The state of African Legal Information Institutes

How free access to law online is shaping justice in sub-Saharan Africa


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Rebecca Rumbul, Gemma Moulder, Alex Parsons


If you wanted to find out what a specific law covered, how would you do it? Google what you thought the law was and hope that it came up in an internet search? Go to the local public library and look for law books? Ask a friend? In many cases around the world, especially in developing countries, it is almost impossible to get access to the law through these channels. Many sub-Saharan African countries do not routinely publish their legislation online, and fewer still publish the case-law judgments made by the courts.

As a financial supporter of a number of African LIIs since 2013, the Indigo Trust, a UK-based philanthropic foundation, commissioned a report to examine the impacts of the LIIs, and whether those impacts could reasonably be amplified with greater investment.

The research identified clear, positive impacts resulting from the existence and use of the LIIs, most notably in South Africa, where the LII proved to be a key tool in increasing access to the legal profession for economically disadvantaged groups. Across the countries studied, the LIIs were also benefiting the development of high quality domestic case law, which had been underdeveloped prior to digitisation; and were considered to be useful tools for citizens in developing a more meaningful understanding of the law.


Contents

  1. Executive summary
  2. Introduction
  3. Problem Statement
  4. Research Methods
  5. Literature review
  6. AfricanLII
  7. Case studies
  8. Ghana
    1. GHALII: users and demographics
    2. Management and finance
    3. Information access
    4. GHALII visibility
    5. Competitors and cultural barriers
    6. Impacts of GHALII
    7. Future improvements and ambitions
    8. Political support
  9. South Africa
    1. SAFLII user demographics
    2. Management and finance
    3. Information access
    4. Visibility
    5. Competition and culture
    6. Impacts of SAFLII
    7. Future improvements or ambitions
    8. Political support
  10. Uganda
    1. ULII users and demographics
    2. Management and finance
    3. Information access
    4. Visibility
    5. Competition and culture
    6. Impacts of ULII
    7. Future improvements and ambitions
    8. Political support
  11. African LII surveys
    1. Site users
    2. Gender
    3. Age
    4. Location
    5. Sector
    6. Employment
    7. Profession
    8. Internet reliability
    9. Offline/printing
    10. Usefulness of LII by country and profession
  12. Thematic findings
    1. User groups
    2. Connectivity landscape
    3. Domestic legal environment
    4. Management structure and resources
    5. Political will
    6. Educational environment
    7. Competitors to the LIIs
  13. Room for improvement
    1. User suggestions
    2. Report suggestions
  14. Critical success factors
  15. Recommendations
  16. Further research
  17. Conclusions
  18. References
  19. Acknowledgements

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Cite this

Rumbul, R., Moulder, G. and Parsons, A. (2019). The state of African Legal Information Institutes. [online] mySociety Research. Available at: http://research.mysociety.org/publications/state-african-legal-information-institutes [Accessed 11 Dec 2019].