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.

The inventor of the web, Tim Berners-Lee, and others advocated that the underlying code for the web should be made open – publicly available on a royalty-free basis, forever. His employer, CERN, concurred and announced this in April 1993, thus sparking a global wave of creativity, collaboration and innovation on a scale not seen before.

Delia Venables’ long-standing and, many would say, iconic Legal Resources website has been relaunched at www.venables.co.uk. First published in 1995 when the legal web was in its infancy, it has grown continually in scope and size and now contains several hundred pages of listings, describing tens of thousands of websites. It remains one of the most useful legal portal sites on the web for the UK and maintains very high authority and trust rankings.

This new incarnation of Venables Legal Resources is published and managed by infolaw, with me at the helm. As long-time publishing partners, Delia and I have collaborated on our respective websites since 1995 and jointly edited the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers and the Internet for Lawyers CPD service for barristers and solicitors for over 13 years.

A snapshot of the type of content provided by the Newsletter in its early days is reproduced below from an old page on Delia’s site, retrieved courtesy of the Internet Archive’s WayBack Machine. It is notable that the range of topics covered is similar to today’s mix. The main difference is that the internet was all very new back then and there was more of a focus on new sites. Delia’s Newsletter served as an essential guide to the emerging wonders of the (legal) web.

Blogging is a simple, cheap, efficient, effective way to publish and update time-sensitive information, particularly in constantly-changing fields such as the law. Blogging puts in your hands publishing power even greater than that which was the preserve of only large, established publishers with fat wallets not so long ago. Content management, feed generation, subscriber management, search engine optimisation: all is built in for free. That’s reason enough for almost everyone and every organisation to consider blogging.

Blogs are not just a publishing format, but a networking tool, a means to reach out and engage with an audience; and blogging is not just about publishing, but about conversing and contributing. That’s how blogs started out – with the desire to share thoughts and “write out loud”.

The Internet, Warts and AllThe Internet, Warts and All: Free Speech, Privacy and Truth by Paul Bernal is not a law book; it is a book about seeking to understand an environment – the internet – in which the law operates. It is a book about law, but “It is also … about technology, about politics, about psychology, about society, about philosophy.” Regulating the internet impacts all these.

Whilst the internet started off as a communications medium and an information resource and, for business, a marketing opportunity, it now underpins almost every aspect of our lives and is integral to the way our society operates. We need to face up to and accept the fact that the internet really is a mess. The way through this mess requires balances and compromises which change as the technologies develop.

This article first appeared in Legal Web Watch November 2018. Legal Web Watch is a free email service which complements the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers. To receive Legal Web Watch regularly sign up here.

HM Courts and Tribunals Service held a public event on 6 November, inviting those who represent public court users to see first-hand the progress made over the last year with the court reform program.

We can (again) help you complete your continuing competence requirements this year.

Our Internet for Lawyers CPD 2018 competence service guides you, via online articles and exercises, through the legal resources and tools available, helps you understand the internet and the legal issues it raises and assists you in the practical application of internet services to your legal practice.

In the last issue we looked at the concept of open law; we should probably now take a step back and consider what is meant by open data.

Open data is the idea that some data should be freely available to everyone to use and republish as they wish, without restrictions from copyright, patents or similar. The philosophy behind it is long established, but the term “open data” itself was more recently coined. It appeared for the first time in 1995, in a document from an American scientific agency, and it gained traction with the rise of the internet and the web as the platform enabling its effective delivery.

New internet-related publications for lawyers.

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.