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Features - Online Legal Information in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden

By Suzanne Thorpe, Published on April 15, 2001

Suzanne Thorpe, Associate Director for Faculty, Research, and Instructional Services, University of Minnesota Law Library. J.D., University of Minnesota Law School, M.A. (Library Science), University of Wisconsin - Madison, B.A. (Scandinavian Studies), University of Wisconsin - Madison. My thanks to Joan Howland, Roger F. Noreen Professor of Law and Director of the Law Library and Technology/Computerization Program, University of Minnesota Law School, for granting me the Caroline Brede Scholarship which enabled me to conduct research in Scandinavia. Pål Bertnes, Chief Librarian, University of Oslo Law Library, Kari Gyllander, Adviser, Lovdata, Ingrid Kabir, Head of the Law Section, University of Stockholm Library, Julie Sanders, formerly Librarian University of Copenhagen Legal Institute Library, and Marianne Öberg, Librarian, University of Uppsala Law Library deserve special thanks for sharing their expertise and time with me. Tack så mycket!

Editor's Note:  Updated information appears in yellow highlighted text.

Contents

Introduction
Denmark
Background
Legal Databases
Guides to Online Legal Information
Norway
Background
Legal Databases
Guides to Online Legal Information
Sweden
Background
Legal Databases
Guides to Online Legal Information
Conclusion
Appendices

Introduction

Denmark, Norway, and Sweden are among the most technologically advanced countries in the world.(1) It is not surprising, therefore, to find sophisticated online systems offering extensive access to legal information in each country. This article briefly traces the development of online legal information in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. In addition, it provides a country by country overview of the legal databases and online guides to electronic legal resources that are currently available. Most of the databases discussed can be accessed, wholly or in part, without charge via the Internet. A few are restricted to paid subscribers or are available only on CD-ROM.

It should be noted that, while Denmark and Sweden are members of the European Union, this article does not cover the databases in either country specifically devoted to European Union law.

Appendices at the end of the article contain separate tables listing the major legislative history, statutory, administrative, and case law sources for each country.(2) The tables identify the Internet databases that provide access to a particular legal source. Dates of coverage and URLs are given for each of the databases. Asterisks next to the databases denote fee based databases. These often provide some information free of charge and can be useful to non-subscribers. It is hoped that these appendices will serve as a quick guide to finding specific legal information.

To aid individuals who may be unfamiliar with Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish, translations of important names and legal terms are provided. Unless otherwise noted, translations are the author's.

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Denmark

Background

The government of Denmark began investigating electronic data processing of legal information in the 1970s. It was primarily interested in improving access the current law in force. At the time, two gazettes served as the only major means of access to legal sources. New laws [love], treaties [traktater], and regulations [bekendtgørelser] binding on citizens are required to be published in the Law Gazette of the Kingdom of Denmark [Lovtidende] in order to enter into force.(3) The Ministerial Gazette [Ministerialtidende] contains circulars [cirkulærer], statements [skrivelser], and guidances [vejledninger] pertaining to the internal operation of the ministries. By the 1970s, new texts had been added to both gazettes for approximately 100 years. The sheer number of legal texts had become unwieldy and there was no efficient means to identify which texts were still in force. It was also difficult to find laws and regulations covering a specific issue.

Several studies were conducted to examine these problems. In 1975, the Ministry of Justice [Justitsministeriet] issued a report recommending that electronic means be used to create an index of laws and regulations.(4) Following this report, in 1977, the government established a contract with the Schultz publishing house, printer of the legal gazettes, to create the Danish Text Archive [Statens Tekstarkiv], an archival database containing the texts in the gazettes. It would be maintained by Data Central [Datacentralen], the data processing bureau for national and local authorities in Denmark. In 1979, the Danish Social Science Research Council [Statens Samfundsvidenskabelige Forskningsråd] completed a four year study on utilizing data processing to enhance the current system for obtaining legal information. This council issued four reports that recommended establishing a government agency to develop a searchable legal database to be used for producing publications.(5) A working group of the Division of Public Management [Administrationsdepartementet] in the Ministry of Finance recommended in 1980 that the government should establish a pilot database to improve the exchange of legal and administrative information.

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Legal Databases

First Government Legal Database: DC-JURA

Following this recommendation, Data Central began developing a pilot database in cooperation with the Directorate of Inland Revenue [Statsskattedirektoratet]. This database, DC-JURA, became available on a fee basis to government and private users in 1982. It contained full texts of proposed legislation, Parliamentary documents, laws and regulations in force, plus information, administrative decisions, selected court orders from the National Tax Tribunal [Landsskatteretten] and other cases related to tax matters. Law commentaries and an index of periodical articles and cases offered by a private firm, Skattekartoteket, were also included. A search engine permitted key word searches in the full texts.

Around the time that DC-JURA was being developed, another working group of the Ministry of Justice and Division of Public Management in the Ministry of Finance issued a report noting the advantages of utilizing electronic legal information.(6) This group recommended establishing a government agency to investigate and coordinate the technical production of a searchable legal database. The agency, the Legal Information Council [Retsinformationsrådet], came into being in 1982. The Council's original charge was:

  • to generally consider arrangements with a view to improving legal information systems in society
  • to coordinate government authorities' plans for establishing and using databases
  • to consider the problems that must be solved in connection with utilizing the new techniques in ongoing and future testing
  • to put forward proposals for preparing and using one or more databases.(7)

First Private Legal Database: Data Lex

As the council pursued this charge, the Schultz publishing house unveiled a new database, Data Lex, in 1982. Data Lex was a general fee based legal database containing laws and regulations extracted from an internal database used by the publisher to produce the legal gazettes. Data Lex users were able to do limited searching on index terms and titles of laws and regulations.

In 1983, the Division of Public Management in the Ministry of Finance directed the Legal Information Council to investigate the technical, economical, and legal issues connected with the creation of a national legal database.(8) The council was asked to report within a year on its findings. After studying the existing legal information system, the use of data processing for legal information in Denmark and abroad, and the legal and technical aspects of a likely legal database, the council issued a major report in February 1984.(9) In this report the council recommended that:

  • the database should be created through government initiative
  • it should be general (covering all subject matter)
  • it should contain primarily laws, regulations, and circulars
  • the work on it should be a cooperative effort between the data processing bureau, issuing authorities, and other information providers.(10)

The council also laid out a timeline for developing the legal database. During the first phase, a number of separate databases containing the full texts of general laws and regulations currently in force and important circulars were to be created. These legal texts would be annotated, indexed, and marked up for eventual publication. Some legislative preparatory works [forarbejder] would also be included. The texts were to be continually updated and notes citing to amending and superseded laws and regulations were to be included. An archival database containing superseded laws and regulations was also to be established. The council estimated that it would take three to five years to complete the first phase. Following this phase, databases containing administrative decisions [administrative afgørelser], court decisions [domme], and secondary sources would be added.

Each ministry was expected to develop a systematic index of laws and regulations in its area of authority and to prepare summaries of these laws and regulations. Interestingly, private providers of legal information could also add information to the databases and it was envisioned that DC-JURA and Data Lex would become part of the new system. The ministries and other information providers would own their data and receive payment for supplying it. Printed works generated from the database could be sold. The council requested that a common search engine be developed to permit key word searches across all of the separate databases. The report recommended establishing a secretariat to plan, standardize, and coordinate the development and operation of the database with the data processing bureau and the ministries who supplied the information.

Government Legal Database: Retsinformation

The government approved this report and, in 1985, work began on Retsinformation [Legal Information], as the system became known. The Secretariat for Legal Information [Sekretariat for Retsinformation], consisting of a director and five staff members, was established at the same time. This body set policies for the ministries describing the type of materials to include in their different databases, selection criteria, and how to establish indexes and summaries of laws and regulations in force. Each ministry appointed a contact person with responsibility for coordinating the process with the Secretariat. The first databases in Retsinformation were opened to the public in 1986. At this time, the databases from DC-JURA and Data Lex were incorporated into Retsinformation.

Within a few years, each ministry established a database of the laws currently in force within its sphere of authority and has continued to maintain the database over time. New laws are continually added to Retsinformation, the same day they are added to the Law Gazette. The ministries incorporate amending laws into the text of existing laws to create consolidated laws [lovbekendtgørelser]. These electronic consolidations provide convenient access to current laws about a given subject. However, the enactments [hovedlove] originally published in the Law Gazette remain the only authoritative law texts.(11) Retsinformation also provides the texts of these enactments. As part of the consolidation process, the ministries also remove superseded laws to an archival database.

In addition to its databases of current and superseded laws, each ministry established a database containing current regulations within its area of authority. Many regulations not previously published in the Ministerial Gazette were included. The ministries have continued to keep their regulation databases up to date. New regulations are added to Retsinformation within a day after they are issued, but they are not consolidated into the texts of old regulations. Superseded regulations are removed to an archival database.

The ministries have also created databases containing current circulars and ministerial pronouncements that they maintain and update. Superseded circulars and pronouncements are placed in an archival database similar to the ones for laws and regulations. Some ministries maintain databases for treaties and other international agreements and legislative proposals in their areas of authority. In addition, the Danish Parliament [Folketinget] has added databases to Retsinformation that contain proposed bills and resolutions, reports, debates, and the text of the Official Report of Parliamentary Proceedings [Folketingstidende].

Retsinformation was envisioned by the Legal Information Council to eventually contain administrative decisions and court decisions. In 1988, the council issued a report describing how this should be carried out.(12) It recommended inclusion of important administrative decisions selected by the ministries. These decisions have begun to be added to Retsinformation. The council report also recommended including the full text of all new Supreme Court [Højesteret] cases, selected cases from the Courts of Appeals [Landsretter], Maritime Court [Søretten], and Commercial Court [Handelsretten] and criminal cases from the Municipal Court [Byretten]. The courts were to be responsible for selecting the cases to include and for adding a summary headnote [hoved] to each case. In addition, Retsinformation would contain the full text of older cases that had been published through 1977 in the Danish Weekly Case Law Report [Ugeskrift for retsvæsen], summaries of criminal cases covering 1953-1973, and a retrospective subject index of court decisions covering 1917-1976. As recently as 1998, a working group appointed by the Ministry of Justice concurred with the recommendations of the 1988 study.(13) This group recommended inclusion of the full text of cases without the addition of headnotes, but suggested adding subject headings similar to the ones used in the Danish Weekly Case Law Report.

Despite these recommendations, court cases have not yet appeared in Retsinformation. Danish law has prohibited names and other personal information about individuals from being published.(14) In compliance with this, the council recommended in its 1988 report that personal names not be searchable in Retsinformation.(15) That same year, the Ministry of Justice directed the administrative and judicial courts to remove personal names, addresses, and other identifying information from their decisions, thereby making them anonymous.(16) It is time consuming and costly to prepare abstracts of cases and to remove personal information from cases. In order to recover some of the costs involved, the government is currently studying the possibility of launching case databases on Retsinformation as a fee based service.

Initially, all databases in Retsinformation were restricted to fee paying subscribers. In 1997, the Danish government decided that Retsinformation should be available free of charge via the Internet.(17) This decision coincided with the government's 1997 information technology action plan which stated "the public must be guaranteed the easiest possible access to its country's laws and regulations. To that end the administration is moving to make the government's electronic database, the Legal Information, freely available on the Internet from 1998 on."(18) Since 1998, Retsinformation has been offered through a Web site at http://www.retsinfo.dk/. In addition to its original content, the current Web version contains the text of the Ministerial Gazette.

The Retsinformation Web site provides access to the subject and chronological indexes of the Law Gazette and the Ministerial Gazette. From these indexes, it is possible to link to the full text of the gazettes. Under the heading "Ministerieindgang," [Ministry entrance] the site provides links to ministry pages. Each ministry page has a folder for the enactments that are currently in force in its area of authority. For every enactment, there are links to the texts of consolidated laws, regulations, administrative decisions, circulars, and other documents related to it. The ministry pages also have a folder for the proposed bills that each ministry currently has pending before the Parliament. This folder provides links to summaries of the bills. From the summaries, it is possible to find the full text of the bill and all of the Parliamentary documents that relate to it. An icon on the home page labeled "Danske love" [Danish laws] provides both a chronological and reverse chronological list of links to acts and consolidated laws that are in force. For each law, there are links to regulations, decisions, and other documents related to it.

Retsinformation permits searches across all types of documents, but also allows users to limit searches to specific categories of documents: "Regler" [laws, regulations, circulars, guidances, and treaties], "Afgørelser" [administrative decisions], "Folketingets forhandlinger" [Parliamentary documents], "Lov-og beslutningsforslag" [proposed laws and resolutions], and "Skatteministeriets store vejledninger" [guidances from the Ministry of Taxation]. A search template permits searches across all fields or in one or more specific fields (e.g., document type, document number, date issued, popular title). Another search template permits free text searches of full texts. It is possible to request a list of subjects for one or more ministries and then link to documents under each subject.

Parliament Web Site: Folketinget

The Danish Parliament [Folketinget] maintains a Web site at http://www.folketinget.dk/. This site includes a "Leksikon" [dictionary] of Parliamentary terms, "bestil" [order] and "direkte TV" access to proceedings. Under the heading "Om," information about the work of the Parliament, political parties, members of Parliament, and floor and committee schedules can be found. Some of this information is available in English. Under the heading "Nyt," information on actions from the past fourteen days, including some documents, is available. The full texts of bills and resolutions introduced during the current session of Parliament and documents related to each are available under "Dok." These documents include committee reports [udvalgbetænkninger], transcripts of Parliamentary meetings ["møder i folketingssalen"] and various communications with the ministries. Once a document is opened, links to earlier or later Parliamentary proceedings related to it are provided. The site is organized by Parliamentary session. Information from non current sessions is located in an archive. A search form allows users to enter key words and run searches across all Parliamentary sessions or in a specific session. Searches can be limited to specific types documents (e.g., proposed bills and resolutions) or specific topics (e.g., the Parliament and its work). It is also possible to search by date and to sort results by Parliamentary session.

AdvokatNet

The AdvokatNet database at http://www.advokatnet.dk/ is available only to members of the Lawyers' Service Society [Advokaternes Serviceselskab]. It provides access to a number of topical CD-ROM publications that contain laws, regulations, ministerial publications, and to the cases found in the Danish Weekly Case Law Report.

Arbejdsdirektoratet

The National Directorate of Labour [Arbejdsdirektoratet] website at http://www.adir.dk/ provides links to laws, regulations, and ministerial publications.

Forlaget Thomson

The publishing house, Thomson, at http://www.thomson.dk provides fee paying subscribers with online access to the Danish Weekly Case Law Report and the UfR nyhedsservice, a service that provides abstracts of Supreme Court cases from the latest two or three weeks. Thomson also offers fee based online access to Karnovs lovsamling, an annotated consolidation of Danish laws, and Revisorbiblioteket Online, a service that provides laws, regulations, cases, and commentaries related to tax, customs, accounting, and industry. Full text cases from the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Municipal Court, Commercial Court, and Maritime Court related to these topics are included.

 

FED-Online

The Insurance Institute Publishing [Forsikringshøjskolens Forlag] maintains its Insurance and Compensation Cases Collection [FED: Forsikrings- og erstatningsretlig domssamling] at http://www.fed.dk/. The collection includes cases from the Courts of Appeals, Maritime Court, and Commercial Court. The Web site permits searching by subject heading, classification number, docket number, and words in the summary of each case. Search results include case citations and summaries of the cases. Non subscribers may retrieve the full text of three cases without charge. Subscribers have access to the full texts which provide links to related laws and regulations.

Landsorganisation Juridiske Informationsservice

This site at http://www.jur.lo.dk/ is maintained by the Danish Conference of Trade Unions [Landsorganisation]. Under the heading “arbejdsret” are provided free access to summaries and the full texts of labor cases from the Labour Court, Supreme Court and Court of Appeals.  Selected law texts are also available.

Magnus Ajour

The publishing house, Magnus Informatik, provides "Dags dato," a free subject listing of the most recent day's cases from the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Maritime Court, Commercial Court, National Tax Tribunal, and some administrative courts at http://www.magnus.dk/ajour/framdd.htm. A brief summary of the issues and information on the parties, date, and docket number for the cases are provided. Fee paying subscribers can access The Legal Newsletter [Juridisk nyhedsbrevet], which contains summaries of important cases arranged by subject.

Schultz

The Schultz publishing house provides fee based access to its databases at http://www.schultz-online.dk/. Included are full text databases on labor, employment, and tax.

Domstolene i Danmark

This Web site was established by the Danish Court Administration [Domstolsstyrelsen] at http://www.domstol.dk/. It provides background information about the court system and lists contact information and links for the courts.  Some of the court Web sites provide summaries of recent selected cases.

NetTidende

NetTidende is an electronic gazette that provides the text of official announcements, legal notices, and tenders. It is available at https://www.nettidende.dk/.

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Guides to Online Legal Information

The following online tools are available to aid in finding Danish legal information.

Danmark.dk

The government of Denmark has established an official portal to government information on the Internet at http://www.danmark.dk. Under the headings “Nyheder” [news] and “Lovgivning” [legislation], this site contains summaries of and links to recent legislative proposals and enactments, new regulations, and other initiatives of the Parliament and government ministries. Law related documents can be purchased from the site’s online bookstore. It also provides contact information and links to the Web sites for government offices. The heading “Samfundsnøglen” [key to society] includes an overview of the “retsvæsen” [legal system]. A search engine permits searches by key word.

Danske Kommisionsbetænkninger

The State and University Library [Statsbiblioteket] in Århus at http://www.statsbiblioteket.dk/fagbib/baseindex.jsp?base=dkb&&type=simple&lang=dan offers a searchable database of government commission reports issued in preparation for legislative proposals or public debates.

Informationssøgning

The law librarians at the Legal Laboratory [Juridisk Laboratorium] at Copenhagen University provide a legal research guide, Informationssøgning [Information Retrieval], at http://www.jur.ku.dk/biblioteker/infosoeg/. It includes descriptions of and links to electronic legal resources in Denmark and other countries. Danish resources are found under "Danmark" and include preparatory works, law and regulations/indexes, court decisions, administrative decisions, books, and articles. The guide also provides links to law firms, publishers and other Web sites that contain legal information. Under the heading “Dansk ret på engelsk” are listings of English translations of Danish laws under both their Danish and English titles. Links are provide when electronic texts are available on the Internet.

JuraIndex

The Web site, JuraIndex, at http://juraindex.dk is provided by a Danish attorney. It offers subject guides to Danish laws, government reports, law related books, periodicals, periodical articles, conferences, and films. It also presents selected articles in full text, legal definitions, outlines of legal topics, and links to other legal information.
 

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Norway

Background

Electronic legal information made its debut in Norway during the early 1980s. However, the idea of creating a database containing legal texts had been under consideration in Norway for nearly a decade. Professor Jon Bing, at the University of Oslo Law Faculty, first proposed the idea of machine readable statutes in 1971.(21) He envisioned an online system called JURIS comprised of three main parts: statutes, cases, and regulations. In 1973, as Bing's idea was studied further at the university, the Ministry of Justice [Justisdepartementet] formed the Committee on Electronic Data Processing [EDB-utvalg] and the related Planning Section [Planseksjon] to consider utilizing data processing to issue its legal documents.

Around this same time, the existing printing presses used to produce the Norwegian Law Compendium [Norges lover], the biennial consolidation of Norwegian statutes in force, needed to be replaced. The Norwegian Statute Book Foundation [Lovsamlingsfondet], a foundation created by the Law Faculty at the University of Oslo for the purpose of editing and distributing the Norwegian Law Compendium called on the Department for Data Processing Matters [Avdeling for EDB Spørsmål](22) at the university to investigate whether data processing could be a solution to the printing problems. This department issued a report in 1976 recommending the use of data processing and electronic printing to produce and update the work. It also recommended creating a national legal information system electronically distributed through computer terminals.(23) In 1979, a data office was organized within the Norwegian Statute Book Foundation project at the university. Its goal was to electronically produce the 1981 edition of the Norwegian Law Compendium. The 1979 hard copy text was optically scanned and new laws and annotations were added. The electronic text was edited and marked up with a special code for computer based printing of the publication. The database, operational in the spring of 1981, was accessible only to the government through the Norwegian Central Data office [Statens Datasentral]. It was made available to the public in 1983.

As the creation of this database was underway, several studies were conducted to evaluate the need to produce other types of legal information, including cases and regulations, electronically. One study recommended collaborating with the Office of the Prime Minister [Statsministerens Kontor] in the production of the Norwegian Legal Gazette [Norsk lovtidend]. This gazette contains all new laws and regulations. In 1980, a working group of the Norwegian Statute Book Foundation project at the university suggested establishing a central office, outside of the university, with responsibility for creation and maintenance of additional legal databases.(24)

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Legal Databases

The First Legal Database: Lovdata

In July 1981, Lovdata [Lawdata], a self-supporting foundation was formed. Lovdata was to be governed by a board of directors consisting of one representative from the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Consumer Affairs and Government Administration [Forbruker- og Administrasjonsdeparte-mentet], Faculty of Law at the University of Oslo [Juridiske Fakultetet ved Universitetet i Oslo], Norwegian Bar Association [Norske Advokatforening], and Association of Norwegian Judges [Norske Dommerforening]. Its goal was to "establish, maintain, and operate systems for legal information."(25) This foundation replaced the data office that had functioned as part of the Statute Book Foundation at the university. According to the contract between the Ministry of Justice and the Norwegian Statute Book Foundation establishing Lovdata, the database used for computer based printing of the Norwegian Law Compendium would be maintained by Lovdata.(26)

Interestingly, Lovdata was formed as an independent nonprofit entity outside of the government. At the time, it was felt that an independent organization could operate more efficiently and impartially than a government agency might.(27) There was also concern about commercialization and monopolization should a for profit organization become involved.(28) The foundation model was chosen because it would be difficult to close down or sell under Norwegian foundation law.(29)

As recommended earlier, Lovdata began working with the Office of the Prime Minister to develop a test database that could be used to produce the Norwegian Legal Gazette. By 1982, Lovdata was entering all new statutes and regulations into a searchable database used by the government printer to print the gazette. Ten years later, Lovdata also took over editorial responsibility for the publication of the gazette.

In 1982, with financing from the Ministry of Justice, Lovdata began to consolidate, index, and prepare a database of all national regulations in force. This project resulted in the first comprehensive publication of current regulations in Norway, Norwegian Regulation Compendium [Norges forskrifter]. A comparable database of local and regional regulations currently in force was finished in 1988. Lovdata started an index of laws and regulations no longer in force in 1985. In 1992, Lovdata contracted with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs [Utenriksdepartementet] to produce the printing tapes for the Norwegian Treaty Series [Overenskomster med fremmede stater]. It has since offered the full text of treaties on Lovdata. Earlier tax treaties and a title list of treaties giving the status of the treaties are also included. Lovdata began including legislative preparatory works [forarbeider] in the 1990s. It currently contains an index of preparatory works for various legislative initiatives since 1970, summaries of Norwegian Official Reports [Norges offentlige utredninger](30) since 1985, and the full text of proposed bills [proposisjoner] before the Parliament [Stortinget] and Parliamentary committee reports [komitéinnstillinger] since 1991. Lovdata also provides links to information contained on the Parliament's Web site.

Lovdata began developing databases containing cases in the early 1980s. It entered into a contract with the Norwegian Bar Association to scan the headnote summaries [hodene] of Høyesterett [Supreme Court] decisions that had been printed in the Norwegian Court Gazette [Norsk retstidende]. When Lovdata began preparing the database used to print this gazette in 1980, it started loading the full text of the cases appearing in it into the Lovdata database as well. Supreme Court cases decided since 1836 have now been added. Lovdata also contracted with the Bar Association to scan the summaries of the lower court cases that had been published in The Court Process [Rettens gang]. In recent years, Lovdata has contracted directly with many of the courts to get their decisions in electronic form. Lovdata now includes the full text of decisions from several Courts of Appeals [Lagmannsretter], plus summaries of other decisions from the municipal courts [byretter], and county courts [herredsretter], and various administrative tribunals. Norwegian privacy law protects names of and sensitive information on individuals involved in criminal litigation.(31) Therefore, Lovdata must assure that all names and other personal information are removed from such cases that are included in its databases.

In cooperation with the Law Faculty at the University of Oslo, Lovdata includes an index covering Norwegian articles and books on law and related subject matter published since the mid 1980s. Lovdata also publishes online the full text of a quarterly journal on legal informatics, Law & Data [Lov&data] and a newsletter covering European Union law, Eurolaw [Eurorett]. In addition, Lovdata provides an enhanced English language version of Celex. It also offers Norwegian language versions of the European Economic Area agreements and directives.

These legal sources are available in fee based services offered by Lovdata. It is possible to subscribe to Lovdata PLUSS which contains the Norwegian sources in Lovdata, plus European Union sources.  Lovdata additionally offers its services on CD-ROMs that are updated twice a year. As originally envisioned, Lovdata was expected to be a self supporting entity. The fee based services account for a major portion of Lovdata's income. In addition, Lovdata does consulting and publishing for both the government and private industry.

Since 1995, Lovdata has provided portions of its databases free of charge on the Internet at http://www.lovdata.no/. This Web site contains the official full texts of statutes and regulations as published in the Norwegian Legal Gazette since 1998. Full texts of treaties in force starting in 1992 are also available plus chronological and alphabetical indices for treaties to which Norway is a party from 1661 to date. In addition, Lovdata includes the continually updated consolidations of national and local statutes and regulations in force. Searchable alphabetical, chronological, classified, and industry indexes to these statutes and regulations are also available. The Web site contains the full text of decisions of the Supreme Court until they are published in the Norwegian Court Gazette, decisions from the Courts of Appeals from recent months, plus directives and circulars from the Social Security Administration [Rikstrygdeverket] and Labor Commission [Arbeidstilsynet], and Tax Directorate [Skattedirektoratet].  Alphabetical and chronological listings of English translations of Norwegian laws are also provided.

The Parliamentary Web Site: Stortinget

The Parliament has offered a Web site at http://www.stortinget.no/ since 1996. Under the heading "Saker" [Matters], there are included the full texts of the budget, recommendations made by Parliamentary committees concerning legislative proposals, resolutions [beslutninger] of the lower house [Odelstinget] and the upper house [Lagtinget], and reports [referater] of debates [debatter] and decisions [vedtak] of the upper and lower houses of the Parliament, private bills [private forslag] proposed by the members of Parliament, and other documents. The texts are grouped together by session of Parliament and the coverage for many materials starts in 1993. A separate search form for each category of material permits searches by key word, title, date, and other specific fields. A searchable index is available for all texts listed above. Under the heading "Spørsmål" [Questions], there are links to reported questions [meldte spørsmål], written questions [skriftlige spørsmål], and reports from question periods [spørretimereferat]. Additional information on scheduled meetings, the members of Parliament, political parties is also provided under separate headings. Some of this information is available in English. The Web site provides links to radio broadcasts of sessions and to Lovdata and ODIN, the Norwegian government's main Web site.

The Government Ministerial Web Site: ODIN

The Norwegian government provides electronic access to information from its ministries through a Web site named ODIN(32) at http://odin.dep.no/. ODIN is operated by the Ministry of Labor and Government Administration [Arbeids- og Administrasjonsdepartementet]. It started on an experimental basis in 1995 and became permanently available in 1997. The editorial oversight for ODIN lies with the Government Administration Service [Statens Forvaltningstjeneste], but the ministries and the Office of the Prime Minister are responsible for their own portions of ODIN. Representatives from all of these offices participate in a supplier forum [leverandørforum] through which they coordinate their activities.

All ministries use a common layout. Information is arranged under four main headings. "Aktuellt" [Current] contains press releases, speeches, and articles about matters under consideration during the past week. "Departementene" [Ministries] contains contact information and links for offices and individuals in each ministry. "Publikasjoner" [Publications] contains reports to the Parliament, bills submitted to the Parliament, investigative reports, action plans, guidances, periodicals, and budgets. "Regelverk" [Legal works] contains proposed laws and regulations, circulars, principle statements and interpretations, timetables, national political decisions and directions, guidances, brochures, and EEA and EU material. Under each heading, information is listed in reverse chronological order. An archive contains all documents ever published in ODIN. Documents are arranged in three groupings: "Regjeringsdokumenter" [Government documents], "Departementene" [Ministries], "Norges Offentlige Utredninger." Documents are listed under each heading in chronological order.

ODIN's search engine permits key word searching that can be applied to the entire system or limited to a particular ministry. Searches can also be limited by date, broad subject area, type of publication, author, and language. Some information is provided in English, German, French, and Spanish. It is possible to select "language" from the tool bar on ODIN's home page. This provides links to information by language and links to ministry pages containing foreign language information. There is also a "language" button on the tool bar on each ministry's Web site that links to selected foreign language documents.

The Government Judicial Web Site: Domstolen i Norge

Several Norwegian courts have established Web sites. In 2000, the Ministry of Justice's department of Professional and IT Services for the Judicial System [Rettsvesenets IT- og Fagtjeneste (RIFT)] established a gateway to these individual Norwegian court Web sites at http://www.domstol.no/. The Ministry of Justice has recommended that all Norwegian courts establish Web sites providing specified information and using a common layout.(33)  Most of the courts provide background information about their buildings, judges and staffs, court procedures, and fees. Several courts include helpful guides to the judicial system and dictionaries of important terminology. Some offer their calendars and provide a docket list with summary information (e.g., nature of the case, the judges, and attorneys) on the matters pending before the court. Only the Supreme Court, Gulating Court of Appeals, and the Oslo District Court provide selected decisions in full text. Other courts provide summaries of decisions and links to the full texts on Lovdata, if they are available. Names and any personal information about parties are generally deleted from the docket lists, case summaries, and full texts on these Web sites.(34)

For nearly two decades, the Lovdata foundation has been the primary provider of electronic information in Norway. In 1999, a working group of the Ministry of Labor and Government Administration completed a major study on the availability of Norwegian legal information on the Internet.(35) It recommended the establishment of a "virtual national legal information system," to be developed and maintained by the government. This system would provide free access by all citizens to "all laws, all regulations, all planning decisions, all legislative preparatory works, all essential cases, all essential administrative decisions, all essentials circulars in departments, as well as international law and practice."(36) Information would be made available on the Internet by existing providers such as the Parliament, ODIN, and various government departments. A common government portal would link all of the information. Since this report was issued, the Ministry of Finance has been studying the costs of providing such legal information without charge. It has also been investigating the consequences of providing the same information that is currently available through Lovdata.

Konkursrådets Domsdatabase

The Norwegian Advisory Council on Bankruptcy maintains a Web site at http://www.konkursradet.no/domsdatabase that contains summaries of bankruptcy decisions from 1981 to date. It permits searches by key word and code section.

Norsk Lovkommentar

This fee based database is offered by Gyldendal Rettsdata at http://www.gyldendal.no/rettsdata/. It contains a current consolidation of Norwegian laws in force. The consolidation provides annotations to the laws and links to the cases referenced in the annotations. A CD-ROM version of this consolidation is also available.

SARA: Samerettslige Avgjørelser

The Sami Law Group at the Law Faculty at the University of Trømø [Samerettsgruppa ved Det juridiske fakultet, Universitetet i Tromsø] has created a searchable database of Norwegian court decisions concerning the Sami people at http://sara.uit.no/SaraInfo.htm.

 

Translated Norwegian Legislation

The Law Library [Juridiske fakultetsbibliotek] at the Law Faculty at the University of Oslo has created a searchable database of translated Norwegian laws and regulations at http://www.ub.uio.no/ujur/ulov. When the library identifies translations, it lists them in the database by their Norwegian and foreign language titles and, for most, provides access to an electronic version of the translation. The translations are unofficial and are not kept up to date. However, whenever possible, the library indicates where a current Norwegian version of the law or regulation is available. The library also has hard copy versions of the translations.

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Guides to Online Legal Information

The following online resources are helpful for locating Norwegian legal information.

ESOP

The Government Administration Service offers a database containing full bibliographic descriptions of all documents issued by the Parliament and the government since 1971. It is available at http://www.esop.no. In addition to bibliographic information, the database explains how to obtain each document. Links are provided to electronic versions of texts when they are available. Users can search the database by key words and can limit searches by field, date and type of document.

Juridisk Nettviser

Law librarians at the law faculties at the universities in Oslo, Bergen, and Tromsø have created Juridisk Nettviser, an Internet gateway to online legal information. This tool, available at http://www.ub.uio.no/ujur/baser/index.html, facilitates access to Norwegian, foreign, and international legal sources that are available on the Internet. Links for Norwegian sources are found under “Norge.” They are organized in the following categories: "Statsforfatninger" [Constitutional Documents], "Lover og Forskrifter" [Laws and Regulations], "Rundskriv og Annet Regelverk" [Circulars and Other Legal Works], "Forarbeider" [Preparatory Works], "Rettspraksis" [Case Law], "Annen Praksis" [Other Practice], "Litteratur" [Commentary]. Each category provides descriptions of works found in a variety of databases, including Lovdata, Stortinget, and ODIN. In addition, under "Juridiske Emner," the site links to searchable subject headings in BIBSYS, the Norwegian national union catalog.

Jus.no Juristenes Informasjonssenter

The Norwegian Bar Association, Norwegian Association of Lawyers [Norges Juristforbund], and Center for Continuing Legal Education [Juristenes Utdanningssenter] have created a Web site at http://www.jus.no/. This site provides links to Norwegian online legal resources including laws and regulations, preparatory works, case law, government authorities and private organizations, and legal theory and literature.

Norge.no

The Norwegian government recently established a common Internet portal to all types of national, regional, and local government information and services. The site, at http://www.norge.no/, provides access to information by location, government office, and subject. It includes a topical section "Rettslige spørsmål" that provides links to legal sources, government ministries, the Parliament, and the courts. A search engine permits keyword searches across other government Web sites.

Sources to Legal Information in Norway, Written and Electronic

Pål Bertnes, Librarian at the Law Library at the Law Faculty at the University of Olso, has created this research guide at
http://www.ub.uio.no/ujur/publikasjoner/skriftserie/18/. It provides an overview of major Norwegian legal sources with links to electronic versions.
 

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Sweden

Background

Sweden began experimenting with the use of data processing as a means to produce and exchange legal information during the late 1960s. In 1967, the Ministry of Justice [Justitiedepartementet] established the Joint Committee for Automated Data Processing within the Judicial System [Samarbetsorgan för ADB inom Rättsväsendet]. This committee later became known as the Joint Committee on Information Systems in the Judicial Field [Samarbetsorgan för Rättsväsendets Informationssystem (SARI)].(37) This committee was comprised of representatives from the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Finance [Finansdepartementet], Court Authority [Domstolsverket], National Police Department [Rikspolisstyrelsen], Corrections Board [Kriminalvårdsstyrelsen], and Swedish Agency for Public Management [Statskontoret]. SARI's objective was to investigate issues surrounding the use of data processing in various routines within the legal system.(38)

At first, the committee experimented with computers to generate key word indexes from law texts and then with search systems. In 1970, its work was further delineated by a decree that set out plans for the Information Systems in the Judicial Field [Rättsväsendets Informationssystem], known as RI.

"In order to collect, store, process, and furnish information in connection with the work of the police, prosecution, and court system together with the correctional system, there shall be an information system based on electronic data processing (Information System in the Judicial Field). The information system shall consist of subsystems."(39)

These subsystems were intended to be internal systems that would be utilized by the government authorities mainly for indexing, drafting, typesetting, and daybooking purposes. The Center for Administrative Data Processing [Datamaskincentralen för Administrativ Databehandling (DAFA)] would maintain the subsystems on a central computer. A subsystem for criminal information, named BROTTSRI, and a subsystem for planning information, named PLANRI, were established. LAGRI [Systemet för Lagstiftningsförfarandet och Rättspraxis] was the name given to the legal information subsystem.

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Legal Databases

The First Legal Database: LAGRI

LAGRI was envisioned as a system that would contain information from the beginning through the end of the law making process. Preparatory works such as law reform proposals, reports from official commissions of inquiry, communications from the ministries, as well as decisions of the Parliament and final enactments, would be included. LAGRI would also provide decrees and orders from the Government and administrative and judicial decisions. It was to be a decentralized system, with each authority deciding what to include and when to include it. Each authority would retain ownership of its data. Users of LAGRI could search for information remotely from their offices using key word Boolean searches. LAGRI's goal was "to improve the information to authorities, organizations, and citizens on acts, decrees, and other regulations but also to give information on the preparatory works

  • by giving better publicity to such information...;
  • by updating indexes of printed materials with such information;
  • by extending the possibility to search for legal data in terminal-based information systems."(40)

By the mid 1970s, cases from the Labor Court [Arbetsdomstolen] and the Housing Court [Bostadsdomstolen] had been added to LAGRI. The volume of information in the system grew sufficiently extensive that users from departments not part of the Joint Committee on Information Systems were interested in using LAGRI and they began contracting with the individual departments for access to the data. In 1980, the committee recommended that outside users be allowed to use the system by contracting centrally with the Center for Administrative Data Processing instead of separately with each department.(41)

The First Public Legal Database: Rättsdata

In 1981, the system was opened to the public on a fee basis and its name was changed to Rättsdata [Legaldata] in accordance with a government decree. This decree mandated that the following information be included in Rättsdata:

  • an index of government committees with information about members, working plans, and current directives
  • an index of acts and decrees [författningar] published in the Swedish Code of Statutes [Svensk författningssamling]
  • acts and decrees in force published in the Swedish Code of Statutes
  • treaties from the Council of Europe in English versions
  • an index to acts and decrees in the National Board of Customs Administration Code of Laws [Tullverkets författningssamling] and selected acts
  • an index to acts and decrees of the Corrections Board
  • an index to acts and decrees in the National Tax Board Code of Laws [Riksskatteverkets författningssamling] and references to selected decisions
  • cases from the Supreme Administrative Court [Regeringsrätten], Administrative Courts of Appeals [Kammarrätten], Labor Court, Housing Court, Courts of Appeals [Hovrätterna].(42)

Rättsdata continued to be operated by the Center for Administrative Data Processing, which now also assumed responsibility for contracts and invoices with outside clients. Despite the availability of Rättsdata to the public, the demand for it was not as large as expected.(43) The system continued to function primarily as a means of storing information and producing printed indexes and texts for the various government authorities.

Soon after Rättsdata was established, the Joint Committee on Information Systems set up the Legal Data Group [Rättsdatagrupp] to study the system. This group issued a report in 1984 that recommended consistency in the structure of data produced and a common search engine, but urged a more decentralized system for administering electronic texts.(44) Because of the availability of mini and micro computers, the group suggested that each authority should be responsible for providing its own electronic information on local computers. This report met with considerable criticism.(45)

In 1986, the Joint Committee on Information Systems contracted with Peter Seipel, an expert in the field of electronic legal information, to further study the purpose, economics, and organization of a legal information system. In his report to the committee, he noted that the public needs access to electronic legal information and that a legal information system should be more than a means to produce and index texts.(46) He recommended that the committee set up a working group to further study the need for public access to legal information. As a result, the Working Group for Computerized Legal Information [Arbetsgruppen för Datoriserad Rättsinformation] was appointed. It issued a report in 1988 that suggested that a foundation be established to promote computerization of legal sources and discuss policy questions and recommend solutions for the legal system in general.(47) The Foundation for Legal Information [Stiftelsen för Rättsinformation] was set up in 1989 and continues its work today. Its objective has been to "further the rule of law by promoting information about Swedish legal sources and related legal materials."(48) It has been active in efforts to store legal texts in machine-readable form, to coordinate and standardize legal information, and to initiate discussions, research and training in relevant areas.

A Public-Private Legal Database: Rättsbanken

While the Joint Committee on Information Systems was studying the need for Rättsdata, the Center for Administrative Data Processing was expanding its role in serving the original government authorities. By 1983, it had developed a new search engine and parallel databases to meet the needs of new users. The new databases were given the name Förvaltningsdata [Administrative Data]. They included data from both government authorities and private organizations, particularly in the accounting, tax, and economic areas. The Center for Administrative Data Processing also developed a common search engine, Find It, that permitted users to search in both Rättsdata and Förvaltningsdata. In 1985, both systems were marketed together by the Center for Administrative Data Processing as Rättsbanken. This center became a private company in 1986. As a result, the decree setting up Rättsdata was changed so that government authorities were no longer required to contract with the center for data processing.(49) Many continued to do so, including the Corrections Board, Court Authority, National Tax Board, and National Board of Customs Administration.

The types of data in Rättsbanken from these authorities has remained nearly the same as that mandated in the 1980 decree establishing Rättsdata. In 1993, the Ministry of Justice stopped supplying its texts of acts and decrees and its index for the legal gazette, Swedish Code of Statutes to Rättsbanken, making them available instead through a newly opened Parliamentary database. Rättsbanken has continued to provide access to these works, however, through a contract with the Parliament. Similarly, Rättsbanken contracted with the Parliament to provide access to Parliamentary databases.

Today, Rättsbanken is operated by Sema Group Info. In addition to the original Rättsdata databases, Rättsbanken also includes Parliamentary information, legal news, references to journal articles, and Sema's CELEX databases. It continues as a fee based service. In 1996, the system became available on the Internet at http://www.infotorg.sema.se/. It is organized into the following categories: "Juridiska Nyheter" [Legal News], "Domstolspraxis" [Case Law], "Författningar" [Laws and Decrees], "Riksdagstryck" [Parliamentary Documents], "Myndigheterspraxis" [Administrative Law], "Litteratur" [Secondary Sources], and "Europarätt" [European Law]. Each category has a separate search template that permits key word searching in the full texts and titles, as well as searches by subject words, citations, and other documents specific fields.

The Parliamentary Database: Rixlex

In the mid 1980s, a pilot project between the Administrative Office of the Parliament [Riksdagens Förvaltningskontor] and the Joint Committee on Information Systems began. This project, like LAGRI and Rättsdata, focused its attention on utilizing electronic data processing in order to produce and sell Parliamentary publications. However, there was no mandate for the content of the databases as there was with the Rättsdata system. Databases containing proposed bills, committee reports, debates, and information about the Parliament and its members were developed. These databases were only accessible internally in the Parliament. In 1993, the Parliament opened the databases to the public as the system named Rixlex. At this same time, the Ministry of Justice and other government ministries moved their databases from Rättsbanken to Rixlex in an effort to coordinate data processing and fully utilize existing capacity in Rixlex. Thus, Rixlex began providing access to laws and decrees earlier provided only in Rättsbanken, in addition to providing access to the preparatory works for those laws. The Rixlex search engine, TRIP, provided both key word and form-based searching.

Originally, Rixlex was only available as a fee based system. The annual subscription fee was based on the prices charged for printed works. There were no transaction or connect charges. Soon after Rixlex became publicly available, the government appointed the Information Technology Commission [IT-Kommission] to study the need for a national information technology strategy. In 1996, this commission made recommendations to the government.(50) It concluded that the government has a responsibility to provide electronic access to basic legal information (laws, regulations, preparatory works, and cases). Included were recommendations on ways to improve the dissemination of basic legal information. The government accepted these recommendations and proposed them to the Parliament. In particular, it recommended that electronic legal information should be made available free of charge.(51) The Parliament adopted the recommendations.(52) Rixlex has, therefore, been offered as a free service since 1996. It has been available as a Web site at http://www.riksdagen.se/ since 1997.

The Rixlex Web site currently contains the full text of proposed bills [propositioner], communications from the government, committee hearings [utskottsutfrågningar], committee reports [utskottsbetänkanden], committee statements [yttranden], interpellations [interpellationer] and answers [svar på interpellationer], questions for written answers [frågor för skriftliga svar] and the related answers [skriftliga svar på frågorna], and Parliamentary debates [debatter] and decisions [beslut]. In addition, the site provides the consolidated texts of laws and regulations currently in force (new enactments and amendments are incorporated into existing texts) plus the separate acts as they originally appear in the Swedish Code of Statutes. Laws that are no longer in force are also available. Additionally, the site links to an index of statutes and regulations.

Rixlex provides information about the members of Parliament, the standing committees, and the political parties. It has a dictionary, the newsletter, Från riksdag & departement, and sound and video recordings of chamber proceedings. Rixlex also links to the library of Parliament. Considerable information is provided in English, including a detailed description of the Parliament, the Parliamentary process and documentation, and a dictionary. Once users select a type of document, the site provides a search form that allows searches by key word, title, official document number, and date and often by names of members, committees or ministries. In some cases, it is possible to browse lists of documents.

The Government Web Site: Regeringskansliet

This official Web site of the Swedish government has been operated since 1994 by the Secretariat of the Government [Regeringskansliet] at http://www.regeringen.se/. It contains the full text of selected reports of official commissions of inquiry,(53) laws, information about the government ministries and their staffs, government committees, news, speeches, and press releases. Some English language information and publications offered by individual ministries are included. Users can select a government ministry page and then select the type of document desired or they can select the type of document desired and then choose the ministry involved. Either action results in a listing in reverse chronological order of the documents that are available in PDF format. The full text of the Swedish Code of Statutes and a consolidation of current laws and regulations in force are also available. A key word search form exists for each type of source. An index to the Swedish Code of Statutes and consolidation of laws in force permits searches by key word, law number, title, and government ministry or body. The Web site also links to preparatory works found on Rixlex.

In 1996, a working group was set up in the Secretariat of the Government to explore how to modernize the existing legal information system. This group gave its recommendations in 1998.(54) It recommended that the government create a single Internet portal that would link to all of the legal information found in the various government databases. This portal would permit both key word and structured searches over all of the databases. All sources required to be published in the Swedish Code of Statutes, regulations that are required to be otherwise published, preparatory works, and summaries of guiding cases from the courts and administrative agencies, summaries of cases from the European Court of Justice, and treaties were to be included in the government's legal information system. The group also recommended standards for marking, structuring, and searching texts. The government then made a proposal to the Parliament based on these recommendations.(55) The Parliament enacted the recommendations of the government into law in 1999.(56) According to this law, "legal information shall be conveyed with the help of information technology and be accessible through a common network. The contents of the system shall be accessible through uniform means."(57) The information shall also be accessible without charge.(58) The Government Secretariat was assigned responsibility for coordinating the system.

The Legal Information Portal: Lagrummet

The new system, Lagrummet, is now a reality. It is available on the Internet at http://www.lagrummet.gov.se/. As mandated in the enabling legislation, Lagrummet will contain or provide links to the following legal sources:

  • full text of laws and regulations as they initially appear in Swedish Code of Statutes
  • index to the laws and regulations appearing in Swedish Code of Statutes
  • consolidated current version of all laws and regulations in force
  • repealed laws
  • regulations that are published in sources other than Swedish Code of Statutes
  • index of government committees with information on government decisions, members, and working plans
  • committee directives
  • rationales for laws
  • official reports of commissions of inquiry
  • government bills
  • summaries of guiding decisions from the Supreme Court [Högsta Domstolen], Supreme Administrative Court, Courts of Appeals, Administrative Courts of Appeals, Labor Court, Market Court, and Patent Appeal Court stating the legal issue that has been tried, the docket number, and date of the decision
  • summaries of guiding decisions from administrative courts that are meaningful for the public and cannot be appealed stating the legal issue that has been tried, docket number, and date of the decision
  • summaries of cases from the European Court of Human Rights
  • full text of treaties published in the Swedish treaty series [Sveriges internationella överenskommelser].

Lagrummet currently provides an organized guide to the sources found on the Rixlex and Regeringskansliet Web sites. A Web page labeled "Dokument" [Documents] describes the types of legal source included and provides links to each of them. Other Web pages labeled "Regeringen" [The Government], "Riksdagen" [The Parliament] and "Myndigheter" [Authorities] provide links to legal sources generated by each of the bodies. Separate Web pages labeled "Förarbeten till Lagstiftning" [Preparatory works for Legislation], and "Författningar" [Laws and Regulations], link to full texts of these sources. Under "Svensk Rättspraxis" [Swedish Case Law] are found summaries of guiding cases from most Swedish courts and administrative bodies, beginning in 2000. Links to full texts are provided when they are available. A search engine permits searches by court and by case title.  Under "Internationellt Material" [International Material], are links to full texts of treaties, starting in 1999.  Each page provides descriptions and links to specific legal sources. Lagrummet does not yet offer a single search engine for all of the legal sources as originally planned.

Such information must be carefully removed from the official decisions of the courts which is time consuming and expensive. The Court Authority is currently studying the problem and a report is due in 2000.

Rättsnätet Notisum

Rättsnätet [LegalNet] is available from the publisher Notisum at http://www.notisum.se/. Much of the information on this site is fee based, but it does offer free access to an electronic version of the publisher's annotated consolidation of Swedish laws and regulations, Swedish Law Collection [Svensk lagsamling]. Also freely provided are subject and chronological indexes to the laws and regulations and a key word search engine to both the full text and the indexes. A table, "SFS-guiden," lists each new law or regulation published in the gazette, Swedish Code of Statutes, and indicates any prior laws it affects. Links are provided to the earlier laws. Rättsnätet also offers free access to tables of government proposed bills and court decisions from the Supreme Court, Supreme Administrative Court, Courts of Appeals, and Labor Court. It links to other legal information found on the Rixlex and Regeringskansliet Web sites and those of other government authorities and to the databases of the European Union. Rättsnätet subscribers have access to the full text of the government bills and cases listed in the tables noted above and to the annotations to the laws and regulations published in Svensk lagsamling.

Arbetsdomstolen

The Labor Court [Arbetsdomstolen] maintains a Web site at http://www.arbetsdomstolen.se/ that provides summaries of its cases starting in 2003. Selected cases are provided in full text.

CD-LAG

This CD-ROM contains an electronic version of Sweden's National Law [Sveriges rikes lag], an annotated consolidation of current Swedish laws and regulations published by Norstedts Juridik. It contains the full text of court cases published in New Juridical Archive I [Nytt juridiskt arkiv I].

Domstolverket

This site is maintained by the Swedish Court Authority at http://www.dom.se/. It provides background information on the Swedish court system, contact information, and links to individual courts that have Web sites. It does not provide information about or the texts of cases from these courts.

Marknadsdomstolen

The Swedish Market Court [Marknadsdomstolen] maintains a Web site at http://www.marknadsdomstolen.se/. It provides summaries and full texts of its cases starting in 2000.

Check to see about the cases at Hogsta Domstolen.

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Guides to Online Legal Information

The following tools provide assistance in locating Swedish legal information online.

Sverige.se

This site at http://www.sverige.se provides links to government offices and information about the Swedish culture and society, including a discussion of the legal system.

SverigeDirekt

This site at http://www.sverigedirekt.riksdagen.se/ provides links to government offices and information about the Swedish culture and society, including a discussion of the legal system.

Swedish Statutes in Translation

The Swedish Government publishes a list of Swedish statutes that have been translated into English and other languages. The list is available at
http://www.sweden.gov.se/sb/d/328.
 

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Conclusion

It is evident that the development of online legal information systems in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden occurred simultaneously along parallel tracks in each country. Sweden was in the forefront with its LAGRI system in the 1970s, but by the mid 1980s, all three countries had major legal databases in place. During the late 1990s, these databases had evolved into Web sites on the Internet and, by early 2000, current legal information was widely available free of charge in each country.

The impetus for embarking on automation was different in each country. In Denmark, the driving force behind automation was the need to efficiently identify the current law in force. In Norway, the first legal database arose from the need for a new typesetting method to print statutes. Legal data processing developed in Sweden as a means to efficiently share information among various government departments. In each country, the government played a major role in establishing legal databases. The Danish government launched both the main legal system, Retsinformation, and the Folketing's Web site. The Norwegian government influenced the development of the Lovdata system, even though it delegated the management of this system to a private organization. Both the ODIN and Storting Web sites are currently operated by the government. In Sweden, the government was the driving force behind the initial Rättsdata databases and continues to be the dominant provider of online legal information through Regeringskansliet, Rixlex, and Lagrummet.

In all three countries, the earliest legal databases mainly contained laws and regulations. Later, they were expanded to include ministerial publications and parliamentary documents. Cases have appeared primarily in private fee based databases, but have been slow to appear in the government operated databases. References to secondary sources also have appeared mostly in the private databases and few secondary sources appear in full text. Despite this limited online access to case law and secondary literature, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden have an outstanding record for making comprehensive legal information available online.

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Footnotes

1. A recent study measuring the ability of fifty-five countries to access and absorb information and information technology ranked Denmark, Norway, and Sweden 1st, 9th and 2nd respectively. A summary of this study, the IDC/World Times Information Society Index, can be found at http://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=pr2004_10_28_164010.

2. See infra pages 59-74.

3. Lov af 25 juni 1870 (Lovtidendeloven).

4. Betænkning om Lovtidende og Ministerialtidende afgivet af det af Justitsministeriet den 22 marts 1965 udvalg. Betænkning nr. 740 (Copenhagen, Statens Trykningskontor, 1975).

5. Sven Karnov, Det juridiske informationssystem og datateknikken:rapport til Statens samfundsvidenskabelige forskningsråd (Copenhagen: Statens samfundsvidenskabelige forskningsråd, 1976); ___, Det juridiske informationssystem: en brugerundersøgelse: rapport til Statens samfundsvidenskabelige forskningsråd (Copenhagen: Statens samfundsvidenskabelige forskningsråd, 1978); ___, Det juridiske informationssystem: et prøveprojekt: rapport til Statens samfundsvidenskabelige forskningsråd (Copenhagen: Statens samfundsvidenskabelige forskningsråd, 1979); ___, Det juridiske informationssystem: afsluttende rapport: rapport til Statens samfundsvidenskabelige forskningsråd (Copenhagen: Statens samfundsvidenskabelige forskningsråd, 1979).

6. This report is discussed in "Bilag 4," Retsinformationsrådets Betænkning om en Lovdatabase, Betænkning nr. 1001 (Copenhagen: Statens Informationstjeneste, 1988), 121.

7. "Notat om rådets nedsættelse og opgaver," reproduced as "Bilag 4," in Retsinformationsrådets betænkning om en lovdatabase, 121-122.

8. The text of this directive is reproduced as "Bilag 1," in Retsinformationsrådets betænkning om en lovdatabase, 91-92.

9. Retsinformationsrådet, Retsinformationsrådets betænkning om en lovdatabase.

10. Ibid., 70.

11. If a discrepancy occurs between a consolidated text and the original text in the Law Gazette, the text in the gazette is the authoritative text. Peter Blume, Juridisk informationssøgning, 3d ed. (n.p.: Akademisk Forlag, 1989), 120.

12. Retsinformationsrådet, Retsinformationsrådets betænkning om databaser med konkrete afgørelser, Betænkning nr. 1144 (Copenhagen: Statens Informationstjeneste, 1988).

13. Arbejdsgruppen Vedrørende Formidling af Retspraksis. Rapport (Copenhagen: Sekretariatet for Retsinformation, 1998).

14. Lovbekendtgørelse nr. 621 af 2 oktober 1987 om offentlige myndigheders registre. This law was recently superseded by Lov nr. 429 af 31 maj 2000 om behandling af personoplysninger.

15. Retsinformationsrådet, Retsinformationsrådets betænkning om databaser med konkrete afgørelser, 95.

16. Cirkulære om indlæggelse af afgørelser i Retsinformation, nr. 85 af 8 juli 1988, reprinted as "Bilag 9," in Retsinformationsrådet, Retsinformationsrådets betænkning om databaser med konkrete afgørelser, 185-186.

17. Cirkulæreskrivelse om regeringsbeslutning af 28. august 1997 om Retsinformation. CIS nr. 11480 af 30/10/1997.

18. Forskningsministeriet, Action for Change: IT Policy Plan 97/98 [Handling gi'r forvandling: IT-politisk handlingsplan 97/98] (Copenhagen: Forskningsministeriet, 1997), Initiative 2.5.

19, 20 deleted

21. "Lovene på EDB," Aftenposten, Nov. 9, 1971.

22. This is now called the Norwegian Research Center for Computers and Law [Institutt for Rettsinformatikk].

23. This report was published in a series from the University of Oslo Department for Data Processing Matters, NORIS, 18 (Oslo: n.p., 1977).

24. The events discussed in this paragraph are described in Morten Daae, Kort om Lovdatas første historie, §4 (as found at http://www.lovdata.no/litt/index.html).

25. Regulations for the Lovdata Foundation, §3 (as found at http://www.lovdata.no/litt/papers-regul.html).

26. Agreement on the Creation of the Lovdata Foundation, dated April 6, 1981 (as found at http://www.lovdata.no/litt/papers-agree.html).

27. Morten Daae, Kort om Lovdatas første historie, §7.4.

28. Jon Bonnevie Høyer, Aide-memoire on the Background for the Creation of the Lovdata Foundation (1981). English translation of the Ministry of Justice document (as found at http://www.lovdata.no/litt/papers-aide.html).

29. Morten Daae, Kort om Lovdatas første historie, §7.4.

30. The are reports of official commissions of inquiry appointed by the government to explore proposals for legislative reform.

31. Lov nr.31 av 14 apr. 2000 om behandling av personopplysninger (Personopplysningsloven).

32. ODIN stands for Official Documentation and Information in Norway [Offentlig dokumentasjon og informasjon i Norge].

33. E-post og Internett i domstolene - del rapport 1, §3.3. December 22, 1999 (as found at http://odin.dep.no/jd/norsk/publ/hoeringsnotater/012005-990051).

34. Lov nr. 37 av 4 juni 1999 om endringer i rettergangslovene permits courts to delete such information.

35. Plikt- og rettighetsinformasjon på Internett: rapport fra en arbeidsgruppe nedsatt av Arbeids- og administrasjonsdepartementet (Oslo: Departementet, 1999).

36. Ibid., 5.

37. The Joint Committee on Information Systems was established through a Ministry of Justice directive, Ju 1968:59.

38. Peter Seipel, Introduktion till rättsinformatiken (Stockholm: P.A. Norstedts, 1982), 61

39. Kungörelsen 1970:517, §1 (RI-kungörelsen).

40. L. Arnlind, Rättsdata, "A Swedish Legal Information System," in The Progress of Legal Information Systems in Europe: Proceedings of the Seventh Symposium on Legal Data Processing in Europe, Cambridge, 13-15, 1983, (Strasbourg: Council of Europe, 1984), 178.

41. The committee sent a memo dated March 14, 1980 to the government recommending that Rättsdata be opened for anyone to use. This is discussed in Samarbetsorganet för Rättsväsendets Informationssystem, Rättsdatasystemet: en orientering, Ds Ju 1980:10 (Stockholm: LiberFörlag/Allmänna Förlaget, 1980).

42. Förordning 1980:628 (Rättsdataförordningen) reproduced as "Bilaga 3," in Rättsdatasystemet: en orientering, Ds Ju 1980:10 (Stockholm: LiberFörlag/Allmänna Förlaget, 1981).

43. Peter Seipel, Juristen och datorn: introduktion till rättsinformatiken (Stockholm: Norstedts Juridik, 1992), 145.

44. Samarbetsorganet för Rättsväsendets Informationssystem, Rättsdata: utveckling, nulage, framtid: förslag, Ds Ju 1984:3 (Stockholm: Liber/Allmänna Förlaget, 1984).

45. Johan Palm, "Rättsbanken," in Rättslig informationssökning i databaser: juristens nya verktyg (Stockholm: Fritze, 1994), 177.

46. Peter Seipel, Elektronisk rättsinformation, IRI-rapport 1986:10. (Stockholm, Institutet för Rättsinformatik, 1986).

47. The report is discussed in detail in Peter Seipel, "Stiftelsen för rättsinformation och den svenska situationen," in Nordisk rettsinformatikk: foredrag fra Oslo-konferansen 21.og 22. september 1989 (Oslo: Tano, 1990), 132-134.

48. "Report Submitted by the Swedish Delegation," in Roles in the Organisation of Legal Data Processing Systems, Proceedings of the 8th Colloquy on Legal Data Processing in Europe, Malta, 9-11, 1990 (Strasbourg: Council of Europe Press, 1992), 100.

49. Förordning 1986:587.

50. The commission's statement, dated October 8, 1996, is available at http://itkommissionen.se.

51. Regeringens proposition 1995/96:125 Åtgärder för att bredda och utveckla användningen av informationsteknik (Measures for Broadening and Developing Use of Information Technology), §5.3.4.

52. Regerings skrivelse 1995/96:282.

53. These reports are called Statens offentliga utredningar (SOU) and Departementesserier (Ds). They present the results of official investigations on government proposals, including proposals for legislative reforms.

54. Ett offentligt rättsinformationssystem, Ds 1998:10. (Stockholm: Fritzes Offentliga Publikationer, 1998).

55. Regeringens skrivelse 1998/99:17.

56. Förordning 1999:175 (Rättsinformationsförordning).

57. Ibid., §1.

58. Ibid., §20.

59. reference deleted.

Appendices

Denmark

Norway

Sweden

Danish Preparatory Works (Legislative History) on the Internet

 

Type of Source

Online Service

 
  Retsinformation Folketinget Danske Kommisionsbetænkninger
Official Commissions of Inquiry Reports [Kommissionsbetænkninger]     1850-date (index only)
Bills [Lovforslag] submitted to Parliament for 1st reading 1985-date 1997-date  
Proposed resolutions [Beslutningsforslag] drafted by opposition parties 1985-date 1997-date  
Private bills [Private forslag] 1985-date 1997-date  
Committee Accountings [Udvalgsberetninger] on bills not forwarded for further consideration 1985-date 1997-date  
Committee Reports [Udvalgsbetænkninger] on bills before 2nd reading in Parliament 1985-date 1997-date  
Supplemental Committee Reports [Tillægsbetænkninger] on bills before 3rd reading in Parliament 1985-date 1997-date  
Debates [Debatter] 1985-date 1997-date  
Decisions [Vedtak] 1985-date 1997-date  
Questions and Interpellations [Spørgsmål til skriftlig besvarelse med svar] 1985-date 1997-date  
Minutes of Plenary Meetings [Møder i folketingssalen] 1985-date 1997-date  


Danish Statutory Law on the Internet

Type of Source

Online Service (* indicates fee based service)

  Retsinformation AdvokatNet* Schultz* Thomason/Karnov* Thomson/Revisorbibliotek
Laws [hovedlove] as initially published in the legal gazette [Lovtidende] 1870s-date Coverage varies by title Coverage varies by title Latest few months 1999-date
Consolidated laws [Lovbekendtgørelse] in force [Gældende love] Continually updated Coverage varies by title Coverage varies by title   1999-date
Superseded laws [Ophævde love] 1985-date        


Danish Administrative Law on the Internet

Type of Source

Online Service (* indicates fee based service)

  Thomson/Retsinformation Revisorbibliotek AdvokatNet* Schultz* Thomson/Karnov*
New regulations [Bekendtgørelser] as published in the legal gazette 1985-date 1999-date Coverage varies by title Coverage varies by title Latest few months
Regulations in force [Gældende forskrifter] Continually updated Continually updated Coverage varies by title Coverage varies by title  
Superseded regulations [Ophævde forskrifter] 1985-date        
Circulars [Cirkculærer] 1985-date 1999-date Coverage varies by title Coverage varies by title  
Guidances [Vejledninger] 1985-date 1999-date Coverage varies by title Coverage varies by title  
Memoranda [Skrivelser]          
Administrative decisions [Administrative afgørelser] 1985-date 1999-date Coverage varies by title Coverage varies by title  


Danish Case Law on the Internet

Online Service

Court

(* indicates fee based service) Supreme Court [Højesteretten] Courts of Appeals [Landsretter] Municipal Courts [Byretter] Maritime Court [Søretten] Commercial Court [Handelsretten] Labor Court [Arbejdsretten] Tax Tribunal [Landsskatteret]
Thomson/GadJura UfR Nyhedsservice Summaries for latest 3 weeks            
Magnus Dags Dato Summaries for current date Summaries for current date   Summaries for current date Summaries for current date   Summaries for current date
Magnus Juridisk Nyhedsbrev* Summaries for latest 3 months Summaries for latest 3 months          
Schultz Domssamling i Arbejdsret * 1997-date Labor/unemployment cases 1997-date Labor/unemployment cases       1990-date  
Højesteretten Summaries for the latest six months            
Arbejdsdirektoratet 1985-date Unemployment cases 1977-date Unemployment cases 1984-date Unemployment cases        
FED-Online   1994-date
Insurance cases
  1994-date
Insurance cases
1944-date
Insurance cases
   
Thomson/Revisorbiblioteket Online* 1998-date
Tax, customs, accounting cases
1998-date
Tax, customs, accounting cases
1988-date
Tax, customs, accounting cases
1998-date
Tax, customs, accounting cases
1998-date
Tax, customs, accounting cases
   
Landsorganisations Juridiske Informationsservice 1997-date
Labor cases
1997-date
Labor cases
1977-date
Labor cases
1997-date
Labor cases
1997-date
Labor cases
1998-date  


Danish Treaties On the Internet

Type of Source

Online Service

  Retsinformation
Newly ratified treaties as published in the legal gazette [Lovtidende] 1987-date


Norwegian Preparatory Works (Legislative History) on the Internet

Type of Source

Online Service (* indicates fee based service)

  ODIN Stortinget Lovdata Pluss* Lovdata
Official Commissions of Inquiry Reports [Norges Offentlige Utredninger (NOU)] 1993-date   Summaries 1985-date  
Bills submitted to Lower House of Parliament [Odelstingsproposisjoner] 1993-date   1996-date  
Private bills [Private forslag]   1993-date 1991-date  
Committee Recommendations [Komitéinnstillinger] on bills submitted to Lower House   1993-date 1991-date  
Lower House Resoutions [Odelstingsbeslutninger]   1995-date    
Committee Recommendations [Komitéinnstillinger] on bills submitted to Upper House [Lagting]   1994-date 1991-date  
Upper House Resolutions [Lagtingsbeslutninger]   1995-date    
Debates [Debatter]   1996-date    
Decisions [Vedtak]   1996-date    
Questions and Interpellations [Spørsmål til Skriftlig Besvarelse med Svar]   1996-date    
Minutes of plenary sessions [Referater]   1996-date    


Norwegian Statutory Law on the Internet
Type of Source Online Service (* indicates fee based service)
  Lovdata Lovdata Pluss* Karnov
Laws [Lover] as initially published in the legal gazette [Norsk Lovtidend] 1998-date 1987-date  
Consolidated laws in force [Gjeldende lover] Continually updated Continually updated Continually updated
Superseded laws [Opphevede lover] Continually updated Continually updated  


Norwegian Administrative Law on the Internet
Type of Source Online Service (* indicates fee based service)
  Lovdata Lovdata Pluss* ODIN
New regulations [forskrifter] as initially published in the legal gazette [Norsk lovtidend] 1998-date 1992-date 1999-date
Consolidated regulations in force [Gjeldende forskrifter] Continually updated Continually updated  
Circulars [Rundskriv]   Varies by issuing body Varies by issuing body
Guidances [Veiledninger]   Varies by issuing body Varies by issuing body
Administrative decisions [Administrative avgjørelser] Varies by issuing body Varies by issuing body  


Norwegian Case Law on the Internet  
Court Online Service (* indicates fee based service)  
  Lovdata NorLex* Karnov* Gulating Court of Appeals Oslo Tingret
Supreme Court [Høyesterett] Most recent 3 months 1945-date; selected cases 1836-1945 Cases referenced in annotations    
Courts of Appeals [Lagmannsrett] Most recent 4 months 1945-date Cases referenced in annotations Most recent 3 months  
District Courts [Tingretter]   (Oslo) 2002-date; selected cases 1935 date     Most recent year
Municipal Courts [Byretter]   1945-date      
County Courts [Herredsretter]   1945-date      
Labor Court [Arbeidsrett]   1916-1998      


Norwegian Treaties on the Internet
Type of Source Online Service (* indicates fee based service)
  Lovdata
Treaty series [Overenskomster med fremmede stater] 1992-date


Swedish Preparatory Works (Legislative History) on the Internet
Type of Source Online Service (* indicates fee based service)
  Regeringskansliet Rixlex Rättsbanken* Rättsnätet-Notisum*
Official Commissions of Inquiry Reports [Statens offentliga utredningar (SOU)] 1994-date      
Bills [Propositioner] submitted to Parliament 1995/96-date 1993-date 1993-date 1993-date
Member bills [Motioner]   1990-date    
Committee hearings on bills [Offentliga utskottsutfrågningar]   1996-date    
Interpellations to the Government [Interpellationer]   1996-date    
Answers to interpellations [Svar på interpellationer]   1999-date    
Committee reports [Utskottsbetänkanden]   1990-date 1989-date  
Committee statements of opinions [Yttranden] on bills   1990-date    
Debates [Debatter]   1989-date    
Decisions [Beslut]   1989-date    
Questions to Government for written Answers [Frågor för skriftliga svar]   1996-date    
Written Answers [Skriftliga svar på frågorna]   1996-date    
Minutes of plenary sessions [Protokoll]   1989-date 1989-date  


Swedish Statutory Law on the Internet
Type of Service Online Services (* indicates fee based service)
  Regeringskansliet Rixlex Lagrummet Rättsbanken* Rättsnätet-Notisum
Laws as initially published in the legal gazette [Svensk författningssamling (SFS)] 1998-date   1998-date   1998-date
Consolidated laws in force [Gällande författningar] Continually updated
(Svensk författningssamling text (SFST))
Continually updated
(Svensk författningssamling text (SFST))
  Continually updated Continually updated (Svensk lagsamling)
Superseded laws [Upphävda författningar] 1988-date 1988-date   Continually updated Continually updated


Swedish Administrative Law on the Internet
Type of Sources Online Services (* indicates fee based service)
  Regeringskansliet Rixlex   Rättsbanken Rättsnätet-Notisum
New regulations [Förordningar] as published in the Swedish Legal Gazette [Svensk författningssamling] 1998-date       1998-date
Consolidated regulations in force [Gällande förordningar] Continually updated (Svensk författningssamling text (SFTS)) Continually updated (Svensk författningssamling text (SFTS))   Continually updated Continually updated
Superseded regulations [Upphävda förordningar] 1988-date 1988-date   Continually updated Continually updated
Administrative decisions
[Administrativa avgöranden]
      Coverage varies by issuing body  


Swedish Case Law on the Internet
Court Online Services (* indicates fee based service
  Rättsbanken* Rättsnätet-Notisum*
Supreme Court [Högsta Domstolen] 1960-date 1996-date
Courts of Appeals [Hovrätterna] 1980-date 1994-date
Supreme Administrative Court [Regeringsrätten]   1994-date
Labor Court [Arbetsdomstolen] 1974-date 1994-date
Market Court [Marknadsdomstolen] 1978-date  
Housing Court [Bostadsdomstolen] 1975-1994  


Swedish Treaties on the Internet
Type of Source Online Services
  Lagrummet
Treaty series [Sveriges internationella överenskommelser] 1999-date