How Does eJudgements Work?
eJudgements is hosted on a SharePoint site, which is cloud-based. Therefore it is accessible from everywhere and at anytime. It also means there is no need to download any additional software. SharePoint uses multiple servers, so that if one is offline the remaining ones take over, and it is extremely secure. So eJudgements’ South African Online Law Reports will always be available provided you have internet access and any internet browser. This means that it is accessible from any computer, tablet or smartphone.
All judgements are in Pdf format. Regardless of the format in which they are received, all judgements are converted to Pdf format. This means they are all in a standard format, but also not as easy to alter. They can be downloaded and used offline. There is no limitation on the number of times a judgement can be downloaded. Nor is there a limit to the number which can be downloaded.
Because we use the Pdf format individual pages of judgements can be used without any disadvantages (for example, losing footnotes) that html or other formats have.
Because only the judgements database is searched, you won’t get a lot of extraneous search results from other websites or products.
While the database covers judgements from the mid-1990s, it is apparent from the pattern of which judgements are referred to that most of the law used in the courts emanates from the past 25 years. It is only in very specialist areas that older cases are still used on a regular basis.
How Does It Actually Work
There are two ways to find relevant cases in the eJudgements’ database, via the eJudgements Search page or via the eJudgements Library.
Using the Search Function
Users will be taken to a search screen, where they can add a basic search query (for example: exception non adimpleti contractus).
A search can be refined on the Advanced Search screen.
The search will generate a Search Results page, listing all the judgements which meet the criteria. By hovering over an entry, the user can see a preview of the judgement in the pop up screen on the right.
If the user is using Internet Explorer, by clicking on the file name, the judgement will open in a PDF reader, where the search criteria will be carried through, making it possible to find the search criteria in the actual text (this feature does not work with Google Chrome for technical reasons).
At the bottom of the Search Results page, the user can see how many results have been generated. The Advanced Search feature can then be chosen to modify the search criteria
A user can also set an alert to be informed when a new judgement is loaded which meets the search criteria
Results can further be refined by choosing one of the options on the side of the Search Results page.
Using the Judgements Library
In the Judgements Library views the user can see the list of cases, the type of case, the outcome, any further appeals, names of Judges, counsel, attorneys, etc.
There are various different views which will display the data relevant to that view (for technical reasons it is not possible to display all the tags applicable to a case, as it will retard performance too much).
Use the Judgements Library if you know exactly what you are searching for – eg all cases tagged with the Prescription Act, or counsel tagged as Smith, etc. Judgements can be filter via many different filters: eg Constitutional Court + Cases after 1 January 2019, or SCA + Navsa JA + Prescription.