. Access to HKLII and to
all data on it is free. HKLII (pronounced 'H K Lee') was made available
for public access on 13 December 2001, and was under development for four
months prior to that. HKLII is to be launched by the Hon Andrew Li, Chief
Justice of Hong Kong, on 17 January 2001.
The development of HKLII was and is possible because Hong Kong, of all
jurisdictions in Asia, already has both public policies supporting free
access to legal information, and a number of official Internet sites providing
some of that information in a systematic and sophisticated form. It has
therefore been possible to build on these developments in Hong Kong to
create one comprehensive, independent source of free access to essential
Hong Kong legal information.
The main motivations for the creation of HKLII are:
To provide more effective access to Hong Kong law;
To support the rule of law in Hong Kong by providing this alternative form
of free access;
To add Hong Kong legal information to the WorldLII cooperative global network
of free access legal research facilities; and
To encourage the development of similar policies toward free access, and
access facilities such as LIIs, in Greater China and throughout Asia, by
providing a good example in an Asian jurisdiction.
Extract from HKLII home page <http://www.hklii.org/>
3.1. Contents of HKLII
The initial contents of HKLII are:
HKLII is, from its initial release, the most comprehensive collection of
Hong Kong law available for free access which can be searched with a single
search (as described below). Other databases of Hong Kong law are under
development for inclusion in HKLII over the coming months.
Court and Tribunal Judgments (approximately 10,000 in full text) from the
Court of Final Appeal, Court of Appeal, Court of First Instance, District
Court, Family Court and Lands Tribunal. The commencement dates of the collections
vary, some commencing in 1982. The judgments are provided by the Judiciary
of the Hong Kong SAR.
Miscellaneous Courts of Hong Kong Judgments 1982-1990 (approximately 2000
judgments in full text) including decisions from the Supreme Court and
High Court as they were then, provided by the Department of Justice. This
database will be largely replaced as the Judiciary's own databases extend
back in time.
Practice Directions, provided by the Judiciary of the Hong Kong SAR.
All Current Ordinances of Hong Kong, provided by the Department of Justice
and its BLIS service. Regulations will be provided soon.
The table of contents of Historical Law of Hong Kong, an image database
of Hong Kong's Ordinances back to 1844 created by the Hong Kong University
Libraries. Search results on HKLII link users to the image of the Ordinance
held by the Libraries.
Recent law reform reports and discussion papers, provided by the Hong Kong
Law Reform Commission. The Commission is currently capturing all its past
reports, and these will then be provided on HKLII.
Domain name arbitration decisions under the .hk domain, provided by the
Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC).
The Hong Kong Treaties Index, provided by the Centre for Comparative and
Public Law of the Faculty of Law, University of Hong Kong.
At present only English language versions are provided on HKLII, but
Chinese language versions of some data (including Ordinances and some case
law) will be provided later. The Chinese language versions will initially
be browsable only, not searchable.
The system is described as a demonstration system at present,
because we are still developing the continuous updating arrangements. We
have released it for use now as it is already useful.
3.2. HKLII content from World Law
HKLII also includes a catalog and search engine for other legal resources
on the web from Hong Kong and elsewhere in Greater China. These HKLII resources
are the part of the World Law service which is being developed by contributing
editors at the University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law, using the World
Law software and indexing framework developed by AustLII. HKLII is therefore
a contributor to a collaborative law catalog.
Main page for Hong Kong in the World Law catalog (extract)
Other World Law pages associated with HKLII are the pages for the jurisdictions
China, Macau SAR, and Taiwan, and the subjects WTO and Human Rights. Other
subjects are being added.
3.3. HKLII search options
HKLII uses the SINO search engine developed by AustLII and used by AustLII,
BAILII, CanLII, PacLII and WorldLII. SINO (which stands for 'Size Is No
Object') is a fast search engine which provides a full range of boolean
and proximity operators.
All HKLII databases may be searched simultaneously, and may also
be searched in groupings ('All case law', 'All legislation' etc) or by
each individual database. Customised selections of individual databases
may also be made. The example below show a selection of three collections
of case law, plus practice directions.
HKLII full search screen (extract) showing only some of the search
In default, searches are over the whole of HKLII, and the results are
ranked in order of likely relevance to the search query. The example search
results below (a search for 'arbitration near (appeal or review)') show
in the first six items retrieved a section of an Ordinance, a Practice
Direction, and decisions from three different Courts. The effectiveness
of the relevance ranking is indicated by the titles of the first two items
Example of HKLII search results (extract)
3.4. Differences between HKLII and existing facilities
Many of the resources on HKLII, including Ordinances and much of the case
law, are already available for free access via the Internet, due to the
policies of the Hong Kong SAR government and Judiciary in favour of free
access and the very good 'official' web sites already available for Hong
HKLII nevertheless adds value to this information by providing
different ways of accessing it. Some examples of the additional functionality
of HKLII are as follows:
One the other hand, the 'official' sites have some features and forms of
value-adding that HKLII does not have as yet. In particular, Ordinances
and some case law are available in Chinese as well as English. BLIS provides
historical versions of Ordinances, but HKLII does not. The Judiciary's
Legal Reference System provides links between cases and corrigenda which
HKLII does not as yet, and also some additional fields for searching cases.
Different types of legal materials (case law, legislation, law reform reports
etc) can be searched simultaneously.
Individual court databases can be searched, or selections of only some
Tables of contents of Ordinances are available.
Relevance ranking of search results.
Automated hypertext linking within legislation, between legislation, between
case law and legislation, and from legislation to case law (through the
The relationship between HKLII and the 'official' sites of legal
information in Hong Kong is as it should be: each provides forms of value-adding
to the underlying legal information that the technology chosen to implement
each makes possible, and they each stimulate the other to improve the quality
of the services they provide.
The relationship between HKLII and the commercial publishers of
Hong Kong legal information is twofold. HKLII does not attempt to provide
the forms of value-adding that can only be provided by extensive editorial
input, such as headnotes on cases, legislative annotations, and expert
commentary. However, by providing such value-adding as can be provided
by automated means, HKLII may stimulate commercial publishers to re-examine
their own services.
4. The World Legal Information Institute (WorldLII)
The World Legal Information Institute (WorldLII) - <http://www.worldlii.org>
- is a free, independent and non-profit global legal research facility
developed collaboratively by a number of Legal Information Institutes and
Law Faculties around the world. HKLII is one of the collaborating parties
in WorldLII, the only one in Asia at present.
The name 'WorldLII' was used to describe the challenge of developing
a global free access legal research facility at a meeting of parties interested
in free legal information at the LII Workshop on Emerging Global Public
Legal Information Standards
held at Cornell in July 2000. Various possible models were discussed at
the Cornell workshop, the most detailed of which was a distributed search
system described by Tom Bruce.
This implementation of WorldLII does not rely as much on distributed searches
as Bruce's model.
4.1. Collaborating parties
WorldLII is principally a collaboration between existing LIIs, as indicated
on its front page, with AustLII taking the leading technical and organisational
role in the initial implementation. However, it is likely that WorldLII
will develop to include contributions of databases that come from organisations
other than LIIs.
Collaborating parties banner from the WorldLII front page
Databases accessible through WorldLII are located at the following sites:
Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII) - <http://www.austlii.edu.au/>
British and Irish Legal Information Institute (BAILII) - <http://www.bailii.org/>
Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII) - <http://www.canlii.org/>
Hong Kong Legal Information Institute (HKLII) - <http://www.hklii.org/>
Pacific Islands Legal Information Institute (PacLII) - <http://www.paclii.org/>
WorldLII (including databases provided by Wits Law School, South Africa)
Technical development and hosting
WorldLII's user interface, the World Law facilities, and those databases
located at WorldLII (such as those from South Africa), are hosted on AustLII,
and the initial implementation is by AustLII. Technical enhancements to
WorldLII are being developed jointly by AustLII and the Canadian Legal
Information Institute (CanLII).
At the time of writing, the first version of WorldLII has existed
for only a few weeks, so this description of its features is relatively
WorldLII front page (extract) - looks familiar?
WorldLII has been designed with an appearance and functionality similar
to the other LIIs collaborating in its operation, to assist user recognition
and ease of use. What does the logo mean? Well, it is vaguely world-shape
4.2. Content of WorldLII
WorldLII commences with databases from most continents, particularly those
with jurisdictions with a common law tradition. As the front page indicates,
there are databases from jurisdictions in Africa, Asia, Australasia, Europe,
North America and the South Pacific. WorldLII has a global rather than
regional approach, and starts life with a more extensive range of databases
than any other free access facility, even though it is still only a fraction
of what it may be possible to achieve.
Databases from other LIIs
Almost all of WorldLII's initial databases come from its collaborating
LIIs, as follows: AustLII (120); BAILII (19); PacLII (25); CanLII (41)
and HKLII (13). At its inception there are searchable on WorldLII 218 databases
from 43 jurisdictions in 20 countries.
Databases only on WorldLII
Initially, the only databases on WorldLII that are not included on one
of the other collaborating LIIs are the two databases provided by Wits
Law School: the Supreme Court of Appeal of South Africa, the Constitutional
Court of South Africa.
We intend that, subject to limitations of resources, we will include
in WorldLII significant databases made available to us by Courts, Law Reform
Commissions, and the like from jurisdictions where there is currently no
national or regional LII that can act as a host.
World Law catalog and search facility
WorldLII also includes the World Law Catalog and a web-spider search facility
for sites listed in the catalog, covering law sites not on WorldLII.
4.3. Search options
The most obvious strength of WorldLII is that it already allows over 200
databases from 20 countries to be searched simultaneously, and this is
in fact the default scope of searches.
However, the most valuable search feature of WorldLII will often
be that it allows narrower searches over particular types of materials,
but across a wide range of jurisdictions. This is illustrated by the range
of selections already provided.
An extract from the WorldLII search options (Full Search Form)
The following search options have been implemented:
These options are important as they will provide WorldLII with a logical
structure within which to place databases which become available from jurisdictions
which do not have a separate LII providing a 'home' for databases. We hope
that by providing these options they will encourage leading Courts, Law
Reform Commissions, Law Journals and the like to discuss with us the possible
inclusion of their databases in WorldLII. We expect that some databases
will be included in WorldLII's own databases only temporarily, and that
WorldLII will act as an 'incubator' for the development of separately operating
WordLII: All Databases [Default] - All caselaw, legislation and
secondary materials from all available jurisdictions.
WorldLII: All Legislation Databases- Legislation from all
Australian jurisdictions (10), Ireland, Northern Ireland, UK, and Hong
Kong (including historical collections from Northern Ireland and Hong Kong).
Legislation from the following Canadian jurisdictions is also being made
searchable from CanLII: Federal, British Columbia, Ontario and Québec.
WorldLII: All Case Law Databases - All courts and tribunals available.
WorldLII: All National Highest Courts - including High Court of
Australia; NZ Court of Appeal; Privy Council; House of Lords; Supreme Court
of Ireland; the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal; the highest Court of each
of ten Pacific Island countries, the Supreme Court of Appeal of South Africa,
the Constitutional Court of South Africa, Court of Appeal of England and
Wales; Scottish Court of Session; Northern Ireland Court of Appeal. The
Supreme Court of Canada is being added.
WorldLII: All Superior Courts - This collection is essentially the
highest court of any jurisdiction, particularly of the states, provinces
and territories of any federations, plus of course all of the National
Highest Courts listed above.
WordLII: All Treaties - Australian, Hong Kong and Pacific treaties
WorldLII: All Law Reform - Law reform databases from Australia,
Ireland and Hong Kong.
WorldLII: All Law Journals - Ten Australian law journals.
WorldLII: All Secondary Materials Databases - This includes all
Law Reform databases (Australia , Ireland and Hong Kong), all Treaties
databases (Australia, Pacific Islands and Hong Kong), all Law Journals
(10) , and all other secondary materials (including Australian indigenous
law databases, Hong Kong Practice Directions, human rights databases, plain
English guides to law, and much more).
Geographically-based search options will become particularly interesting
when WorldLII expands to include databases from more than one LII or other
source in a region. The geographical options provided at present include
(with current content listed):
An interesting inclusion is that the Privy Council's decisions in WorldLII
include appeals from so many geographically disparate regions. Those listed
above are only from regions where we already have other databases, but
when appropriate they can also be added to regional collections from the
Caribbean and from the Indian subcontinent.
Africa: All databases - South Africa and Privy Council
Asia: All databases - Hong Kong, Privy Council
Australasia: All databases - Australia, New Zealand and Privy Council
Europe: All databases - UK and Ireland
North America: All databases - Canada
South Pacific: All databases - Ten Pacific Island countries and
Finally, users may choose their own combinations of the over 200
databases accessible from WorldLII: 'customised' searches. It may also
be valuable to provide for users a selection of the most obviously valuable
subject- specific customisations, such as 'All administrative review Tribunals'
or 'All unfair competition tribunals' or 'All anti-discrimination tribunals'.
4.4. Cross-national hypertext links
The development plans for WorldLII include the creation of mark-up software
which automates the creation of hypertext links where cases (or other documents)
from one national jurisdiction cite case or legislation from another national
In WorldLII and its collaborating LIIs, cross-national hypertext links
are only implemented to a limited extent as yet. For example, on WorldLII
and BAILII in the database 'England and Wales Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
Decisions', the decision Yasin Sepet And Erdem Bulbul V. Secretary Of
State For Home Department (Unhcr Intervening)  EWCA Civ 681 <http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2001/681.html>
contains two automated hypertext links to Australian High Court decisions
on WorldLII (and AustLII), as shown in the following extract (at para 88).
Extract from a UK court decision with automated hypertext links to
This example also shows a UK court citing an Australian decision by
its Court-designated 'HCA' citation, rather than a publisher-designated
citation. Because AustLII and BAILII identify all cases by their Court-designated
citations, these links can be created automatically between and within
national collections on WorldLII.
Where Courts cite cases by use of publisher-designated citation,
the task of recognising the location of cases on WorldLII from the citation
is much more difficult and is a major research task for the future development
of WorldLII and for national LIIs.
4.5. Future development of WorldLII
It is not easy to predict how WorldLII will develop, or what tools will
be needed to best assist that development. Systems like this tend to develop
something of a momentum of their own, depending on the wishes of data providers,
users and funding organisations. Some of the further developments which
would assist WorldLII's growth and quality include:
methods for faster inclusion of search results from fully distributed databases;
a case citation standard (and a tool for applying it) to enable more comprehensive
automation of cross-system linking irrespective of the citation used to
identify a case;
legislation citation standards which would assist automated linking to
point-in time legislation;
most important, a search engine which has the same functionality as SINO,
but can handle non-European languages as well.
further refinement of the methods of integrating the different types of
searches available over WorldLII and specific LII databases, World Law
web sites and catalog, and general search engines such as Google, as discussed
5. A model for systematic global legal research
The relationship between HKLII and WorldLII (including its World Law component)
gives for the first time a working model for systematic global legal research
over free Internet law resources. Such research involves the following
five separate steps, each of which is now possible using WorldLII and its
The research task is made more complex by the fact that we often need to
make our research specific to particular types of legal materials (eg legislation,
case law or law reform reports). As illustrated earlier, such type-specific
research can be done using WorldLII or its collaborating LIIs.
Start search on the most relevant law site (eg HKLII)
Expand search to cooperating standardised law sites (mainly LIIs) (eg WorldLII)
Expand search to non-standardised law sites by a law-specific web spider
(eg World Law's search facility)
Expand search over general (non-law) search engine (eg Google)
Browse and search a global catalog of legal web sites to find sites the
content of which cannot be searched from a central facility (eg World Law's
This systematic approach to legal research is implemented in two
different ways in WorldLII and its collaborating LIIs: (i) invitations
in search results to repeat searches over different collections; and (ii)
the World Law interface which provides search options of different scope
over different collections. They are outlined below. Other implementations
of a systematic approach will no doubt be implemented as WorldLII develops.
5.1. Repeating searches for comprehensive research
In order for WorldLII to be part of as comprehensive a legal research system
as possible, the presentation of search results in WorldLII, World Law
and in the collaborating LIIs all invite users to broaden their research
by automatically repeating it over the other relevant systems. In addition,
users are invited to repeat their search over Google, and their SINO search
(from any of the systems) is translated into the most suitable search over
Where a user starts research from a single LII (eg HKLII), search
results will appear headed by a message such as the following:
World Law - Categories found: 2 Repeat search over
Databases ; World Law Websites
The user is therefore invited to broaden their research by repeating the
search automatically over WorldLII (represented by the bold lines in the
diagram below). When the search is repeated over WorldLII, the WorldLII
search results invite the user to repeat the search over World Law. When
the user repeats the search over World Law, the search results then invite
them to repeat the search over Google (and translate the search into Google
Similarly, anyone who commences research on World Law is invited
to repeat their search over WorldLII (represented by the lighter lines
in the diagram below), and both the WorldLII and World Law searches invite
a further search over Google.
A systematic research path, starting from a single LII (in bold)
Our aim is therefore to assist (and encourage) users to do comprehensive
searches over WorldLII, World Law and Google without having to re-key searches
or learn different search commands for each system.
5.2. An interface for comprehensive research
The limitations of the above approach of inviting users to repeat searches
are that it is not as intuitive as a interface which provides search alternatives,
and that it does not so easily allow for searches of limited scope.
How can this be achieved through one reasonably transparent interface?
We propose to implement it through the World Law interface, as shown below
for the 'Legislation' page of the World Law catalog. The fourth option
'Only WorldLII Legislation' is additional to the options available now.
Proposed World Law search interface on the Legislation page
When this is implemented fully in World Law, the user's context in browsing
the catalog (eg 'Legislation') will determine the scope of the second and
fourth options offered. So, for example, if the user is at the World Law
page for all 'Law Reform' then the available options will include 'Only
World Law - Law Reform' and 'Only WorldLII Law Reform'.
[AustLII 1997] `New directions in law via the internet - The AustLII Papers'
of Information, Law and Technology (JILT), Issue 2, 1997, University
of Warwick Faculty of Law, (refereed electronic journal at http://elj.warwick.ac.uk/jilt/issue/1997_2)
(with Mowbray A and King G)
[AustLII 2000a] 'Scalability of Web Resources for Law: AustLII's Technical
Roadmap: Past, Present and Future', 2000 (1) The Journal of Information,
Law and Technology (JILT) <http://www.law.warwick.ac.uk/jilt/00-1/austin.html>
(Austin, D, Mowbray A and Chung, P)
[AustLII 2000b] 'A Defence of Plain HTML for Law: AustLII's Approach
to Standards', 2000 (1)The Journal of Information, Law and Technology
(Chung, P, Mowbray A and Austin, D)
[AustLII 2000c] Solving the Problems of Finding Law on the Web:
World Law and DIAL', 2000 (1) The Journal of Information, Law and Technology
(Greenleaf G, Austin D, Chung P, Mowbray A, Matthews J and Davis M)
[AustLII 2000d] 'Free the Law: How the Australasian Legal Information
Institute (AustLII) Achieved the Free Availability of Legal Information
on the Internet' 2000 (1). The Journal of Information, Law and Technology
[AustLII 2001a] 'Philosophy, Practice and Future of the Australasian
Legal Information Institute (AustLII): Achieving the free availability
of legal information on the Internet' (Transcript) Joint Symposium 2001
- Social Roles of Legal Information Database, Meiji University, Tokyo,
Japan, 19 May 200; published in SHIP Project Review 2001, Meiji
University, Japan; slides only at <http://www2.austlii.edu.au/~graham/Slides/Tokyo2001/>;
transcript will be available at <http://www2.austlii.edu.au/~graham/>
[AustLII 2001b] 'World Law: Finding law after Google' (Graham
Greenleaf, Philip Chung and Russell Allen) Proc. AustLII Law via Internet
2001 Conference, AustLII, Sydney, 2001; will be available at <http://www2.austlii.edu.au/~graham/>
[CanLII 2001a] Daniel Poulin 'CanLII 2000-2004 - a Canadian Model
for a LII '
Proc. AustLII Law via Internet 2001 Conference, AustLII,
[CanLII 2001b] Ernst Perpignand and Daniel Poulin 'CanLII 2000-2004
- Technical Strategy' Proc. AustLII Law via Internet 2001 Conference, AustLII,
[*] Graham Greenleaf is Distinguished
Visiting Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Hong Kong, Professor
of Law, University of New South Wales, Co-Director, Baker & McKenzie
Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre (UNSW), and Co-Director, AustLII; firstname.lastname@example.org;
Philip Chung is Lecturer in Law, University of Technology, Sydney, and
Executive Director, AustLII; email@example.com
Andrew Mowbray is Associate Professor and Associate Dean of the Faculty
of Law, University of Technology, Sydney, and Co-Director, AustLII; firstname.lastname@example.org
This is the basis of the Asian Development Bank's funding for Project DIAL
(Development of the Internet for Asian Law) - see <http://www.austlii.edu.au/links/dial/>.
See AustLII 2000b and AustLII 2001c for an explanation of this approach.
We are not suggesting that LIIs should only provide essential legal information.
They are likely to be involved in the provision of other types of secondary
materials such as law journals, in the provision of 'plain English' guides
to the law and in other approaches to improving public access to the law.
These matters require different considerations from what is discussed in
for a global list
See <http://www.austlii.edu.au/links/2027.html> for a global list
See [AustLII 1997], [AustLII 2000d] and [AustLII 2001a] for more discussion.
This has not been implemented fully on HKLII at the time of writing, due
to the need to modify mark-up scripts to deal with Ordinances. On the AustLII
system, there are over 30M such within-system links.
Tom Bruce 'WORLDLII: A sketch for a distributed search system' <http://barratry.law.cornell.edu/Summit/worldlii.htm>
See [AustLII 2001b] for a detailed description.