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23 / 02 / 2017 # 02

BO-ECLI: Major Steps Forward

Important steps have been made within the BO-ECLI project. In this newsletter we give you a full update on what already has been realized and what is still in the pipeline.

In this newsletter you will find news about:
  • The state of play regarding the implementation of the European Case Law Identifier throughout Europe;
  • Our finalized report on the online access to court decisions within the Member States of the European Union;
  • Our proposal for ECLI 2.0;
  • Progress with the development of software for automated linking of court decisions;
  • The upcoming ECLI Conference
  • Other interesting news about ECLI and our project.
We hope you will enjoy reading this newsletter. All comments are most welcome.

Marc van Opijnen
Project Coordinator
Building on the European Case Law Identifier

This publication has been produced with the financial support of the Justice Programme of the European Union. The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of the authors and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Commission.

ECLI Spreads over Europe

ECLI is currently being assigned to court decisions published in public databases of twelve EU Member States: the Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Spain, France, Croatia, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria, Slovenia, Slovakia and Finland.
Also, ECLI has been assigned to all published decisions of the Court of Justice of the European Union, the European Court of Human Rights and the Boards of Appeal of the European Patent Organization.
Moreover: eight more EU Member States are currently working on the implementation of ECLI: Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia, Portugal and Romania.

For the ECLI framework as a building block for improving the cross-border access to case law, the go-live of the ECLI Search Engine in May 2016 was a major step forward. The ECLI Search Engine, developed and maintained by the European Commission, already contains more than five million decisions.

Elsewhere in this newsletter you can find more information on how BO-ECLI contributes to the implementation of ECLI and the ECLI Search Engine.

Current Implementation ECLI
Visit our interactive map on the implementation of ECLI

Report: On-line Publication of Court Decisions in the EU

One of the objectives of the BO-ECLI project is to gain insight in the actual policy and practice regarding the publication of Court Decisions within all Member States of the EU.

The comprehensive 178-page report has now been finalized and published on our website. Based on the answers supplied by Member States as well as substantial desk research, the report contains a comparison between the Member States and three European jurisdictions regarding: (1) the publication of court decisions in general (legal framework, actual publication, selection, quality of access); (2) data protection; (3) Open Data; (4) ECLI and citation practice.

Apart from topical chapters with aggregated information, the report also contains sections on each of the 31 jurisdictions individually, as well as a summary and set of recommendations.

More Connections

Within the BO-ECLI project important achievements have been made regarding the implementation of ECLI.

In September 2016, the Hellenic Council of State successfully implemented ECLI. As a result all its published decisions - nearly 70.000 - now have an ECLI assigned. All these decisions have been indexed by the ECLI Search Engine.

In January 2016, ECLI was introduced in Croatia. ECLI is assigned to a selection of more than 155.000 decisions of the High Commercial Court, the High Administrative Court, the High Misdemeanour Court and the Supreme Court. All these decisions are now indexed by the ECLI Search Engine as well.

In Italy the Constitutional Court kicked off in November 2016 with its assignment of ECLI to all its published decisions. Although not part of the BO-ECLI project, the Italian Supreme Court reached another important milestone by connecting more than one million of the decisions of this court to the ECLI ecosystem in January 2017.

The Federal Constitutional Court of Germany also assigned an ECLI to their decisions and connected them to the ECLI Search Engine. This Court is also the first to make translations of a selection of judgments available via the ECLI Search Engine. In Germany there is ongoing progress on the implementation of ECLI by other courts.

Also in the Czech Republic ECLI is being assigned to decisions of a gradually growing number of courts.

Towards ECLI 2.0

One of the reasons for the widespread use of ECLI is probably its human-readability. However, when it comes to its computer-readability, improvements can be made. For this reason, one of the objectives of BO-ECLI is to assess the current use of ECLI and its alignment with other semantic web standards. As a result, an ECLI 2.0 should be developed, fully compatible with the current version of the standard.
Workstream-3 of BO-ECLI has just delivered its: 'Analysis Report: Requirements for ECLI 2.0'. This document contains the motivations for adapting 'ECLI 1.0' and a broad outline of ECLI 2.0. 

ECLI Conference: Save the Date!

To discuss and demonstrate the interesting developments within the BO-ECLI project and to look ahead to a more distant future regarding the on-line access to court decisions, we will organize a conference:
ECLI and Beyond

Improving online access
to court decisions

The conference will be organized in Athens on 8 and 9 June 2017.

We solicit interesting contributions.

We will keep you updated via our communications channels.

Software for Linking

Legal professionals often search case law by the legal sources cited therein. E.g. they want all court decisions in which a specific European regulation or another court decision has been cited. In practice, this is quite problematic though, since the citations have a wide variety in styles, hence are not computer readable, do not have hyperlinks and are not contained in the metadata of the published documents.
As a result, such 'searches by citation' render very poor results, in national databases as well as on the ECLI Search Engine of the European e-Justice Portal. Manually creating computer readable hyperlinks is a time-consuming task; smart software can come to the rescue. Within BO-ECLI we are developing a software stack for detecting all kind of citations and turning them into standardized hyperlinks. We will cater for a common framework in which language- or jurisdiction-specific plug-ins can be applied.
The initial analysis report can be downloaded from our website.

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