Following the promotion of John Sheridan to Digital Director at The National Archives, Matthew Bell has been appointed the new Head of Legislation Services. A law graduate from Manchester University, Matt started his career in legal publishing in 1999 when he joined Sweet and Maxwell to help establish Westlaw UK. By the time he left Westlaw, in 2016, Matt headed up the legislation department, and was responsible for delivering a range of innovative technical products. But Matt was attracted to the public sector, as he explains:
“I’ve always been impressed by legislation.gov.uk and the opportunity to join The National Archives to lead the team behind it was one I just couldn’t miss. I’m keen to bring my commercial legal publishing experiences to bear in the public sector, to drive innovation and explore new ways of ensuring that everyone has access to up-to-date legislation.”
Legislation.gov.uk is delivered by The National Archives under a commercial contract which is due to expire in January 2018. One of Matt’s first challenges has been to kick start the procurement process. The Prior Information Notice has just been published on the GOV.UK website and provides interested suppliers with an opportunity to make an active contribution to how legislation is accessed and used across the UK.
“I’m looking for suppliers who are as excited as I am by the potential of legislation.gov.uk. It’s a fantastically well used public service – visited by over 2 million people each month – but I know we can take it further and transform how non-legally trained professionals understand legislation. I want to refine our editorial, publishing and research services to meet new challenges, and enable us to work even more effectively. Suppliers will inherit a world-class technical platform – it’s definitely not starting from scratch. Over the next five years, my challenge is to make sure that legislation.gov.uk continues to deliver a relevant and first-rate service to all of its users – and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Bloomsbury Law Online
Bloomsbury Professional recently launched Bloomsbury Law Online, providing fully searchable, instant access to content from more than 120 leading law titles over 21 practice areas, with updates added as new content becomes available.
Pricing is per user per practice area, with discounts for multi-use licences.
The service has been developed using the same open source platform and with the benefit of the experience of its successful Tax service which published in 2011.
Andy Hill, Head of Legal Publishing, believes that changing customer expectations about online services give smaller publishers like Bloomsbury a tremendous opportunity to shake up the old world order to the benefit of the legal profession:
“The only way in which we can challenge the more established incumbents in our industry is by offering our customers great-quality products at cost-effective prices and in their preferred format. This, in turn, enables our customers to be more profitable and to challenge their own larger rivals. We have already seen the positive impact of this development in the tax profession, where cost-effective content is making it more viable for small practitioners to run their own businesses. In the past, they were too often handicapped by the high cost of information.”
ICLR Online goes it alone abroad
For several years, ICLR have licensed the law reports of English cases to LexisNexis and Westlaw in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States. This came to an end on 1 January 2017 and ICLR law reports are now available in those jurisdictions only directly through the ICLR Online service.
Kevin Laws, ICLR’s Chief Executive Officer explains why ICLR have taken this decision:
“Licensing the ICLR’s law reports to commercial publishers like Thomson Reuters and LexisNexis was a critical development as ICLR moved from print to online in the early 2000s. However, … the effective administration of justice in common law jurisdictions requires independent, accurate and authoritative law reporting … at moderate, transparent prices. For ICLR to continue to provide the high quality and timely law reports for which we are known, we must return to directly providing our work to the end user.”
“The removal of our law reports from LexisNexis and Westlaw outside of the UK is a process that started with the launch of ICLR Online in 2011. It will enable us to position ourselves at the forefront of innovation in law reporting, whilst simultaneously ensuring that our valued publications are made available at prices that are consistent with our production costs on a non-profit basis.”
In the UK and Europe ICLR content is still available on LexisNexis and Westlaw and ICLR don’t have any immediate plans to withdraw it.
ICLR withdrew content from Justis in the UK in 2012 and overseas in 2014.