What was the law then?

AustLII (the Australasian Legal Information Institute) has just released a new facility called the Point-in-time Legislation Project. It allows users instantly to view legislation at any given historical date. You simply select the desired date in relation to any law and it is displayed incorporating all amendments as at that time but excluding subsequent ones.

Some analogous services exist, but they’re subscription-based and therefore inaccessible to most people. There are lots of reasons why non-legal professionals may need this sort of ready access to the law as at a historical date. One can imagine that there would be numerous situations where a historian or political scientist would need it, and the increasing proliferation of self-represented litigants in our court system can ony be assisted by access to research tools that allow them to present their case more effectively and so have a better chance of getting justice against wealthy and lawyered-up opponents.

Accessibiity of the law to all citizens is an important aspect of any democracy, and AustLII’s efforts are certainly enhancing Australian democracy in that respect. At present the Point-in-time Legislation Project only offers complete coverage of NSW legislation, with partial coverage of South Australia and Queensland, but they intend progressively extending it to all Australian jurisdictions.

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
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2024 years ago

Wow! Never know when it might come in handy.

Thanks Ken

2024 years ago

This is fantastic!

Comlaw does that to a certain extent with legislation, but doesn’t go back a long way.

And I completely agree about the accessibility of law being fundamental to democracy. It costs a bit, but is worth it completely. It’s about time projects like this were better funded I think…