Towards enhanced public access to legal information: A proposal for official networked one-stop legal information websites

Leesi Ebenezer Mitee

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    Abstract

    Abstract: This article identifies the publishing of fragments of legal information on multiple, isolated official legal information websites (OLIWs) as the major factor underlying the existing problems in locating the available official online legal information of all levels of government (national, state, and local). Given this situation, knowledge of the administrative divisions and legal system of a country is often necessary to perform any reliable search for the websites of each legislature, court, government department or agency that contain legal information. Such knowledge usually requires research, which is more demanding should a person wish to know the laws of other countries for transnational academic research, business transactions, migration, tourism, etc. Examination of the OLIWs of the 51 countries included in this study reveals the existence of this problem in both developed and developing countries. As a response, a novel system of official networked one-stop legal information websites (‘the ONOLIWs system’) is developed in this article, and argued to be the definitive solution to the global problems outlined. The ONOLIWs system guarantees the availability of the whole stock of the legal information of a legislative jurisdiction on one single website (the ONOLIW for that jurisdiction) and also easy accessibility of all the ONOLIWs of a country via an exhaustive index. Therefore, the ONOLIWs system will provide optimum access to the official online legal information of any country, the aggregation of which is seamless access to global legal information. It will thereby promote good knowledge of the law, which has many benefits for individuals, organisations, and the state itself. Governments at all levels, intergovernmental organisations (IGOs) that create legal information, and developers of their OLIWs will benefit immensely from the ONOLIWs concept, its implementation mechanism, and the policy framework proposed in this article.

    Keywords: Right of public access to legal information; Official networked one-stop legal information websites; Legal Information Top-Level Domains (gTLDs); Law website design; Legal informatics; ICANN

    Leesi Ebenezer Mitee, HND Town Planning and LLB (Rivers State University, Nigeria); BL (Nigerian Law School, Lagos); LLM (University of Huddersfield, United Kingdom); PhD Candidate, Tilburg University Law School, The Netherlands; Chief Lecturer in Law, Institute of Legal and Global Studies, Port Harcourt Polytechnic, Rivers State, Nigeria; former legal research consultant to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP, 1998) which provided the juridical foundations for the ECOWAS Moratorium that culminated in the ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons, their Ammunition and other Related Matters 2006. I thank, immensely, the following persons for their most valuable insightful comments on the draft of this Article: Prof. Dr. Ernst M. H. Hirsch Ballin, Tilburg University and University of Amsterdam / Asser Institute, The Netherlands; Dr. Sofia Ranchordás, Assistant Professor of Constitutional and Administrative Law at Leiden Law School, The Netherlands and Affiliated Fellow of the Yale Information Society Project, United States; and Dr. Marc van Opijnen who is affiliated to the Publications Office of the Netherlands (UBR|KOOP). I also thank Dr. Christina Morris for her useful language-proofreading suggestions. Any error is mine. My article, ‘Enhancing Public Access to Legal Information: A Proposal for a New Official Legal Information Generic Top-Level Domain’, published in Volume 23, Issue 2 of the European Journal of Current Legal Issues (2017), is complementary to this article. Email: leesimitee@gmail.com

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    The Human Right of Free Access to Public Legal Information Advocacy Website: https://publiclegalinformation.com
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-38
    Number of pages38
    JournalEuropean Journal of Law and Technology
    Volume8
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 21 Jan 2018

    Keywords

    • Right of public access to legal information; Official networked one-stop legal information websites; Law top-level domain names gTLD; Law website design; Legal informatics; Free access to law movement; Legal information institutes; Internet corporation for assigned names and numbers ICANN
    • Huricompatisation: human rights-compliant public access to the customary law of indigenous communities
    • Public access to law as a human right

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