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Part B - The world -wide law library on the internet

As discussed in Part A of this paper, with the proliferation of sources of valuable legal information on the internet (in Australia as is the case world wide), one of the main challenges facing public legal information institutes is to provide effective access to this distributed legal data. AustLII's involvement in attempts to find an answer to the problems of world-wide legal research have accelerated due to its involvement as host for a prototype project funded by the Asian Development Bank, Project DIAL[18]http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/special/dial/].

Despite its recent development, the web already contains an astonishing variety of legal materials from dozens of countries. Significant collections of legislation are already available on the web from over 50 countries[19]http://www.austlii.edu.au/links/DIAL_Index/Legislation/]. The full text is available on the web of all legislation from almost all the jurisdictions of the USA, Canada, Australasia, many Latin American countries and some European countries (such as Norway and Germany), and extensive collections from many other European counties (such as the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Portugal). Substantial collections of legislation are available from many developing countries, including India, Turkey, Kazakhstan, South Africa, Vietnam, Zambia, China, Mexico and Israel.

There are also extensive collections of case law from about 20 countries, particularly from North America and Australasia and some European courts, but also courts from India, Korea, Brazil and other countries. The Parliaments of dozens of countries have web pages, and these contain many significant resources concerning legislation and law reform. Law reform commissions and similar bodies are starting to make their reports and working papers available via the web. There are specialist university and other centres which provide very large specialist collections of materials in areas such as constitutional law, trade law, the law of the sea and human rights.

Despite the abundance of valuable legal materials already on the web, and the rapidity with which these materials are expanding, these materials are often very difficult to find, since they are scattered across thousands of web sites located all around the world.



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