Author archive

Nick Holmes

Nick Holmes is Editor of this Newsletter. He is a publishing consultant specialising in the legal sector and is Managing Director of legal web services company infolaw Limited. Nick is also co-editor, with Delia Venables of the Internet for Lawyers CPD service. He manages the infolaw UK legal web portal at infolaw.co.uk, blogs on legal information issues at Binary Law and tweets at @nickholmes. Email nickholmes@infolaw.co.uk.

Back in November 2012, I described in the Newsletter how, since ebooks had hit the big time, the law publishers had enthusiastically responded. Where are we now?

In terms of the general picture, ebook sales have recently plateaued, though reports of its demise are premature. According to Simon Rowberry, writing in The Bookseller: “On the surface, the narrative of the ebook’s demise may appeal to bibliophiles who cherish print – but the reality behind ebooks’ recent plateau is more complex”.

Most types of primary legislation (eg Acts, Measures, NI Orders in Council) on legislation.gov.uk are intended to be held in “revised” form, meaning that amendments made by subsequent legislation are incorporated into the text. Most types of secondary legislation are not revised and are held only in the form in which they were originally made.

A central criticism of legislation.gov.uk in the past has been that much primary legislation is not in fact up to date, in some cases lagging several years behind amending instruments. However, recent efforts have turned this situation around.

Legislation.gov.uk is now in the final stages of a programme to bring all the revised legislation fully up to date. Except for a few special cases that require extra work (such as the Taxes Management Act 1970), the backlog of outstanding effects will have been cleared and the revised legislation brought up to date by the end of 2018.

Open law is the idea that public legal information should be freely available to everyone to access, use and republish. The current position in the UK differs completely as between legislation and case law.

This article first appeared in Legal Web Watch December 2017. Legal Web Watch is a free email service which complements the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers. To receive Legal Web Watch regularly sign up here.

Two recent reports consider in some detail the application of technology in delivering legal advice and assistance, viewed through different prisms. Both are, I think, essential reading if you are at all interested in legal tech as we are in danger of being swept away by the hype surrounding leading edge AI and blockchain developments at the top end of the market.

In Algorithms and the Law, a paper by Jeremy Barnett, Adriano Soares Koshiyama and Philip Treleaven, the authors discuss the emergence of algorithms as artificial persons and the need to formally regulate them. It aims to start discussion in the legal profession regarding the legal impact of algorithms on companies, software developers, insurers and lawyers.

The new HMCTS divorce online service has moved out of Beta and is now online at www.gov.uk/apply-for-divorce. It offers prompts and guidance to assist people in completing their application. The whole process can be completed online, including payment and uploading supporting evidence.

The service has already contributed to a 95 per cent drop in the number of applications being returned because of mistakes.

The “fully updated” second print edition of The Law Society Guide to Good Practice includes 100 current Law Society practice notes, plus details of useful contacts and further resources, an index and tables of citations. It is 972 pp, weighs 1.5 kg, occupies 4.3 cm of shelf space and costs £60.

Website address by Descrier

The answer to this question is, of course, “It depends.” It depends on the context.

First, let’s get some terminology out of the way. We are all familiar with a domain name, like example.com. The bit in front of a domain name, www or whatever, is a subdomain. The domain name without any prefix is sometimes referred to as a “bare” or “naked” domain.

What’s the www for?

Originally the www subdomain prefix was intended to refer to the website within a particular domain, as opposed to other subdomains like ftp (referring to the file transfer site) and so on. Web publishers will now often use a subdomain to host their blog (eg blog.example.com) or for particular large areas of their website, such as areas of legal practice (eg commercial.example.com).

Lollipop is coming by Guiseppe Milo

It’s already past the season for annual predictions which have become a staple of the legal tech media. Generally these predictions rely heavily on the direction taken by technologies in the last year, so I thought it would be more fruitful to look at what we collectively learned in 2017, without any added crystal ball-gazing. I asked several Newsletter contributors for their main takeaways from 2017. What particularly engaged them?

It has been apparent for some time that the biggest tech companies, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Twitter, have grown too large for our collective good. 2017 was the year we finally started trying to figure out how to do something about that. We look here at the huge “platforms” in particular. AI and court reform were other big issues of the day.

Our 2017 review continues with AI, social media, machine learning, algorithms and robots taking jobs.

Our 2017 review continues with developments in the courts.

Links by Balrog Daemon

Links are fundamental to the web; without them it would literally not exist. So, it is surprising that legal advice on linking usually starts by counselling the linker that they should first obtain permission. See, for example, Linking and Framing on Out-Law.com (admittedly, that was 2008) and Think before you link on Pitmans’ Insights (2017).

Not only is this impractical, but also most sites are in fact keen for others to link to them for the attendant “eyeballs” and the “Google juice”. So, whilst strictly in law permission is needed, in practice we can assume permission if we link responsibly.