Looking for Bailii Streisand

Updated 3 (august 2015): Bailii did an audit
Updated 2: Followup blogpost
Updated: Bailli have responded in the comments

The origin of the Streisand Effect. Copyright (C) 2002 Kenneth & Gabrielle Adelman, California Coastal Records Project, www.californiacoastline.org.When UK courts pass judgement, many of the higher courts send a copy of their written judgement to a service called Bailii (@bailii) as soon as they are published, to go on the web.

Unless the cases get deleted.

I’m sure there is a justifiable reason for case “Birmingham City Council v LB [2014] EWHC 981 (Fam) (21 March 2013)” to have disappeared from their archive. But how many others do? How widespread is that problem? Was the takedown requested by the court, or was it one of the parties without any form of judicial oversight?

We don’t know, because Bailii take cases down silently, without notification, and since they put many blocks on access, there is no other way for you to find out what is being deleted from judicial memory. And that sounds like something the Streisand Effect can do something about, since Bailii probably wont change their practices.

BailiiStreisand sets out to simply show which cases have disappeared.

Bailii’s rules prevent us from serving a copy of the judgement, and there may be a very good reason why a particular family court judgement shouldn’t be on the internet, but we can say what was missing, and allow others to do the research, as Bailii will not.

It’s a completely free, non-commercial service (follow us on twitter), and the UK has some new text-mining exemptions which allow non-commercial research projects on corpuses of text, such as publicly funded legal judgements.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens.

Hopefully, Bailii will improve; but in the interim you can ask them on twitter why they silently delete things.


Update: paragraph 8/9 of this case confirms that it is not necessarily a Judge led process. So who decides when bailii cases come down, and where is the transparency? I appreciate that Bailii do not have the resources to make decisions, but if they have the resources to manually take a case down, they can make a log of that decision in a public register. Fixing Bailii will not happen in a single step.

Apr 2014
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