During its meetings in Barcelona, the Board decided that in order to encourage publication the International Journal of Legal Information, IALL should honour the author of the best article published each year with a Journal Award. The Award will be given to the best feature length article that is relevant to both the interests and the information needs of the IALL membership. The detailed award criteria, the prize for the award and the composition of the selection committee have yet to be decided, but the intention is to present the inaugural Journal Award at the 33rd Annual Course in Buenos Aires.
At the same meeting the Board decided to review the IALL Web Award. The first Web-awards were presented in October 2002. In the first year, the award was split in two categories, commercial and non-commercial, but later awards have been given to one website a year. Since 2002 the award has been presented to ten non-commercial websites. The winning sites, without exception, have expressed gratitude for the accolade and displayed the logo of the award prominently on their website.
Since the start of the Web Award, making legal information available on the Internet has gone from being an exception to the norm. There is less need for measures that encourage such publication and therefore less of a role for the IALL Web Award to play. During the last few years, developments have made it more difficult to find worthy winners.
Firstly, the number of nominations has dwindled. With fewer suggestions from the membership for sites that deserve recognition, it has been difficult to find candidates for the prize. This is not necessarily a sign of lack of interest in the Web Award, but may be because several popular and useful sites already have won.
This leads on to the second development: Highly regarded sites continue to receive nominations despite already having won the Web Award. The Award Committee has had a policy not to honour past winners again and therefore the field of potential candidates is diminished.
Thirdly there are persistent misunderstandings surrounding the award and nomination process that more information on the website seems unable to clear up. These communication problems have made the Awards Committee’s work more difficult and have probably caused frustration among potential recipients.
Because the need to promote online resources has been dramatically reduced, given the prominence these resources play in today’s legal information landscape, and the concerns mentioned above, the IALL Board decided to discontinue the Web Award. If you have any questions regarding these decisions, do not hesitate to contact me directly.