High Court judge Justice Michael Kirby has launched Australia's first internet-based system offering free access to citations of Australian law.

Law Cite includes citations of Australian law and those of other countries whose case data is available through the Free Access to Law Movement. It includes numerous citations of Australian cases by overseas courts.

The database was developed by the Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII), a joint initiative of the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), and the University of New South Wales.

Launching LawCite at AustLII, Justice Kirby said free public access to the law and legal materials was crucial.

"With this development, AustLII has made law so accessible that it is now at the fingertips of every Australian who can access the internet," he said.

"It is yet another example of increasing legal accessibility."

Justice Kirby also announced the launch on CommLII of English reports dating from 1220 to 1873.

"These are essentially the foundations of the Common Law in all the countries that share their roots in the English legal system, and as such are a worthy addition to the legal database," he said.

"I welcome the collaboration between the University of Technology, Sydney and the University of New South Wales, and I look forward to further breakthroughs in legal accessibility."

LawCite developer and AustLII co-director, Professor Andrew Mowbray from UTS, says LawCite is another free tool that will further benefit all AustLII users.

"Over 600,000 pages of information held by AustLII are accessed everyday by users in the legal profession, educational institutes, government, businesses and the general public," he says.

"There are currently citations for over two million cases held by LawCite and we expect this to continue to grow."

AustLII co-director, UNSW's Graham Greenleaf, says the citator is constructed by purely automated means, by the extraction of citation information from the content of AustLII and from other legal information institute data available through the cooperation of the Free Access to Law Movement.

"It therefore includes numerous citations of Australian cases by overseas courts," he says.

"LawCite data will be available to other LIIs to republish on their systems if they wish to."

Professor Greenleaf says Lawcite does not include editorial judgments of whether a case was distinguished or reversed by subsequent cases. It concentrates on demonstrating the patterns of case citation, and also provides parallel citations for cases.

LawCite was developed with funding from an ARC Linkage grant.

Media Contact: Steve Offner | 02 9385 8107 | s.offner@unsw.edu.au