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3.7. Availability of the country's laws on the Internet

It has been our experience in Australia, where there is now a very high level of Internet usage by lawyers in both the primary and secondary audiences, that lawyers did not become enthusiastic about the Internet, nor willing to invest the financial and organisational resources necessary for connectivity, until there was a substantial body of Australian law (legislation and case law) available to enable research. Once this `core' information for their day-to-day work as lawyers was available via Internet access, there was a substantial uptake by all sectors interested in legal information. The AustLII system[88]http:www.austlii.edu.au/], for example, now receives over 80,000 `hits' per day and is searched on average once per second. There are two other large-scale Internet law services in Australia as well, and numerous smaller ones..

Whether a county's own laws are being made available via Internet is therefore, in our view, a matter of considerable significance to the likely use of facilities such as those in Project DIAL, as it is one of the main determinants of overall Internet usage by lawyers.

3.7.1. Seven countries surveyed

The extent to which the laws of each of the seven surveyed countries are already available on the World-Wide-Web can be seen from those countries' pages in Project DIAL's legislation index[89]http://www.austlii.edu.au/links/DIAL_Index/Legislation/].

In Indonesia, there are no large collections of legal information on the World-Wide-Web, only a few pieces of legislation on department home pages, and no large-scale plans to place legal materials on the Internet are known. Pakistan is in a similar situation, with no substantial collections of information yet on the Internet. However, projects are underway to place all State Bank Circulars of the last 20 years on the Internet in the near future, and to make the Pakistan Code available via Internet during 1998. This last initiative could have a substantial effect on Internet use by Pakistan lawyers, in both government and the private sector.

Vietnam differs in that there are large collections of legislation already on the Internet (see the Vietnam page in Project DIAL's legislation index[90]http://www.austlii.edu.au/links/Vietnam/Legislation/]), located both in Vietnam and in Australia. However, access to these resources from Vietnam has not been possible until 1 December 1997 (see above). Vietnamese law is provided on CD-ROM and on disk by a number of providers, most notably Pacific R.I.M.`s bilingual collection of statutory materials. As part of the new Internet arrangements in Vietnam, there are five official information content providers (ICP), including Pacific R.I.M.'s Vietnam Online [91]http://www.vietnamonline.net] (which does not yet include the legislation database).

There are no significant collections of Philippines laws yet available on the Internet, and no proposals known to make them so available. There are, however, extnsive collections of Philippines laws available on CD-ROM. It is possible that the RPWeb initiative (described above) may change this.

Official translations of Mongolian laws are not yet available on the Internet, although there is an unofficial translation of some laws as they were a few years ago[92]http://www.austlii.edu.au/links/Mongolia/Legislation/].


China's laws are available via Internet from a variety of sources, both free access and `pay for use'[93]http://www.austlii.edu.au/links/China_-_Peoples_Republic/Legislation/], but most cover only some parts of China's legislation, often in unofficial English translations. The most extensive source seems to be[94]http://www.lawhk.hku.hk/] a commercial service[95], Law-On-Line[96]http://www.lawhk.hku.hk/ ] which provides the Internet version of the full text of China's national and regional laws and regulations provided by the Information Centre of the State Council Legislative Affairs Bureau (which also provides a CD-ROM version).

From November 1997, the statutes of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and selected constitutional documents are available free via Internet[97]http://www.justice.gov.hk]. This is one of the most extensive free access legislation collections in Asia.

On-line services which are not strictly speaking `on' the Internet but can be accessed via Internet also include Chinese law databases. From 1989, the West Group's WestLaw online service carried a database called `CHINALAW - Laws and Regulations of the People's Republic of China', containing English translations of selected national and provincial business and trade laws dating back to 1949. This service was withdrawn in 1996. Butterworths Asia, the distributor of Lexis-Nexis online information service, one of the largest databases of legal information in the world, has online legal libraries including Hong Kong Cases and Annotated Ordinances of Hong Kong.

There are a number of computerised collections of Chinese laws which could provide the basis for substantial Internet resources at a future date. These include:

The Asian Development Bank has funded a feasibility study of the provision of assistance to the Bureau of Legislative Affairs (BLA) to translate and publish foreign related laws of China in English[98].

The effect of all of these developments is that it seems likely that extensive legislative and other legal information from China will become available via Internet from multiple sources in the near future.


Although there are not a large number of Indian law sites on the Internet, those that do exist are very significant, giving India one of the most extensive collections of central government legal information available via the Internet. However, the most extensive resources are only available to subscribers.

The National Informatics Centre (NIC), in cooperation with the Legislative Department of the Ministry of Law and Justice, provides the `India Code' INCODIS on its nationwide satellite based computer communication network NICNET and via the Internet[99]http://caselaw.delhi.nic.in/]. INCODIS contains all Central Acts of Parliament as on date, from 1834 onwards, with sophisticated features[100]. It is searchable and is reported to be very `user friendly'. INDOCIS can only be accessed on a subscription basis. NIC, as part of the computerization of the Ministry, has implemented a System for drafting of legislation, and is therefore in a position to provide rapid updates to INDOCIS.

NIC also provides the Judgements Information System (JUDIS) via Internet[101]http://caselaw.delhi.nic.in/], which includes the full text of Supreme Court decisions since 1950. It is also a subscription service. NIC has also developed other court databases not on the Internet, including the Supreme Court's (SC)pending cases database.

There are also some other Indian legal resources which are available for free access via Internet[102]http://www.austlii.edu.au/links/India/], including some Bills passed by the Lok Sabha, and some High Court cases (but both of these resources are not up to date), and extensive materials on securities and exchange laws.

In addition, there are a number of disk-based computer products under development which could eventually be converted to the Internet. One CD-ROM to be launched in early 1998 intends to provide comprehensive legislation and caselaw, in competition with the NIC databases. The JURIX system, in contrast, provides legislation and caselaw only in selected `high value' areas.

3.7.2. Conclusions

The availability of extensive collections of national laws from India, China and Vietnam on the Internet already provides a very strong incentive to legislation officials, private lawyers and other secondary audiences in those countries to access the Internet in order to do legal work. This is likely to be a very significant factor in the rapidity of uptake of the Project DIAL facilities in those countries. In the other four countries surveyed, there is less legal information from those countries yet available on the Internet, but there are significant developments underway in Pakistan.

As can be seen from Project DIAL's legislation index[103]http://www.austlii.edu.au/links/DIAL_Index/Legislation/], there is some legislation from over 50 countries available via the Internet, including from at least 10 DMCs of the Bank. This has occurred in the first three years of the infancy of the World-Wide-Web, and can be reasonably expected to expand very considerably in coming years. In all of these countries the existence of some national legal information on the Internet will act as an incentive for local Internet use, and will facilitate take-up of the Project DIAL resources.







[94] Updating has however been suspended since September 1997 -

[95] Law-On-Line was started in 1995 by the University of Hong Kong Aculty of Law with a University grant, and operated in conjunciton with Asian Information Resources Ltd (AIR), a commercial database provider. Since 1997 it has been commercialised and is now operated by AIR.



[98] TA No. 2707 - PRC


[100] INDOCIS includes for each Act its Short Title , Enactment Date, Sections, Schedules, footnotes, Statement of Objects and Reasons(SOR), Table of Contents and Status.




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