Government claims moving information to National Archives site is ‘boost for open justice’
The Royal Courts of Justice in central London Credit: PA
Court and tribunal judgments from the legal system across England and Wales are to be brought together and published on the website of The National Archives.
This information is currently published in a variety of different online locations, of which the most prominent is the BAILII.org website of the British and Irish Legal Information Institute. That site will continue to publish judgment data from across the UK and the Commonwealth but, from April 2022, information on all new court and tribunal hearings throughout England and Wales will also be made available for free via The National Archives site.
In the longer term, the government hopes to bring together in this single online location all existing data from BAILII and other sources.
“As the official archive and publisher for the UK government, The National Archives was chosen because of its long-standing expertise in storing and publishing information securely,” it said.
Data published via the archive will include rulings in judicial reviews, European case law documents, commercial judgments, and “many more cases of legal significance from the High Court, Upper Tier Tribunal, and the Court of Appeal”.
The government characterised the move as a “boost for open justice” that will save time and money for those wishing to access documents. This will include “lawyers, judges, academics, journalists, students and members of the public who require them for vital case preparation or research purposes”.
Justice secretary Robert Buckland said: “Ensuring court judgments are easily accessible is central to the rule of law and the principle of open justice. Having used BAILII myself as a criminal barrister, I am extremely grateful for the work they have done over the years to make judgments available to the public. This new service will ensure they remain accessible to anyone who needs them, under safe and secure arrangements with The National Archives.”
Keeper of The National Archives Jeff James added: “Court and tribunal judgments are vital public records. As world leaders in digital archiving and legal publishing, The National Archives will ensure that judgments are safely preserved and made accessible for the centuries to come.”