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JILT 1998 (2) - Abdul Paliwala (2)

13th BILETA Conference

The Changing Jurisdiction

Reviewed by
Prof Abdul Paliwala
University of Warwick

This is a Conference Report published on 30 June 1998.

Citation: Paliwala A, '13th BILETA Conference: The Changing Jurisdiction', Conference Report, 1998 (2) The Journal of Information, Law and Technology (JILT). <>. New citation as at 1/1/04: <>.

1. Introduction

On opening BILETA's 13th Annual Conference at Trinity College, Dublin, (27th-28th March 1998), Professor Mary McAleese, the President of the Irish Republic said that Communication and IT in Legal Education had now come in from the cold and was being accepted as part of the mainstream learning process. She spoke as an 'insider' having been a participant in previous BILETA Conferences and having played a key role in the development of C&IT in the professional legal training programme at Queen's University, Belfast.

The success of the Dublin BILETA Conference was evidence of the maturity of the subject both in terms of the number and quality of papers, and the ambience of the conference.

Over forty papers were delivered on the theme of The Changing Jurisdiction with topics ranging from Artificial Intelligence, Computer-assisted Learning, Courts and Litigation Technology, IT Law, Legal Information and Theory.

These were supplemented by four learning workshops on: Technology for Lawyers; Legal Information; The Web; and Implications of the Dearing Report.

In his Keynote address, Lord Justice Brooke echoed Mary McAleese in suggesting that the English and Welsh courts were now seeing C&IT as a mainstream development activity and Mrs Justice Denham elaborated on an impressive plan in the Irish Republic for the development of computerisation. However, it seems our judges still have a long way to go to catch up with jurisdictions in other countries. In the final Plenary session, Mr. Justice Laddie gave a stimulating account of the difficulties judges find in judging cases with a technology element.

It is very difficult to give a full but brief account of a conference with such a wide variety of papers taking place in parallel sessions, but it became apparent that the debates have clearly moved beyond the previous conference discussions of 'how do we do it?' to more critical issues, such as the relevance of education theory in the development of CAL and the in-depth comparisons of the various AI approaches. There was also an increasing awareness of a new generation of learning technology including the Internet and simulations. The issues in Computer Law were greatly concerned with the way the Internet is changing not merely Substantive Law but also the structures of regulation and governance.

The mark of a good conference is always plenty of stimulating papers and lively discussion, and this was certainly the case with the 13th BILETA Conference. However, most of us also remember conferences for the company and the ambience, and without doubt, the Dublin one will be remembered for these reasons. The Irish hosts welcomed everyone with warm hospitality, and the Conference Dinner on Friday night at the King's Inns is one that will be remembered for quite some time.

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