English Law Reports removed from LexisNexis and Thomson Reuters in Australia and NZ ... Daniel Hoadley from the Incorporated Council of Law Reporting explains why
FOR the past century and a half, the Incorporated Council of Law Reporting for England and Wales - the pre-eminent and authoritative provider of English case law - has been producing constant and meticulous coverage of law-changing judgments coming from the English courts.
For the vast bulk of our history, we have dutifully selected the most important cases, produced a note of the argument given in court and printed our reports in beautiful volumes that still adorn the shelves of law libraries all over the world.
Although the ICLR's roots are thoroughly Victorian - we just celebrated our 150th anniversary in October 2015 - we have recognised the need to safeguard our ability to continue to produce law reports of the highest quality for our clients.
As of January 1, 2017 access to our content, including the series The Law Reports, will no longer be available through LexisNexis and Westlaw in Australia and New Zealand, the United States and Canada. By removing our law reports from LexisNexis and Westlaw, the ICLR is directly confronting the increasingly commercialised digital landscape to regain control over the content we publish.
As an organisation in which the majority of staff are writers and editors, the rapid rise of online legal research was a phenomenon we were challenged to understand and seize upon.
As a charity, our mission was never to go blazing technological trails and maximising profits. Our main priority was to continue to produce the most accurate account of English common law as it developed in the courts at moderately priced rates. Nevertheless, we have worked to embrace technological change which began with the launch of ICLR Online in 2011.
In response to the sharp downturn in print sales, the ICLR struck up valuable partnerships with several commercial publishers, including Thomson Reuters, LexisNexis and Justis Publishing. The licensing strategy has to date enabled users from around the world to access our reports online, but in order for us to continue producing the high quality and timely law reports for which we are known, we must return to directly providing our work to the end user.
The decision to remove our content from Westlaw and LexisNexis in Australasia and North America was not taken lightly. However, the work we do is of considerable importance to the effective administration of justice and our core priority is to ensure that we have both the independence and resources to continue our work.
Our ability to generate accurate and authoritative law reports makes a difference in chambers and courtrooms up and down the UK and across the common law world. Over the past few days, people in the UK have watched live broadcasts of the UK government's appeal to the Supreme Court in the Brexit case. Virtually all of the authorities cited by both sides of the argument are the reports produced by the ICLR.
We are keen to open dialogue with our clients in Australia and New Zealand to ensure we are supporting their needs during this period of change. This includes working closely with both LexisNexis and Thomson Reuters in these jurisdictions to ensure all customers benefit from a straightforward and seamless transition to ICLR Online.
The ICLR has been the not-for-profit author of the definitive account of English common law since the days of Queen Victoria and Abraham Lincoln and we intend to protect our history whilst moving forward with the future.
Daniel Hoadley, Barrister and Research & Development Manager at The Incorporated Council of Law Reporting for England & Wales