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Free, Worldwide Access to Legal Information

pbdetail.jpgThe LII’s Director Tom Bruce attended the Hague Conference on Private International Law to participate in an October 20th discussion about how to provide judges with clear, useful information related to transnational litigation issues.  The Hague Conference is a global inter-governmental organization with 68 member states. Its mission is to build bridges between legal systems — for example, civil law and common law or religious law and secular law. The agenda of the October meeting was to work toward a multinational convention, which, if approved, will become a binding instrument for countries that ratify it.

Tom’s participation is a result of his years of experience — besides directing one of the world’s foremost providers of free legal information, he (with Peter Martin) developed the world’s first web site that provided free access to legal information, and he has written extensively about information policy.  Claire Germain, Cornell’s Law Librarian also attended the meeting, along with representatives from the LII’s sister organizations CanLII and AustLII; legal librarians including the Library of Congress; commercial litigators, academics and judges specializing in transnational commercial litigation; and people who design transnational legal information systems.

The meetings concluded with a draft convention that will be further developed by The Hague Conference. The convention calls for free access to law worldwide, encouraging national governments to provide authoritative versions of their digital law documents, legislation, court decisions, and regulations. Principles of the convention also included providing translation of the materials, adopting internationally consistent and medium-neutral citation methods, and encouraging other parties to reproduce their legal materials for free public access.