2.600 employees (among these 150 legal editors) and a weekly export from their warehouse in St Paul, Minnesota, of approximately a quarter of a million books (1980). West is more than a publishing company - it is something of an institution of the legal system of the US, gluing it together with its numerous and important publications.
In 1975 West Publishing Company announced its Computer Law Retrieval Service (cfr Ginnow 1975), which was launched under the name WESTLAW (cfr Tapper 1976:9). The system is serviced out of West's IBM computer facilities (1980: IBM 3033) in St Paul, Minnesota.
PO Box 3526
The data base of this service was initially the headnotes of cases, as reported in the West publications. It was argued that this gave better retrieval capabilities and facilitated the relevance assessment of the user. Though the latter is probably true, empirical research hardly supported the former assertion.
The retrieval programs were purchased from the Canadian QL systems (cfr Tapper 1974:3-4, 1976:9), though already at this first stage several changes were made in the programs - one of them being the inclusion of positional logic. This was implemented by having the programs read the text file for those documents retrieved by the Boolean request - which was probably not efficient enough within the very competitive US market.
LEXIS was actually becoming a competitor to West - Rubin maintained that LEXIS was the first viable
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alternative to West's Federal Reporter System. On the other hand, WESTLAW became from the very beginning the major competitor to LEXIS.
The differences between the WESTLAW and LEXIS service are several. Firstly, West is the most experienced and major legal publisher in the US, and has the advantages of an established organization for collection of cases, of cooperation with Federal and State administration, etc. However, when WESTLAW entered the scene, LEXIS had already successfully established its own collection organization.
West started computerized typesetting in the mid 1960ies, and is in principle able to make secondary use of the computerized data for its retrieval system - which would share the costs on data capture among retrieval systems and books. In practice, however, this has proved difficult, as the post-editing necessary for utilizing the data for the retrieval system was rather complex. The sharing of costs may also become less of an advantage as the material increasingly becomes available in a compatible computerized form from word processors at the source.
Secondly, WESTLAW was supported by a more sophisticated retrieval system with several additional options for the user. This system has not, however, been stable. Its point of departure is the QL systems retrieval programs, but it is maintained that there have been made more than 250 amendments in the original program, and that today little is left of the originals. This has not been without costs in terms of reduced reliability and several rather major changes in the user interface.
Today retrieval is based on the use of Boolean operators, but one of the original ranking algorithms of QL systems has been retained (different words in the search request also occurring in the document). This actually permits natural language search requests (Herman 1980:157) - though empirical research would indicate that the performance is less than adequate. Right hand truncation is avialable, and the inverted file may be looked up. Priorities between operators cannot be determined by paranthesises, but this inclusion is (1980) under consideration. Different words from those of the request may be highlighted in a retrieved document through the use of the LOCATE
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command. It is not really a KWIC format, one accesses a preformated screen image containing the specified term.
Users are encouraged to take on-line training courses in the use of WESTLAW. These are available free of charge.
Shephard's citation indexes are integrated in WEST-LAW. Shepard (which is now acquired by McGraw Hill) is integrated in an elegant way. Retrieving one case, one may, by a simple command access the citation index and have displayed the citations of this case. Each citation has a reference number, and using this, one may access the case in the WESTLAW data base (if part of the data base) by keying the reference number (which gererates a LOCATE command.
It is reported (February 1984) that WESTLAW has introduced a new citator service known as INSTA-CITE.
Thirdly, WESTLAW does not require any customized terminal. In principle it is compatible with a number of standard communication protocols, for instance the simple TTY-protocol. West also certifies communicating word processing systems, intelligent terminals and personal computers, which can double up as terminals for WESTLAW - in the beginning of 1984, some 75 different computers were approved.
West has introduced a customized terminal known as WALT (West's Automatic Law Terminal) designed for user friendliness. This offers automatic dial-up, a number of function keys and programmable sign-on procedures which allow WALT to connect to other information services.
But the fourth difference, however, represented the main difference at the first stage - the LEXIS data base included the authentic text of the case (excluding headnotes), while the WESTLAW data base included only headnotes. West probably reasoned that the system would function as a supplemental retrieval tool in respect to a conventional library of West publications. When the user retrieved a reference, he would look up the case in a bound volume.
We have stated earlier that the power of a
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computerized system as a purely retrieval tool has often been overstated. On the other hand, it would also seem obvious that a user finding a headnote which would seem to indicate a relevant case, would appreciate the possibility to dip into the authentic text in order to make more than a provisional relevance assessment.
The confrontation between headnotes and authentic text ended in 1978 by West changing its policy and including the authentic text in the documents - which of course have still the headnotes, including the West Key Numbers. West has called this document design "full text plus" in order to emphasize that more than the authentic text is included. The use of Key Numbers is an important aspect, as this makes it easy to find a retrieved case in the published reporters. Users have maintained that it is the inclusion of abstracts in the document which is the most important and valuable difference between WESTLAW and LEX-IS - cfr Kaynor/McMorrow 1982:32.
West would seem - correctly - to emphasize the relation between different information systems, both computerized and manual. The company also supports a microform service, Ultrafiche, for case reporters.
The data base is organized in 5 general libraries, 50 state libraries, and some miscellanous services
The Federal Statutory Law library contains the US Code.
The Federal Regulations library contains the Code of Federal Regulations.
The Federal Case Law library contains Supreme Court Reporter, Federal Reporter 2nd, Federal Supplement, and Federal Rules Decisions.
The Federal Special Interest libraries is divided into 7 major sections - Federal Tax, Securities, Labor, Antitrust and Business Regulation, Communications, Bankruptcy, and Government Contracts.
The tax section contains code, regulation and administrative material; administrial memoranda; written determinations; and case law - Supreme
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Court (since 1932) and Court of Appeals, Court of Claims, District Courts and Tax Court (reported and memoranda decisions) since 1954.
The Securities section contains the relevant section of the US Code and Code of Federal Regulation; case law from the Supreme Court, Courts of Appeals and Court of Claims; and SEC material (decisions since 1934, interpretative releases since 1933, no-action letters since 1971).
The Labor Section contains the relevant sections of the US Code and Code of Federal Regulations; case law from the Supreme Court, Courts of Appeals, District Courts, and Court of Claims; NLRB decisions (since 1972); and OSHRC reports (since 1971).
The Antitrust and Business Regulation section contains the relevant sections of the US Code and Code of Federal Regulations; case law from the Supreme Court, Courts of Appeals, District Courts, and Courts of Claims; and FTC decisions since 1959.
The Communications section contains the relevant sections of the US Code and Code of Federal Regulations; case law from the Supreme Court, Courts of Appeals, District Courts, and Courts of Claims; and FCC decisions.
The Bankruptcy section contains the relevant sections of the US Code and Code of Federal Regulations; case law from the West Bankruptcy Reporter (since 1979); SEC Reorganization Reports.
The Government Contracts section contains the relevant sections of the US Code and Code of Federal Regulations; case law from the Supreme Court (since 1932), Courts of Appeals (since 1945), District Courts (since 1950), and Courts of Claims (since 1954); and Board of Contract Appeals decisions.
Also, WESTLAW has a data base on insurance (state insurance cases); Military Justice Reporter since 1978; a Forensic Services Dictionary, and Black's Law Dictionary.
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WESTLAW has also a state law library covering the 50 states, with special coverage for California, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Texas, and Washington. The libraries are organized in regional files according to the National Reporter System of West, though individual states may be searched separately. All states have cases in authentic form since 1967, and headnotes since 1956 for the Supreme Court and Courts of Appeals. In the summary below, only deviations and the pertinent reporter is listed.
Alabama - Southern Reporter
Alaska - Pacific Reporter
Arizona - Pacific Reporter
Arkansas - South Western Reporter
California - Supreme Court since 1945 (authentic form), headnotes for other courts only since 1960 - California Reporter
Colorado - Court of Appeals (authentic form since 1970, and no headnotes for this court) - Pacific Reporter
Connecticut - Atlantic Reporter
Delaware - including Court of Chancery - Atlantic Reporter
District of Columbia - only Court of Appeals - Atlantic Reporter
Florida - Southern Reporter
Georgia - South Eastern Reporter
Hawaii - Pacific Reporter
Idaho - only Supreme Court - Pacific Reporter
Illinois - North Eastern Reporter
Indiana - North Eastern Reporter
Iowa - authentic form since 1977 for Court of Appeals, no headnotes for this court - North Western Reporter
Kansas - Pacific Reporter
Kentucky - South Western Reporter
Louisiana - Southern Reporter
Maine - only Supreme Judicial Court - Atlantic Reporter
Maryland - Atlantic Reporter
Massachusetts - authentic form only since 1972 for Appeals Court - North Eastern Reporter
Michigan - North Western Reporter
Minnesota - only Supreme Court, but authentic form since 1945 - North Western Reporter
Mississippi - only Supreme Court - Southern Reporter
Missouri - South Western Reporter
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Montana - only Supreme Court - Pacific Reporter
Nebraska - only Supreme Court - North Western Reporter
Nevada - only Supreme Court - Pacific Reporter
New Hampshire - only Supreme Court - Atlantic Reporter
New Jersey - authentic form since 1948 - Atlantic Reporter, including New Jersey Tax Court Reporter in authentic form since 1980
New Mexico - Pacific Reporter
New York - Court of Appeals authentic form since 1940
North Carolina - South Eastern Reporter
North Dakota - Supreme Court only - North Western Reporter
Ohio - North Eastern Reporter
Oklahoma - Court of Appeals authentic form only since 1968 - Pacific Reporter
Oregon - Court of Appeals authentic form only since 1969 - Pacific Reporter
Pennsylvania - including the Commonwealth Court authentic form since 1970 - Atlantic Reporter
Rhode Island - only Supreme Court - Atlantic Reporter
South Carolina - only Supreme Court - South Eastern Reporter
South Dakota - only Supreme Court - North Western Reporter
Tennessee - South Western Reporter
Texas - South Western Reporter
Utah - only Supreme Court - Pacific Reporter
Vermont - only Supreme Court - Atlantic Reporter
Virginia - only Supreme Court - South Eastern Reporter
Washington - authentic form since 1964 for Supreme Court, since 1969 for Court of Appeals - Pacific Reporter
West Virginia - only Supreme Court - South Eastern Reporter
Wisconsin - North Western Reporter
Wyoming - only Supreme Court - Pacific Reporter
The first screen displayed to the user contains the conditions of the copyright license of the subscription, permitting the user to copy screen images and documents from the system.
As MDC, West does not announce its number of users, but it is known that it has achieved considerable
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penetration and could point to subscribers in Hawaii, Alaska and Puerto Rico. Through "wholesaling agreements" with QL systems (Canada) and EUROLEX (UK), WESTLAW has also become available to foreign users. In this we see a philosophy quite different from the MDC philosophy - through compatibility and networking national and specialized systems may achieve a broad, geographical accessability.
WESTLAW contains several menues, from a table of contents to explanations of the different data bases - including the last date of updating, and the date of the most recent document. There is also a weekly news magazine - "Case Highlights" - of recent developments before the courts considered interesting by West editors. This is actually an example of a facility supporting the important current awareness function, and which most computerized systems would seem to have overlooked.
Of course West is still lagging behind MDC in both depth and breadth of the data base, but its schedule indicates ambitions for reducing the gap (cfr Kaynor/McMorrow 1982:31).
West charges a flat rate proportional to logon time.
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