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JILT 1996 (3) - Peter Faris

Australian High Court Judgement Service

Peter Faris QC

About four months ago I set up a free same day judgment service for High Court of Australia judgements. To set it up I purchased a subscription from the Court (judgments are issued in written form and on disk usually on the day of delivery). This cost about 600 pounds pa. The service was run using the mailing list software Majordomo. Subscriptions were handled by web page forms or the more traditional email.

The format of the judgment bulletins was to include the catchwords (prepared by the Court staff) together with a hypertext link to the actual judgment. This judgment sat at my web site in an archive. All judgements were full text searchable.

I advertised the service on various law related newsgroups and it was instantly successful and attracted over 1000 subscribers worldwide.

As far as I know, this is the only judgment service which uses the combination of a listserver, hypertext and searchable archives. I have since sold that part of my Internet business but (happily) the free service still continues.

If anyone, anywhere in the world, is interested in setting up a similar list, I would be pleased to help.

I provided the service free because it was an advertisement for my (commercial) site, Lawnet. The issue of charging for such a service has not yet been resolved. As thing stand at the moment, the subscription cost of the judgements would be covered if each list subsciber paid 50 cents per year. Plainly you cannot have an annual subscription of 50 cents - accounting and administrative costs would eat it up. It remains to be seen whether people would pay (say) $10 per year. If so, it would be viable to develop a lot more services like this. On the other hand, the inherent culture of the Net is that things should be free. I don't know what the answer to this conundrum is. I suspect that governments should be actively using listservers to distribute information like this. I would certainly be interested in being part of any project, commercial or otherwise, in running listservers for cases and legislation.

Date of publication: 30 September 1996

Citation: Faris P (1996), 'Australian High Court Judgement Service', Web Review, 1996 (3) The Journal of Information, Law and Technology (JILT). <>. New citation as at 1/1/04: <>

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