CANLII.com: prototype of the virtual law library

How would you like to search online all Canadian statutes, regulations, court decisions and other primary legal material, easily, seamlessly and at no cost? Or jump from a case cite to the full text of the decision with one click of the mouse? The "virtual law library" is not far away with creation of the Canadian Legal Information Institute (CANLII) through the Federation of Law Societies.

The vision of CANLII is to create an original web resource that will make primary legal materials available free on the Internet, accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week at no cost to lawyers or the public. The same user-friendly search engine will work for all collections on the site.

In October the Benchers of the Law Society of B.C. committed $7.40 per member to the start-up phase of CANLII, which is due to complete in the next 16 months. Other law societies are likewise expected to fund the start-up, while government and other public bodies are expected to be approached for funding in the longer term.

For a look at the project, click on canlii.com and do a sample search of several collections. The CANLII site is being developed by University of Montreal's LexUM (computer law research) team, who are well known for the online publishing and distribution of Supreme Court of Canada and other federal court tribunal decisions.

To visit a more mature virtual law library (featuring over 1.5 million searchable documents), go to the website of the Autralasian Legal Information Institute (austlii.edu.au/). The powerful SINO search software developed for this site has been thoroughly tested and has met with the satisfaction of Australian lawyers. With the permission and collaboration of AUSTLII, that software is used on the CANLII site, with a bilingual version in development.