Archive for August 2010
Since late July we have a shiny new official home of UK legislation at legislation.gov.uk which replaces the two current services at OPSI.gov.uk/legislation and statutelaw.gov.uk. Some functionality currently available on SLD is not yet available on legislation.gov.uk, including full content search, geographical extent and point in time advanced search options. This functionality will be added in a series of releases and once all features of the new service have been implemented the two predecessor sites will be withdrawn. Already OPSI legislation URLs are being redirected to the equivalent legislation.gov.uk resources.
legislation.gov.uk combines and integrates:
- the “as enacted” versions of legislation from OPSI, immediately on enactment
- the revised versions of legislation from the SLD, as and when available, complete with all versioning and annotation information
- the tables of effects data maintained by the SLD, linking past legislative provisions to relevant amending provisions
- the explanatory notes, integrated with the relevant legislative provisions
The interface provides simple and direct browse access to legislation by type, year and number and simple or advanced searches to locate matching legislation. The point-in-time features are not yet fully implemented, but just tag a date on to the end of a URL in the form /yyyy-mm-dd for a point in time view.
Any piece of legislation or legislation fragment can be addressed reliably and simply via the URI scheme and any list of legislation can be delivered as an Atom feed.
The service is delivered by the the National Archives (of which OPSI is part) with John Sheridan, Head of e-Services and Strategy at the helm. John describes the development in an article on VoxPopuLII from the Cornell LII.
We had two objectives with legislation.gov.uk: to deliver a high quality public service for people who need to consult, cite, and use legislation on the Web; and to expose the UK’s Statute Book as data, for people to take, use, and re-use for whatever purpose or application they wish.
There’s more about the technical project and the people behind it from Jeni Tennison, technical lead and main developer (at TSO).
With the new service up and running we can now more reliably and precisely tap into and leverage legislation resources using its API.
Congratulations to John, Jeni and team and thanks and for their support and encouragement for FreeLegalWeb.
You may be aware that a couple of weeks ago FindLaw UK launched. FindLaw is a Thomson Reuters Business and we could thus dismiss it out of hand as a cynically commercial site; but it has been competently and professionally put together.
FindLaw professes to help “consumers” understand the law:
Looking for legal information? In legal trouble? Learn About the Law is your starting place for help understanding the law. An online resource for up-to-date legal information about common topics such as will preparation, divorce and “no win, no fee”; and specific legal issues related to child custody and redundancy.
However, most of their articles are straight copies from direct.gov or other public sector websites, giving fairly basic advice on “life events”. And while there’s some value in the selection and presentation of these articles, they don’t go very far in helping one understand the law.
The FindLaw “Solicitor” blog is competently written legal news and the forum elicits sensible answers from the FindLaw team.
But ultimately FindLaw UK is designed to churn out “good” content which will be well regarded by Google, attracting punters who won’t find answers on the site but many of whom will ultimately use the Contact Law (or other) service on the site thus earning FindLaw commissions.
I’m uninspired but I think we can learn something from what they present to their particular market niche. What do you think?