This week marks the tenth anniversary of ICLR Online. As the leading supplier of law reports from England and Wales since 1865, ICLR had already digitised the majority of its full text case reports, but our publication on the internet was limited to WLR Daily case summaries and a pilot project featuring some specialist reports. Otherwise, you had to go to a third party platform to get digital versions of our case reports.
All that changed on 18 October 2011 when we launched ICLR Online with an glamorous evening reception at Middle Temple Hall, where the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge welcomed the development as an important milestone in access to the common law. We felt it was important as a charity dedicated to legal education and supporting the administration of justice to offer direct online access to our content at a modest price in accordance with our founding principles back in 1865.
Since then ICLR Online has gone through two major upgrades, and is about to have another. With each upgrade, we have been able to provide major improvements to the functionality and content on the site. Each upgrade involved a major redesign, improving the clarity, reliability and ease of use of the product.
With ICLR.4 we will be adding something even more fundamental: a completely new way of searching for English case law. It is time to meet Case Genie.
Case Genie is a revolutionary new search tool that uses Artificial Intelligence in the form of Natural Language Processing to analyse a user’s own document in order to identify the legal concepts and issues in it and then suggest cases from our database that might be relevant.
Cases are identified purely by reference to their textual content: no prior editorial classification is necessary. This means Case Genie can identify and recommend the novel or obscure cases that more conventional search methods might overlook, alongside the key authorities on a particular topic. It offers a way of finding those “unknown unknowns” that worry even the most conscientious legal researcher.
Case Genie is simple to use and completely secure. Any uploaded content is encrypted immediately, and only stored for as long as the session lasts, and then deleted. Our servers are located in the UK, so even the encrypted data does not leave the jurisdiction.
The same AI technology is used to drive the new Similar Paragraph function, which enables the user when reading a case report to find paragraphs in other cases that discuss similar cases, legislation or subject matter.
With this upgrade we’ve also introduced major improvements in our online citator, with a complete redesign of the Case Info display to include additional cases cited by or citing each case, and textbook commentary with links to and from the ebook versions of Blackstone’s Civil Practice and Blackstone’s Criminal Practice.
We’ve also adding a timeline feature to our Legislation display, enabling the user to select the relevant amended version of a statute according to the date when it came into effect.
New browsing features allow the user to find recent cases by Legal Topic and hierarchical subject matter headings, derived from the catchwords used in the consolidated indexes dating back to 1865 and now continued online. You can also browse for new content by court, as well as using conventional search forms, with or without Boolean operators and other text search techniques.
We’ve also made it simpler to subscribe, with a monthly option that you can cancel any time, or an annual option that saves money in the long run.
ICLR.4 launches on 1 November 2021.