Project deliverable Open Access

openlaws.eu: BOLD Vision 2020 - Designing a Vision for the Future of Big Open Legal Data

Wass, Clemens; Sageder, Christian; Winkels, Radboud; van Eechoud, Mireille; Marsden, Chris; Guadamuz, Andres; Dini, Paolo; van der Graaf, Shenja; Passani, Antonella; Heistracher, Thomas; Hirsch, Eduard; Marcon, Giulio; Zanolio, Matteo

The vision of openlaws.eu is to make access to justice easier for citizens, business- es and legal experts. For this purpose, an innovative legal information platform has been designed by the openlaws.eu project, considering the needs of various stakeholder groups as well as the latest developments in technology and our information society.

Access to justice is a fundamental problem in the European Union. There are over 500 million citizens and over 21 million businesses who live, work and operate in 28 jurisdictions, written in 24 official languages. A common market cannot work without a legal system as a basis. Legal information is a public good and it is the duty of governments and the EU to inform citizens and business about the law. In a democracy and under the rule of law everybody should know legislation and case law – or at least have access to it.

Legal tech is a new terms for new technology that can be applied to legal information in order to create better access and better understanding of the law. However, just because things can be done, does not mean automatically that they are done. Financial and organisational restrictions and the lack of competency can be a deal-breaker for innovation. Open data, open innovation and open source software can be a potential solution to this problem, especially when combined to one coherent ecosystem.

openlaws.eu has developed a prototype platform upon these new open concepts. The application and implementation of some of the features of this innovative legal cloud service indicate where the road of “Big Open Legal Data” can lead us in the upcoming years. The project team envisages an environment, where a “social layer” is put on top of the existing “institutional layer”. Citizens, businesses and legal experts can actively collaborate on the basis of primary legislation and case law. Linked and aggregated legal data provide a solid basis. Such information can then be represented in traditional and more innovative ways. Text and data mining as well as legal intelligence help to process large amounts of legal information automatically, so that experts can focus on the more complicated questions.

In the next five years more and more legal data will be opened up, not only because of the PSI Directive, but also because it is in the best interest of governments. As a result, we anticipate that more legal tech start-ups will emerge, as already happened during the past two years. They will apply innovative concepts and new technology on existing legal information and create better access to justice in the EU, in Member States and in the world.

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