BAILII Survival Appeal

July 4, 2011

From Chris James, Legal Counsel, UBS 

I’ve been asked to jot down why I am a fan of BAILII.   I have two reasons that happily come together: 1. it chimes with a political ambition that I support – the open access to public data – and 2. it makes my work easier.   

As to the first reason, it is gratifying that the legal profession is at the forefront of open access.  A quick check of the document ‘BAILII in a Nutshell’, posted on the BAILII web site, suggests that, at the last count, 62% of its users are not legal professionals.  Given the importance of the material, this is certainly as it should be. 

As to the second reason, for the remaining 38% of us who practice, I note that many of the legal updates, blogs and articles that I read link to BAILII in preference to the proprietary databases.  I welcome the ability to clarify a case summary or read the surrounding dicta at a click.  I suspect that many lawyers routinely use BAILII without a second thought (like me, until I was asked to write this), which to my mind is a testament to its importance and success. 

From Peter Land, Barrister at Atkin Chambers 

I have access to a number of subscription services in Chambers but I find BAILII to be a very useful, if not indispensable, addition to those services. Whilst I will generally not use BAILII for general research purposes, it is frequently the quickest way of obtaining the text of a judgment where I know the party names or citation and the easiest source for copying extracts into other documents. Being in specialist construction and technology practice, I also find it is the most convenient and reliable way (in combination with a free page monitoring service) to keep up to date with the latest TCC decisions, the judgments being conveniently listed by High Court division and generally seeming to appear on BAILII sooner than on the subscription services. BAILII also has the benefit of reproducing the layout of the judgment faithfully (using the view as rtf option) and in a format that is easier on the eye than many of the subscription services. 

From Marnie Ellison, Librarian, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (UK) LLP 

BAILII is an excellent source of primary legal materials which I often to use to locate transcripts not available from other sources.  The list of recent decisions and being able to search for cases by citation are really useful features.  The service is reliable, with good search and browse functionality.  BAILII also provides links to cases and legislation in other jurisdictions which can be hard to find elsewhere.  The coverage is getting better and better and new information is being added all the time.  It is a great service which allows everyone access to key legal information all in one place. 

Laurence Eastham, SCL Editor 

Can you remember the days when you could not access judgments? No? That’s how important BAILII is. Without BAILII we would have to pay to access every judgment bar the handful that are made available via the Supreme Court of Her Majesty’s Courts Service. And commercial realities suggest that, without BAILII, we would be paying through the nose because the commercial providers would be only too well aware that we had to have one of their products. I use BAILII many times each week and like many people who try to engage others in debate about legal developments or to draw attention to cases, I refer others to it because the alternative is referring them to sources that they probably will not be able to access.  

BAILII’s Appeal for Funds 

BAILII provides British and Irish case law & legislation, European Union case law, Law Commission reports, and other law-related British and Irish material. BAILII is widely recognised as providing a very useful service to the general public, the legal profession, the blogging community, students, voluntary organisations, lawyers overseas and others in providing subscription-free access to law reports and legislation from the UK and Ireland.

BAILII’s future is uncertain, because of the lack of secure funding.  If BAILII is to survive, it is essential to find sufficient sets of Chambers, firms of solicitors, associations of lawyers and/or related professionals, publishers and other companies to give informal commitments to make donations to BAILII year on year on an ongoing basis, in order to put BAILII onto a secure financial footing before its existing funds run out.  We need much more support, partly in order to replace existing sponsorship which is not being continued, and to make up for the fact that in any event BAILII’s expenditure has in recent years been exceeding its income from sponsorship.

Please lobby within your organisation for ongoing funding for BAILII and consider making a donation to reflect its value to you over years gone by and in years to come.

Further details about BAILII and its appeal are available here: