CommonLII Commonwealth Legal Information Institute

A very large legal information website offering free access to Commonwealth and common law on the internet. The service currently contains over 500 databases from 52 commonwealth and common law countries and territories. The ethos behind Commonlii springs from the 2002 Declaration on Free Access to Law, made at a meeting of legal information institutes from around the world in 2002.

Databases of case law, legislation, and, in some instances, law reform documents and journals, are available for over fifty jurisdictions. For those jurisdictions, which do not yet offer any legal databases on the internet for free, catalogue entries are available which offer brief guides and links to country resources.

The service aims:

To make Commonwealth and common law available free to anyone on the internet
To provide technical help and a common platform for publishing legal information on the web
To promote transparency and the rule of law

The Australasian Legal Information Institute (AUSTLII) has taken the lead for the development and maintenance of Commonlii.

Data

The amount of information available for any one jurisdiction depends on what has been published free for that jurisdiction, e.g. via legal information institutes or parliaments or courts or other sources. For some jurisdictions, there is a lot, e.g. India, Canada, Australia, UK, Ireland, etc. For others, smaller databases are as yet available, e.g. Pakistan, Tanzania, Seychelles.

The core legal information consists of primary material: legislation and case reports. For some jurisdictions, law reform material, e.g. law commission papers, are also available. Some legal journals are also available.

Searching

Simple search: you can search by word or phrase across the entire content of the service.

Advanced Search: you can choose to search all words, any words, by phrase, by legislation or document title, or using Boolean operators. There is a choice of searching across the entire content of Commonlii, or restricting the search to legislation, case law, legal journals, or law reform material.

Autosearch: allowing the software to interpret the search for you.

Browsing

You can browse by newly added database, or by jurisdiction. You can browse by regions, Commonwealth countries, external territories and dependencies, or common law. Flags are presented as icons to help identify different jurisdictions. Links are available to the websites of different stakeholders in the service.