BarNet/JADE – Free Australian Caselaw

The arena of access to justice through freely available Australian legal resources has been served admirably for some time through the services of AustLII, a site which is well known to many IALL members. However, a new service is now available which offers superior and enhanced access to the same resources, together with a number of innovative technical and design features.

JADE (Judgments and Decisions Enhanced) is the brainchild of Michael Green, a Sydney-based barrister who channelled his frustration with the limitations of existing legal databases into creating a sleeker, faster legal research platform, one more appropriate for the demands of today’s busy practitioner and researcher. JADE seeks to address access to the plethora of online legal materials to provide accurate and streamlined information on demand. With the motto of ‘by the profession, for the profession’, JADE is designed and intended for professional use.

JADE contains the full text of more than 244,000 decisions published by Australian Courts and Tribunals. In addition, it contains citations to more than 520,000 cases, and more than 1.1 million pin-point references to this material at the paragraph, page, or section.

Where available, each decision in JADE includes a link to the original article. Accuracy, coverage, and timeliness are essential features of JADE, the aim being to provide comprehensive coverage of all decisions of all Australian Courts and Tribunals, including historic data, and all Australian legislation. Although JADE’s focus is Australian, it also provides access to UK Privy Council, House of Lords and Supreme Court judgments and WIPO UDRP decisions.

As part of its commitment to the preservation of Australia’s legal history, the JADE team also created the ‘One to 100 Project’, which entailed the archival-quality high-resolution scanning of the first 100 Commonwealth Law Reports in their entirety. When time and finances permit, similar projects will be implemented for other important report series. Details about the One to 100 project are available here.

JADE, which has pledged to remain a free service, gives users a number of innovative benefits, including the ability to receive daily email alerts to the latest decisions and to personalise the content by tagging, highlighting, annotating as required. The unique JADE citator, called CaseTrace, summarises citations made to the case or legislation as well as specific paragraphs or sections that have been cited elsewhere and also provides the most recent citation of the case or legislation.

JADE’s powerful and predictive search engine is intended to suit the need of modern professional researchers. Whilst users can still take advantage of boolean operators, the search system offers additional and extensive options based upon topic, citation, date, court and tag. Search results, as well as annotations, can be saved as Jademarks for future reference.

Annotations and the ability to share them with a group has always been part of JADE. Annotations can be as simple as the colouring of a passage or may include commentary and tags to assist with subsequent retrieval or sharing. All annotations can be output into an editable document, together with the CaseTrace information.

The recent introduction of JADE Professional (a paid subscription service to make JADE sustainable in the longer term) has given JADE subscribers a chance to upgrade to take advantage of numerous and unprecedented new features. Two key features are visualisation and uploading. The visualisation tools enable a user to view a particular case on an historical timeline and see how it relates to other cases by a process of semantic analysis. By uploading documents, such as a list of authorities, JADE’s parsing and citation system will locate cases, as well as other related cases, and suggest corrections or alternative citations if necessary.

BarNet/JADE was a recipient of a Fastcase 50 award for 2014. The Fastcase 50 highlights entrepreneurs, innovators, and trailblazers — people who have charted a new course for the delivery of legal services.

 Petal Kinder