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 an important principle of a constitutional democracy. In Germany, every jurisdictional decision is made “on behalf of the people”. However, many people do not have access to these decisions or have difficulties in understanding the complex jurisdictional language. Furthermore, when people seek information on the Internet about the jurisdiction system, they are often confronted with documents from unknown origin. This often distorted information can in some cases reduce confidence in the system.
Although in most countries legal documents (legislation and jurisdictional decisions) are publicly accessible and exempt from copyright, they are often either not published online or hidden behind paywalls of commercial databases. In Germany in particular, although case law is in the public domain, the legal decisions that interpret and apply statutory law are scattered across the Internet, included in proprietary systems, and available only for exorbitant fees.
In our opinion, improving communication is a great challenge for today’s legal system. On the one hand, citizens need a user-friendly, free, and low barrier way to access legal information. On the other side, legal entities and courts need digitalization tools that ease their work and do not add another layer of complexity to it. We firmly believe that transparent jurisdiction through the consistent publication of legal documents ultimately benefits all parties involved.
With OPENLEGALDATA.IO, we have developed an open source platform available on GitHub under the MIT license. We collect laws and jurisdiction and publish them free of charge as open data. Ultimately, we want to evolve OPENLEGALDATA.IO into a movement for transparent jurisdiction as part of the open science movement. We hope that we can encourage more researchers and policymakers to work together with us on our vision. Together, we want to develop instruments that facilitate the understanding of the German legal system by not only providing the jurisdictional decisions but also the contained information in a comprehensible way.