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March 1, 1999


The full text opinions of the Supreme Courts of Scotland and otherinformation became freely available on 24 February on a Web site provided byScottish Court Service, the Executive Agency responsible for providing servicesin the Supreme and Sheriff Courts. Court of Session opinions from September 1998are included and Commercial cases from January 1998. The site will includeselected judgments from the High Court including some sentence appeals. Thepages will be updated at approximately 2pm on any day on which new opinions areto be published. Selected judgments from the Sheriff Courts will be added as thedatabase is developed.

Both keyword and structured searching (ie by type of opinion, date, name ofjudge or name of pursuer, appellant, etc) is provided and it is possible tosearch across the text of the judgments themselves once selected. There are noplans at present to remove the judgments after a set period of time.

This is an important and exciting development and one for which SCL, and JohnSibbald in particular, has lobbied hard, to the extent of offering at one stageto undertake the publication and provide free access to the judgments on theSociety’s own Web site. Not only will this development bring improvements tothe administration of justice in a number of ways, but it will provide freeaccess to this source of law, which like all law the citizen is deemed to know.It will put the Scottish legal system fairly and squarely on the Net, wherehitherto it has been noticeably absent, with the opportunity to participate inthe increasing global market for legal services. It will undoubtedly set astandard for other jurisdictions.

As well as the judgments, the site provides a considerable amount of otherinformation which will be useful to the practitioner, as well as to the laymanwho wishes to know more about the Scottish legal system. There is informationabout court personnel and their functions, judges, addresses and location mapsfor Sheriff Courts, the Rules of the Court of Session and downloadable guidanceinformation and leaflets. Feedback is encouraged from users and those visitingthe site.

It is hoped to carry a more detailed article in a later issue of themagazine.

SCRIPT Launched

The Shepherd & Wedderburn Centre for Research in IntellectualProperty and Technology (SCRIPT) at the University of Edinburgh was launched onFriday 12 February with an inaugural lecture before an invited audience by MrJustice Jacob, Patent Judge of the English High Court and President of SCRIPT.

This joint venture between Shepherd & Wedderburn, solicitors, and the LawFaculty at Edinburgh University is intended to rival the work of leadingintellectual property centres in London, Munich and the United States. TheCentre will be an inter-disciplinary body with contacts in a variety of academicdepartments of a number of UK and foreign universities, together with bodiessuch as the World Trade Organisation, the World Intellectual PropertyOrganisation, the Patent Office, the European Patent Office, ScottishEnterprise, Nominet UK Ltd, the Edinburgh College of Art and the RoslinInstitute.

The Centre has already established links with SCL, and John Sibbald, Chairmanof the Scottish Group is on the Advisory Board. The Centre and the ScottishGroup are currently exploring a joint conference with the Royal College ofSurgeons on medical and Internet related issues.