OTTAWA, February 17, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - There are now one million Canadian court and tribunal decisions freely available over the internet, courtesy of the Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII). It has taken 12 years for this comprehensive online legal resource to reach the one million mark, a total that includes judgments from more than 200 legal sources.
The one millionth judgment loaded into the CanLII database was a judgement from the Supreme Court of Canada.
CanLII is an initiative of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, the national umbrella group for Canada's 14 regulators of Canada's 100,000 lawyers and 3,500 Quebec notaries in the public interest. It was launched in 2000 on a test basis to provide efficient and free access to the growing number of judicial decisions and legislative documents available on the internet.
In 2001, the Federation established CanLII as an ongoing, not-for-profit service to support the legal profession's research needs while providing the public with permanent, open and free access to the legal heritage of all Canadian jurisdictions. Now guided by a skilled independent Board of Directors, CanLII has recently released a document establishing its strategic priorities for 2012 to 2014. Under its new plan, CanLII continues the original mission established by the Federation but will also pursue content and technological enrichment for the benefit of its professional and public users.
According to Colin Lachance, President and CEO of CanLII,
"reaching the million mark has involved adding both new and historical judgments to the database". Mr. Lachance adds, "CanLII now grows by more than 120,000 judgments a year, approximately 20 per cent of which are older cases that add depth to our collection."With an average of 25,000 individual users visiting the site daily, CanLII is clearly achieving the objective of making the law available to an interested public.
"Adding these historical judgments has only been possible because of the generous support and participation of various provincial law foundations, and courts and tribunals across the country" the CanLII President says. "Challenges remain in light of the evolving needs of the legal profession, and the growing public interest in access to legal information as a means of promoting access to justice. We anticipate establishing wider alliances over the coming years with groups and institutions focused on promoting understanding of the law."
The CanLII database is maintained under a services agreement by Lexum Inc., a private Montreal-based company that started out as the LexUM data laboratory of the Université de Montréal. Lexum, a leading Canadian legal technologies provider and publisher of the Supreme Court of Canada judgments since 1992, has been there since the beginning.
"This project started with less than 300 judgments" says Daniel Poulin, President of Lexum Inc. and holder of the Legal Information Chair of the Law Faculty of the Université de Montréal. "We have been looking forward to celebrating this milestone for a long time."
The President of the Federation, John Hunter, Q.C., says from the beginning CanLII existed for the purpose of making Canadian law freely available via the internet.
"CanLII is a non-profit organization created by the Federation and Canada's law societies and it is funded by all members of the legal profession through their law society dues", Mr. Hunter noted.
Through the past 12 years, CanLII has also benefited from crucial contributions from federal, provincial and territorial governments and their official publishers who have all made their legislative texts available.
Access to the CanLII service is available at www.canlii.org, or through the web site of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada www.flsc.ca.