Is there a funding crunch at Austlii?
When the history of public access to legal information comes to be written, high honours must be given to Graham Greenleaf, Andrew Mowbray and Philip Chung, whose vision has inspired Canlii and Bailii too.
But the latest Annual Report shows that while AustLII’s funding position has improved steadily during 2007, to the extent that it is certain that AustLII will continue to operate in 2008 and beyond, the position has not yet improved sufficiently to enable employment of all core staff needed, or to guarantee equipment maintenance and replacement. The shortfall may be A$400,000.
One Australian legal ethics discussion forum cited some startling figures:
Federal government departments make over 5 million accesses a month but are paying nothing for development of their resources.
The High Court (their equivalent to the Canadian Supreme Court) is making a token contribution of up to $10,000, for more than 2 million accesses a year.
Of the 110 Courts and Tribunals whose decisions AustLII publishes, only 18 currently make any financial contribution.
The Supreme Courts of NSW and Victoria between them make more than 300,000 accesses a month but pay nothing.
No Australian businesses pay anything, although, for example, one large accounting firm is making 17,000 accesses a month.
Canlii is fortunate to have engaged the attention and the funding of the Federation of Law Societies.
It reminded the Blogger of the lessons Levitt learned from stolen bagels