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Open Data for Case Law: A Digital Republic for Predictable and Attractive Legal Rules

Dahmani, Maher and Vermeille, Sophie, Open Data for Case Law: A Digital Republic for Predictable and Attractive Legal Rules (September 13, 2017). Available at SSRN:

“The “Lemaire Act” for a Digital Republic, dated October 7, 2016, establishes two new default principles with respect to government data and public court opinions – with the enactment of the Lemaire Act this information will now by default be made public in France. The creation of this “open data” case-law database still requires the adoption of implementing decrees by the regulatory power (i.e. the Ministry of Justice). To that end, the Minister of Justice has entrusted Professor Loïc CADIET with the task to conduct a study to enlighten the drafters of the implementing decrees. Currently, there are concerns that the ambition of the reform will be revised down for budgetary reasons and due to a potential breach of data protection regulations. In this context, Rules for Growth wants to contribute to the general reflection, assisting the study in the elaboration of the implementing decrees. Without ignoring the fears raised, we want to insist on the expected benefits of this reform, which we believe have been insufficiently brought to the attention of the public authorities. Among these benefits, the deployment of open data for court decisions produces economic returns, improves the transparency of the judiciary as well as strengthens the rule of law. For this reason, it is particularly necessary to seek an adequate balance between the full openness of all court decisions and the protection of litigants’ personal data. We also argue that although the principle of open case-law implies a significant investment by the State in the context of a difficult budgetary situation, it will, however, generate positive effects in the legal and economic spheres. These externalities must be to put in perspective with the immediate costs of this reform.”

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