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Cite as: December 2011 85(12) LIJ, p.64

This month's reviews cover human rights information, papers tabled in the Australian Senate, social science research, visual presentation of evidence, a free case citator and business laws.

European Court of Human Rights Search Portal

The reviewer was asked to recommend a few good resources to locate human rights information, and a definite inclusion for any list is the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) Search Portal, located on the ECHR website. This internet portal contains several collections, including the press release collection and HUDOC, the database of case law of the ECHR. The press release collection publishes new Chamber, Grand Chamber and Committee judgments, as well as notifications of forthcoming hearings. The HUDOC database provides an excellent search facility that allows you to search by application number, case title, date or even keywords. Where available, the results are published in both French and English. Reports from the former European Commission of Human Rights are also available here, from 1963 onwards.

Senate Tabled Papers

This searchable database, which is contained in the Parliament of Australia website, holds digitised images of the Senate Tabled Papers from 1901 to 2010. While the homepage only contains the search box, the resulting content that can be accessed is extensive. The search option allows you to look for a myriad of information, including budget papers, conference and committee reports, royal or other commission reports and parliamentary papers. You can also search for legislative documents such as explanatory memoranda and second reading speeches. If you are not sure what type of information you are looking for, you can browse by the subject area in the “group” feature. The resulting documents have been scanned from their paper format and are presented as a link to a PDF attachment.

Social Science Research Network (SSRN)

This website is a staple tool for the reviewer who is trying to locate research papers in the field of social sciences, whether the search be for legal, management or finance matters. The SSRN eLibrary consists of two parts: a database of abstracts of scholarly working papers and forthcoming papers; and the Electronic Paper Collection, which contains more than 297,000 documents, all of which are full text and can be downloaded. Features worth a look are the top papers and authors, which are ranked according to the number of downloads. Papers that are ranked highly are those by researchers and academics from notable universities and institutes around the world. The ranking is updated weekly and the current top result is the curiously named “What is marriage?”, looking at the US legislation of Proposition 8.

Cogent Legal Blog

The library stumbled across this one via an @theLIJ tweet and we were instantly hooked. The blog focuses mainly on “legal graphics” and presents, for example, tips on using Google Earth and Google Maps for use in court, and similar posts dealing with the visual presentation of evidence as a means of better communicating your case. Blog author Morgan C. Smith is a Californian attorney, but discussion on US substantive law topics rarely makes an appearance, so if you are involved in court appearances or even mediation the relevance factor remains high. Smith clearly presents the case for the effectiveness of visual persuasion, but (as quoted by Smith) Mark Twain as usual steals the day: “Don’t say the old lady screamed – bring her on and let her scream”.

Jade 3.0

Before you even ask, Jade is not AustLII. But it is an online case citator, and you can use it to search for case law by name or subject area, much as you can on AustLII. An open law initiative of the not-for-profit BarNet, Jade features a slick user interface and customisation abilities that compare pretty well to those of the big (and expensive) legal publishers, so it is a godsend for the small firm on a tight budget. Jade lets you save your searches, tag cases with relevant keywords (you can make these public or private), set up custom alerts (by court and/or keyword) and have new case law delivered to you via email or RSS. One disclaimer, though: Jade case law is not nearly as historically extensive as AustLII, so to be sure you’ve covered everything, use both.

Doing Business Law Library

The Doing Business Law Library claims to be the largest free collection of business laws and regulations from around the world. The site itself is just a database: it links to official government sources (where possible), and is designed to work more like a filter than a search engine. Using a series of checkboxes you can choose to display relevant legislation about, say, securities laws in Canada, or broaden the filter to an entire region – tax laws in South Asia, for example. Laws are provided in English when available, and even if you come across the occasional broken link you at least discover the titles of the relevant laws in the required region. One caveat: the interface is clunky, and you inevitably end up hitting the “create/modify” button twice to get the required results.

Website reviews are provided by the LIV library, ph 9607 9360; email We welcome suggestions for websites to include in this column. Neither the LIV nor the LIJ in any way endorses or takes any responsibility whatsoever for any material contained on external websites referred to by the LIJ.


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