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JILT 2000 (2) - editorial


Julie Moreton
Production Manager, JILT


1. Introduction

We are very pleased to welcome you to this edition of JILT, the second issue of 2000.

An interesting and diverse journey lies ahead as we travel through many legal IT domains. We will be tackling the sometimes challenging terrains of e-commerce, data-protection, encryption and intellectual property as well as taking in the views from legal information providers, IT system developers, and legal practitioners.

So fasten your seatbelts as we explore a rich selection of refereed articles, commentaries, information papers, conference reports and book reviews.

2. BILETA 2000: World Wide Law

A key event of the year was the BILETA 2000 Conference with the theme of World Wide Law. Philip Leith, the Chair of BILETA provides the conference report.

We are pleased to publish a number of papers from the conference including the wide- ranging keynote address from Peter Martin, Joint Director of the Cornell Legal Information Institute covering the impact of globalisation, digitalisation and commodification on legal education and practice.

3. Access and Legal Information Providers

The issue of access, as examined in the last edition of JILT (2000 1), continues to be a hot topic, and access to legal information within a global context was a theme further developed at the conference.

Lord Justice Brooke in his address highlights the problems we have had in the UK in getting primary legal information up on the Web and in a format that is easy to use and understand for all. Much has been done however in this area in the last year resulting in the launch of the new British and Irish Legal Information Institute (BaiLII) in April 2000, currently hosted and maintained by the Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII).

The US Legal Information Institute at Cornell is another successful model for legal information providers and Tom Bruce examines other possible models for public legal information systems and fuels the centralized/decentralized debate by asking whether the centralized route is really the way forward.

Continuing the theme of access is a report by Stephen Whittle on the new Gateway to Law on the Internet. This is a service developed for the Social Science Information Gateway (SOSIG) by the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies Library and the University of Bristol Law Library, and should be a useful research resource for the UK legal community.

We also feature some more papers from the AustLII conference, Law Via the Internet 1999. For example, Siobhan McCann et al demonstrate the difficulties in connecting indigenous peoples to the Internet in a fascinating account of the Reconciliation and Social Justice Project in Australia.

Systems for access include an intelligent system for retreiving legal information from the web utilising neural networks as demonstrated by Paulo Quaresma and Irene Rodrigues and the system developed by the AustLII inferencing team on the collaborative construction of legal knowledgebases. 

On a different note, a team from Glasgow Caledonian University have carried out an extensive benchmark survey of 83 websites by Scottish legal practices using James Ho's matrix on the public's perception of value-added benefits and the Five Quadrants Evaluation Criteria system developed by the authors.

4. Information Technology Law

With the expected growth and development of e-business over the next five years, the issues surrounding e-commerce, data protection, encryption and intellectual property rights start to take on greater significance. Fundamental concerns are raised about e-contracts, security and regulation, within the public/private and local/global arguments. Governments and companies are struggling to come to terms with just what this will mean as new, often conflicting legislation comes into force.

David Bainbridge offers a critique of the new data protection law in relation to the impact on the processing of personal data and individuals' rights of privacy, while Andres Guadamuz brings a different perspective on data protection by investigating whether the Latin-American responses to data protection are able to fulfill the levels of adequacy demanded by the EU legislation. Sarah Andrews compares the different encryption policies adopted by the US and Europe highlighting many controversial areas.

Christophe Collard and Christophe Roquilly scruntinize the confrontation between distribution networks and e-commerce and propose some secure and efficient operational solutions to the problems, and John Dickie reviews 'E-Commerce and the Law, a book by Ian Lloyd from the University of Strathclyde.

We then move onto the issue of intellectual property rights within small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Philip Leith shows how the European Commission and the European Parliament are keen to expand the use of utility models as a form of protection for software, but questions whether they are really appropriate for SMEs.

5. On a final note ...

Abdul Paliwala takes a retrospective look at the work of the CTI Law Technology Centre, of which JILT has been an integral part. The centre was in operation from 1987 to December 1999, and has been replaced by the new subject centre for law - the UK Centre for Legal Education. Abdul examines the lessons learnt from the CTI model and how these can be incorporated into the new centres.

We hope you enjoy this broad-ranging edition of JILT. The next issue, 2000 (3), will be be published in full at the end of October 2000. This will be featuring more of the BILETA conference papers and also some papers from the Citations Workshop organised by BILETA and SCL in March.

As ever though we are keen to highlight new and important areas of research, so please contact us if you have a paper you'd like to contribute, be it an academic paper, commentary, information paper, a work in progress or book or IT review. We would also like to introduce a regular 'hot topic' slot in a bid to promote further academic debate, so if you have sound academic knowledge of a particular controversial area, then we would be very pleased to hear from you.

Please contact me if you want to discuss anything further ( or see the Submission Standards for further information. Papers for the October issue should be submitted by 16 September 2000.

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