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Online Publication of Court Decisions in Europe

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 October 2017


Although nowadays most courts publish decisions on the internet, substantial differences exist between European countries regarding such publication. These differences not only pertain to the extent with which judgments are published and anonymised, but also to their metadata, searchability and reusability. This article, written by Marc van Opijnen, Ginevra Peruginelli, Eleni Kefali and Monica Palmirani, contains a synthesis of a comprehensive comparative study on the publication of court decisions within all Member States of the European Union. Specific attention is paid on the legal and policy frameworks governing case law publication, actual practices, data protection issues, Open Data policies as well as the state of play regarding the implementation of the European Case Law Identifier.

European Union Matters
Copyright © The Author(s) 2017. Published by British and Irish Association of Law Librarians 

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1 National or transnational e-Justice projects, JUST/2014/JACC/AG/E-JU

2 M. van Opijnen, G. Peruginelli, E. Kefali, and M. Palmirani, ‘On-line Publication of Court Decisions in the EU. Report of the Policy Group of the Project ‘Building on the European Case Law Identifier’’. For this article, developments after February 2017 have been taken into account as much as possible.

3 A ranking is made in e.g.: European Commission, ‘The 2017 EU Justice Scoreboard’ (p. 22–23), but when compared with our findings, many assertions can be disputed.

4 Recommendation R(95)11 concerning the selection, processing, presentation and archiving of court decisions in legal information retrieval systems,

6 See also M. van Opijnen, ‘Towards a Global Importance Indicator for Court Decisions’ (Legal Knowledge and Information Systems – JURIX: The Twenty-Ninth Annual Conference, Nice, December 2016).

7 Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 1995 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data [1995] OJ L281/31.

8 Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 April 2016 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data, and repealing Directive 95/46/EC [2016] OJ L119/1.

9 Esayas, S.Y., ‘The role of anonymisation and pseudonymisation under the EU data privacy rules: beyond the ‘all or nothing’ approach’ (2015) 6 European Journal of Law and Technology 2 Google Scholar.

10 As highlighted in A.T. v Globe24h and Sebastien Radulescu 2017 FC 114.

11 Directive 2003/98/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 November 2003 on the re-use of public sector information [2003] OJ L345/90, amended by Directive 2013/37/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 amending Directive 2003/98/EC on the re-use of public sector information [2013] OJ L175/1.

12 Expert group on Open Data of the Working Party on e-Law (e-Justice), ‘Report of Expert Group on Open Data’ 11786/1/15.

13, at the time of writing this dataset was not yet recorded.

14 Magrath, P., ‘Judgments as Public Information’ (2015) 15 Legal Information Management 3 Google Scholar.

15 Council conclusions inviting the introduction of the European Case Law Identifier (ECLI) and a minimum set of uniform metadata for case law (2010) OJ C127/1.

17 This portal, intended as a one-stop-shop for legal information from the EU and Member States for and cross-border legal proceedings, was decided upon in the Multi-Annual European e-Justice Action Plan 2009–2013 (2009) OJ C75/1.

19 Bundesverwaltungsgericht ‘Richtlinien für die Zitierweise und die Verwendung von Abkürzungen in den Entscheidungen des Bundesverwaltungsgerichts‘ (2014).

20 Guo, W.J., From Case to Law. A study on how cases fulfil the role of source of law in the Netherlands and its implications for China and comparative law (University of Amsterdam 2014)Google Scholar.

21 Bastiaans, M.H. a.o., Leidraad voor juridische auteurs 2016 (Wolters Kluwer 2016).Google Scholar