Free Access to Law in Canada


Free Access to Law in Canada
Author: Daniel Poulin

Abstract: Today, the level of access to legal information in Canada equals or surpasses that of any country. Not only do several commercial publishers compete to sell their publications but, in recent years, legislatures, many courts and tribunals have built significant repositories on the web. However, the most spectacular advance has come through the creation of CanLII.

In this paper, the author looks at why and how the Free Access to Law approach (FAL) came about in Canada. He sketches the principles supporting free access, but he tries also to make the business case for establishing it.

Initial Development of Free Access to Law in Canada In Canada, as in many other countries, free access to law started in a university, however what distinguishes the development of FAL in Canada is that at some point legal professions got involved, and this ultimately led to the creation of CanLII. The origin and beginnings of CanLII are worth knowing to see how legal professionals were brought to work with academics to meet their own information needs and how, ultimately, that cooperation made law more accessible for everybody.

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