OPENLEGALDATA.IO is a free and open platform that makes legal documents and information accessible to the public. Our goal is to enhance the transparency of the jurisdiction with the help of open data and by supporting people without legal education to understand the justice system. The project is committed to the Open Data Principles and the Free Access to Law Movement.
The rule of law is one of the most important principles of a constitutional democracy. However, as it can be seen everyday in the media, trust and confidence in the justice systems is declining. One of the great challenges in today’s legal system is to communicate effectively to the outside world that there is a big difference between subjective legal understanding and objective legal understanding. Many citizens may feel unfairly treated by the legal system, and this feeling can probably only be objectively confirmed in a few cases. With transparent jurisdiction through the consistent publication of laws and judicial decisions, simple, statistical methods convey objectivity that ultimately benefits all parties involved.
With search engines like Google and free encyclopedias like Wikipedia, the Internet has changed the way we access and consume information enormously. Today, anyone can find information on the Internet - free of charge and in fractions of a second. Modern, voice-activated virtual assistants such as Siri or Alexa further simplify our access to information by providing an immediate answer to a spoken question. All these different ways of accessing information have in common that the information comes from freely accessible, open data. However, information on the Internet on legal topics is often from secondary sources. Although in most countries the legal text is publicly accessible and exempt from copyright, legal content (legal texts and court decisions) is often either not published or hidden behind Paywalls of commercial databases. Lawyers can and must afford to pay for the content. This is often too much of an obstacle for other citizens, which ultimately prevents access. This not only concerns affected citizens who want information but also scientists and start-ups. This prevents innovation on easy access to legal issues.
The open source project OPENLEGALDATA.IO wants to change this. We collect laws and jurisdiction and publish them free of charge as open data. It is particularly important to us that the data is made accessible in machine-readable form via an API. We hope that we can use the freely accessible legal data to encourage researchers and young entrepreneurs to work with this data. Together we want to develop instruments that facilitate the understanding of the legal system. Our source code is released under MIT license on GitHub.