When citizens seek information on the Internet about the jurisdiction system, they are often confronted with documents from unknown origin. 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. In other countries, such as Finland and the USA, there are initiatives providing such open data. In order to build a similar transparent open data platform for German law, several challenges need to be addressed.