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Research project

Caselex - CASE Law Exchange - from national information to European knowledge

Responsible: Roberta Nannucci

OBJECTIVE

The development of the information society and the application of new digital tools have considerably changed the context in which both professionals who have very different specialisations and ordinary citizens work, as much at European as at national level. A great deal of attention must, therefore, be concentrated on policy, organisational and scientific strategies that allow these users not only to easily access a large amount of specialised and non-specialised information, available online but also that enables them to interact with it in a more conscious and responsible manner.

Of the different types of legal information produced by public powers in a modern democratic State, case law together with legislative and administrative documentation represents the foundation of public information. Nonetheless, still today, this information is the least available to European professionals and citizens, because existing distribution channels, mainly in the hands of private national publishing houses, are often difficult to access (for example, because of their extremely high cost).

The Caselex (Case Law Exchange) project – a research project co-financed by the European Commission initially under the eContent Programme (2005/2006) and then under the e-Ten Programme (2007-2009) which ended recently (February 2010) – has filled an important gap in this sense by providing an exemplary response to the objectives proposed by the European Union in Directive 2003/98/EC on the Reuse of Public Sector Information.

ACTIVITY

The project has built an information system that stores, in a single data bank, the case law of the High Courts of the various European Member States and EFTA countries on twelve areas of law linked to the implementation of European law which are also accessible with advanced retrieval tools suitable for their multilingual character.

The system offers users, prevalently from the legal professions, transversal and integrated access to European case law developed in the different Member States as implementation of European law and, in this way, it may have as an additional outcome the stimulation of “dialogue” among the courts of European countries, for building a European system guaranteeing the uniform application of the rights that EU law grants European citizens.

The system also has a specialised thesaurus in the various areas of the law covered by it. The thesaurus, constructed on the basis of English terms, has been translated into numerous European and non-European languages.

The service offered to European users for a fee through a subscription to the entire data bank or parts of it, may very well constitute a model to apply in other services in other legal sectors of interest.

RESULTS

The Caselex system covers the period from 2000 up until today.

There are currently [February 2011] around 7500 cases in the data bank relating to the following areas of law:

  • Company Law
  • Competition Law
  • Consumer Protection Law
  • Employment Law
  • Environmental Law
  • Freedom of Movement Law
  • ICT and Media Law, including e-commerce and electronic communications
  • Intellectual Property Law
  • Public Procurement Law
  • Social Security Law
  • Private International Law
  • European Administrative Law

Each document in the data bank is represented by the original text of the case, enriched by a headnote, a summary in the native language of the case, a classification based on the Caselex thesaurus and by referrals to the European and national legislation and case law cited in the case. Headnotes and summaries are also given in English because it is the vehicular language chosen to aid users in searching the system.

Data access is diversified by the use of different browsing methods and simple and advanced search masks; there are many search channels: by country, date, parties, area of law, classification table, cited European and national regulations.

The objective of the project was to market the service to European users. With this in mind, a public-private consortium composed of publishers who would verify the interest of users within their countries of competence was established within the ambit of the project.

Marketing has been assigned to:

Caselex sarl, for Benelux http://www.caselex.com/ (this company has also been responsible for editorial coordination)

Vlex, for Spain and other Spanish-speaking countries http://vlex.com/

Justis, for English-speaking countries http://www.justis.com/

Leksinova, for the Baltic Republics http://www.leksinova.lt/

APIS, for Bulgaria www.apis.bg

The service has aroused great interest especially among lawyers. In some countries (for example, Holland and Lithuania), the service is consulted by members of the High Courts and used by universities.

In Italy, the service is distributed by Giuffrè.

Scientific and administrative coordination of the project has been carried out by Roberta Nannucci on behalf of ITTIG. ITTIG not only took an organisational role in the project but also performed numerous other tasks thereby making a significant contribution to its success, as acknowledged by the European Commission through its evaluators who expressed their approval during the reviews to which the project was submitted to as it progressed.

MATERIALS

- Caselex Thesaurus

COLLABORATORS

MATERIALS
Caselex Thesaurus
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ITTIG /Research/ National and european research projects /Caselex