Articles filed under Government

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.

There are many different facets to an Orwellian dystopian society (in which, some may argue, we already live) where privacy no longer exists and Big Brother is watching everyone. Some of the culprits are data mining and tracking used by the tech giants for profiling internet denizens in order to realise lucrative profits from highly targeted advertising which we covered in the July issue of the Newsletter.

But although the erosion of privacy by big business is a major concern – especially in light of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and allegations of Russian interference in elections – the most acute fears have traditionally centred on government surveillance. So what are the main pieces of legislation in the UK which relate to government surveillance?

Employment tribunal judgments are now available online on GOV.UK at

Previously, in order to read a first instance judgment, you had to hope that one of the parties published it or that the judiciary website considered it to be of sufficient importance to publish or to take a trip to the central register and locate it in person.

The Government has been transitioning its published web data to the GOV.UK platform over the last few years. Since the move of departmental websites over to GOV.UK, which completed in December 2014, documents and information have become increasingly hard to find. Collections of information on certain topics that previously could be browsed on departmental websites have mostly disappeared and the emphasis seems to be on the user to use the search function. Information also went missing in the transition, with decisions made not to move certain documents to GOV.UK, allowing them to be found and accessed only via the UK Government Web Archive. Yet the search functionality of GOV.UK is not particularly sophisticated, with minimal filtering options (the only current filter is “by department”) and you’ll need to navigate through the Archive to re-find information you may have bookmarked previously.

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This month: Where has all the GOV stuff gone? is on borrowed time. The intention is to move all information on that site and many other justice system websites to GOV.UK. and those other websites will ultimately disappear. Much has moved already.

As such, it is important to get to grips with GOV.UK. This article describes its structure and features with reference to the justice information and services that are or will soon be available there.

Content has recently started migrating away from the Justice website. We’d just got used to the new Justice portal when GOV.UK came along promising to be the new single domain for government information (see the March issue).

A new home on GOV.UK

According to the Justice home page, “Ministry of Justice corporate content has moved to the new single website for government GOV.UK.” But what does this mean?

Welcome to GOV.UKIf you’ve recently used any government service online you will probably have been directed to GOV.UK. On 17 October 2012 it replaced Directgov and BusinessLink as the place to go for government services. And on 15 November the first government departmental and agency websites started their migration to the Inside Government section of GOV.UK. As of 4 March, 13 of 24 government departments and 30 of 300+ agencies and other public sector bodies have migrated; all departments are due to have moved by April 2013 and (with exceptions) all other public bodies by April 2014.

The Justice site is an honourable attempt to provide information on the legal system for the many types of viewers who visit it ”” including the professional user.

On 1 April 2011 the Justice site ( was born. This is not the Ministry of Justice site by another name but the beginnings of a “super-site” that will act as a portal to all services within the justice system for the professional user.

The Family Procedure Rules 2010 came into effect on 6 April 2011. The new Rules attempt to provide a single set of rules for all family proceedings in all levels of court, thereby replacing a large body of unconsolidated rules, practice directions, guidance and forms. At the same time, the Rules aim to modernise many aspects of family procedure and, where possible, harmonise with the Civil Procedure Rules.

Following my article on the new claims process in the last issue), I caught up with Dominic Corr, our IT director, to find out what progress had been made.