Welcome to eJudgements – South African Online Law Reports
eJudgements is a unique way of presenting Court Judgements, currently focusing on the Superior Courts in South Africa.
With the change to the digital age, the traditional law reporting model has not adapted. Whereas the Law Reports produced by the commercial publishers held a monopoly on what was accessible to the legal profession (and anyone who wanted access to Court judgements) because it was simply not possible to access judgements other than obtaining them directly from the registrars of the different Courts, that changed with many of the Courts having their own websites (for example, the Constitutional Court, Supreme Court of Appeal, and the Labour Court). With the advent of Saflii, access to the law was advanced immeasurably.
But the benefit of the digital age is also its downfall – there is just too much information to be able to sift through quickly and easily to find the definitive answer. A library, without an indexing system, is just a pile of books. So too, the internet.
That is what eJudgements seeks to address: Making sense of a mass of information.
A Google search including Saflii, or any of the other sites, will produce results, but they still need to be sifted and if the search criteria are not exact, they will miss what could be a crucial case.
We don’t have all the judgements, but then a comparison between Juta, Lexis and Saflii will show that there is no publisher or website in South Africa which does have access to all the judgements.
Here are some screenshots of what we do:
The home page includes a list of recently added cases:
Where we have the judgement of the Court a quo, we list whether it has been confirmed on appeal
Or overturned on appeal
The Judgements Library contains a list of all the cases, with the option to filter by a number of criteria:
For example: A filter for judgements by Theron J:
Or where the Judge has dissented, eg Jafta J in the Constitutional Court:
Filters by Subject are also possible:
A search can also be done, which will give a list of cases which mee the criteria, this includes possible refinements which will narrow down the search
The same search as above, but refined by the subject matter “Labour”
See for yourself what we can do:
eJudgements not only makes use of the extremely powerful Sharepoint search functionality, but cases are also being tagged to enable searches to be refined (eg according to subject matter, Court, even counsel who appeared in the case).
eJudgements is cloud-based, so you are not tied to your desk. As long as you have an internet connection, you have access.
Often a judgement will need to deal with the meaning of a word or a phrase. This will not be earth-shattering law, but it will certainly assist a researcher who needs guidance on what a word or phrase can be interpreted to mean. This would never make the index of the printed law reports, but we tag the judgement in any event. It is amazing how many simple words have had to be interpreted by the courts. We try to make it easy to find those cases.
We have made some recent improvements, one of which is the introduction of synonyms to the tags we add to judgements. So, for example, if you search for “Constitution of the Republic of South Africa s 172” you will find the same result by searching for “Constitution s 172”. Likewise in the Subject Index, where there are two possible index entries which are similar, instead of adding both in separate place with the added burdens that adds to a search, we will use the main term and add any other likely ones as synonyms. That means that no matter which one you use, you get the same result. It means that we are not limiting the user to our categorisation, as the search will yield the same result.
As always, if the users feel there is an additional term or phrase we should use, we will add it.