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About the Find case law service

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About the Find Case Law service

The Find Case Law service provides public access to court judgments and tribunal decisions.

We do not provide legal advice

This service is designed to help you find court judgments or tribunal decisions. The National Archives does not provide legal advice, interpretation or support. You can find guidance and support at the following organisations:

Current coverage of courts and tribunals available on Find Case Law

As of April 2022; The National Archives receives selected Court Judgments and Tribunal Decisions for permanent preservation and publication on the Find Case Law service. Currently we receive judgments from the Privy Council, the UK Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal, The High Court, the Upper Tribunals and The Employment Appeal Tribunal. We also receive decisions from some first-tier tribunal chambers and some judgments from the family court.  Judgments given prior to 19 April 2022 have been sourced by The National Archives from a variety of different sources, including BAILII (www.bailii.org).

We share an ambition with the Ministry of Justice and the Judiciary to grow the scope of Find Case Law to become a comprehensive and authoritative repository for case law in England and Wales.

The service only contains judgments and decisions that have been handed down and made public. Ex tempore (verbal) judgments that are not routinely transcribed may not be sent to the archive, please contact the court or tribunal directly.

Date ranges for judgments and decisions available on Find Case Law

  • United Kingdom Supreme Court — 2012 to 2024
  • Privy Council — 2009 to 2024
  • Court of Appeal
    • Civil Division — 2001 to 2024
    • Criminal Division — 2003 to 2024
  • High Court (England & Wales)
    • Administrative Court — 2003 to 2024
    • Admiralty Court — 2003 to 2024
    • Chancery Division — 2003 to 2024
    • Commercial Court — 2003 to 2024
    • Family Division — 2003 to 2024
    • Intellectual Property Enterprise Court — 2013 to 2024
    • King's Bench Division — 2003 to 2024
    • Mercantile Court — 2008 to 2014
    • Patents Court — 2003 to 2024
    • Queen's Bench Division — 2003 to 2024
    • Senior Courts Costs Office — 2003 to 2024
    • Technology and Construction Court — 2003 to 2024
  • Lower Courts
    • Court of Protection — 2009 to 2024
    • Family Court — 2014 to 2024
  • Employment Appeal Tribunal — 2021 to 2024
  • Upper Tribunals
    • Administrative Appeals Chamber — 2004 to 2024
    • Immigration and Asylum Chamber — 2003 to 2024
    • Lands Chamber — 2015 to 2024
    • Tax and Chancery Chamber — 2017 to 2024
  • First-tier Tribunals
    • General Regulatory Chamber — 2019 to 2024
    • Tax Chamber — 2009 to 2024

We do not have judgments or decisions from any other tribunals or:

  • Crown courts
  • County courts
  • Magistrates' courts

We do not have any judgments or decisions from Scottish, Northern Irish or Irish courts or tribunals.

Historical judgments and decisions

Historic legal records transferred as paper records can be found on The National Archive’s main catalogue – Discovery. This allows you to search the descriptions of records. You can read more about how to search the main catalogue to find particular records in our research guides.

Open justice

Open justice is a fundamental principle at the heart of the justice system. It is part of the administration of justice and vital to the rule of law. Justice must not only be done, but it must also be seen to be done. The importance and history of open justice as part of our law can be traced back to before Magna Carta.

Therefore it is important that significant Court Judgments and Tribunal Decisions are available to the public. We publish judgments we receive from the courts and tribunals on the Find Case Law service. It is up to the court to decide whether there is a reason to withhold a judgment from publication.

Case Law as data

Access to judgments and decisions as data supports the principles of open justice by fostering transparency and promoting innovation in legal technology and legal research.

We have converted the judgments and decisions into a format that is easy for computers to analyse – XML. We use the international standard: Legal Document Markup Language (LegalDocML) to provide consistently structured information across Judgments and decisions. This includes:

  1. Neutral Citation
  2. Court / Chamber
  3. Date
  4. Case Name
  5. Party Names
  6. Judges Names

This is information is automatically marked up. Our legal editorial team checks the Neutral Citation, Court/ Chamber, Date and Case name has been correctly marked up and fixes anything they need to.

Enrichment

When we publish a judgment or decision we automatically identify and hyperlink citations to other judgments we have or to legislation. We refer to this process as enrichment.

Links to legislation will take you to the legislation as it stands today and you will need to use their ‘point in time’ feature to find the legislation as it stood at a particular date.

How to access the data and technical documentation

Licence terms apply to all data re-use. You can read more about our licences.

To retrieve the LegalDocML data for judgments, you can use the API. The Data is accessible through Atom feeds allowing you to keep track of recently published or updated judgments. You can find more details and guidelines in the OpenAPI specification, which available on the.   Case Law service GitHub Project page..

Example root feed URL:

https://caselaw.nationalarchives.gov.uk/atom.xml.

URL Structure for Judgment Data:

https://caselaw.nationalarchives.gov.uk/year/court/subdivision/id/data.xml

In most cases the Neutral citation is how we uniquely identify the judgments and decisions.

Parameters

  • order = updated: Sort by the last XML database update
  • order = date: Sort by date on the judgment
  • page = 3: Paginated response. Starting at page 1

Example workflow

  1. Poll the recently-published feed
  2. Detect a new item using the timestamps in the feed
  3. Retrieve the URI of the judgment from the id field of the item

Detecting changes

Whenever a judgment gets changed it appears in the recently published list. This includes minor updates such as when we enrich the document with hyperlinks to other legal citations as well as more significant changes such as revisions we have received from the courts.

The Judgment includes a content hash so that you can check if the text of the document has changed.

We are still actively developing the Find Case Law service based on user feedback. This includes improving the experience of how data re-users can access the data. You can provide feedback by using the feedback form which is linked to at the end of every page of the Find Case Law site.

Licencing for responsible re-use

Licencing data for re-use is an important step to protect the personal information and people mentioned in judgments and decisions. Judges decide what information is necessary to be included in a judgment on a case-by-case basis. The personal information in judgments includes the names of parties, judges and may also include potentially sensitive details depending on the case. Licencing ensures that the information within judgments is handled responsibly and legally. Those who use this information must be aware of their responsibilities and not interfere with the administration of justice.

The National Archives, in collaboration with The Ministry of Justice and the Judicial Executive Board, have worked together to design a new licensing framework for the re-use of case law as data. Licences are free but you need to apply for a licence if you are using computational analysis.

Any licence we issue will only apply to currently published versions of the judgments.

No licence we issue will be a data sharing or processing agreement for personal data.

The Crown holds rights (copyright and database rights) in Court Judgments and Tribunal Decisions.

The National Archives is licensing the information in accordance with its obligations under the Reuse of Public Sector Information Regulations 2015 (SI 2015/1415).

We will licence the information ‘as is’ and exclude all representations, warranties, obligations and liabilities in relation to the information to the maximum extent permitted by law. We will not be liable for any errors or omissions in the information. We will not be liable for any loss, injury or damage of any kind caused by its use.

In order to conduct computational analysis on these decisions you need to apply for a licence and adhere to its terms. If your application is successful you will be granted permission from The National Archives, Keeper of Public Records, to re-use the information.

Personal data

The court or tribunal that made the decision is the data controller. This means they are responsible for the publication of judgments on the Find Case Law service. The National Archives is a data processor.

The National Archives publishes selected judgments under the direction of the courts and tribunals who are acting in their judicial capacity. Therefore this activity is exempt from data protection law that would normally apply to the publication of personal data.

For the avoidance of doubt no licence we issue will be a data sharing or data processing agreement. This means that we do not grant you permission to process personal data within the judgments and decisions.

Revisions and take downs

The National Archives is not authorised to take down a published judgment unless explicitly instructed to do so by the court or tribunal. Any revisions to already published judgments must also come directly from the court. If you need to contact a specific court or tribunal you can use the GOV.UK find a court or tribunal service.

Licences

All material is available under licence. Licences are free. You need to apply for a licence to do computational analysis.

The Open justice licence

The Open Justice Licence supports the fundamental principle of open justice, allowing free use and re-use of court judgments and tribunal decisions. This is the licence that is in effect if you do not apply for a licence to do computational analysis.

Under this licence you can copy, publish and distribute the information with certain conditions such as:

  • making sure your are using the most recent version of the judgment or decision
  • following judicial restrictions on use of personal data
  • acknowledging the source
  • not implying official status or endorsement
  • avoiding misrepresentations
  • not jeopardizing the administration of justice

The licence does not cover computational analysis, non-published information, emblems of the courts and tribunals, third party rights or personal data. It comes with no warranty.

For more information you can read the full terms of the licence on the Open Justice Licence page

Licences to do computational analysis

If you intend to do any programmatic searching across the records to identify, extract or enrich contents within the records then you will need to apply for a licence.

We issue two types of licences that permit computational analysis:

1. Research and Development licence

This licence facilitates the use of computational analysis of Find Case Law records for research purposes.

2. Transactional licence

This licence facilitated the use of computational analysis of Find Case Law records in the development and delivery of services and products.

There is one application form for both licences. You can read more about how to apply for these licences here on the apply to do computational analysis page.

Review and approval process

All applications are reviewed by The National Archives Licensing team, who may ask you for more details or to submit a revised application form.

Applications are considered alongside 9 principles established by the Ministry of Justice.

The 9 principles are:

  1. Dignity of the court
  2. Independence of the court
  3. Appropriate scrutiny
  4. Anti-discriminatory harm
  5. Anti Bias
  6. Personal Privacy
  7. Discoverability
  8. Algorithmic transparency
  9. Accurate data representation

We will consider whether the purpose of your re-use is likely to jeopardise the proper administration of justice. Applications will be considered high risk if they use Computational analysis of judgments to:

  • produce fully automated legal advice; or
  • perform automation to anticipate legal decisions directly for a client or consumer, such as tools which set expectations for case outcomes through modelling or predictive analytics; or
  • otherwise directly inform or influence the decision of a third-party whether to pursue justice or legal action.

All applications got to discovery board before being approved. The Discovery board is a cross departmental board at The National Archives. The board meets every month. You can read more about the discover board on The National Archives website.

We may also consult the Ministry of Justice and the Senior Data Governance Panel for advice on whether to grant your application. They meet every 3 months. You can You can read more about the Senior Data Governance Panel on the Ministry of Justice site

The Case Law licence team may ask you for more information. We will keep a record of all applications. Part of successful applications may be published in the future.

Transferring judgments and decisions from the courts to The National Archives

The National Archives receives a publication version of the judgment or decision. This means that any redactions or anonymisation needed for publication should already have been made by the court.

The Judges and clerks send judgments and decisions to The National Archives as Word documents using a service called Transfer Digital Records (TDR). Only registered users can use this service.

If you are a judge or clerk looking for information about how to transfer digital records, please email caselaw@nationalarchives.gov.uk.

How we publish judgments and decisions

Our due diligence

The Find Case Law service has a dedicated team who review every record sent to The National Archives by the Courts and Tribunals before it is published. Once a judgment or decision has been reviewed we immediately publish it on the Find Case Law service. We do this as quickly as possible.

It may take us longer to review and publish judgments and decisions that:

  • are unusually long
  • contain reporting restrictions
  • are received after 5pm, these will be reviewed the next working morning

This team checks that the record sent by the Court or Tribunal is the version intended to be published. In the case that the judgment is subject to reporting restrictions they make an overall assessment on whether the version of the judgment supplied complies with any notice requiring anonymisation or redaction, checking whether the reporting restriction has been consistently applied throughout the body of the judgment e.g., consistent anonymisation of parties.

The National Archives does not make any changes to any of the original records sent to us. Changes to judgments and decisions can only be made by the Courts and Tribunals.

Occasionally we need to double check with the Court or Tribunal whether the version of the record that has been sent to us is the version they intended to publish. In these cases publication may take longer while we wait for confirmation from the Court or Tribunal, or for the correct version to be sent to us.

This review step means it is less likely for judgments or decisions to be published in error. If you believe there is an error within a published judgment or decision, you can flag it for review by emailing caselaw@nationalarchives.gov.uk. If necessary, we will refer it back to the court to determine the appropriate course of action.

We appreciate that speedy publication is important for many of our users. It is very unusual for judgments or decisions to take longer than two working days to be reviewed and published. If it has been more than two working days, it is more likely that we have not received the judgment or decision from the Court or Tribunal.

If you believe a judgment is missing from the service and it has been more than two working days since it was handed down you can email caselaw@nationalarchives.gov.uk.

Revisions

Over time we may receive several publication versions of the same judgment from the court. We will keep the digital record of all the versions, but only publish the latest version authorised by the court. Changes, refinements or corrections to the text of currently published judgments can only be made by the court by sending a replacement version of the judgment through the TDR service.

Take down requests

The National Archives take down and reclosure policy does not apply to judgments or decisions published on the Find Case Law Service.

Once a judgment or decision has been published, we will only withdraw it from publication (or replace it with a revised version) if we are instructed to do so by the court or tribunal.

If you believe that a judgment or decision should not be publicly available to you should contact the court or tribunal directly.

Please refer to our full publishing policy for more details Publishing policy.

How to contact us

You can get in touch by emailing caselaw@nationalarchives.gov.uk.