Week 10: International Law: UK, NZ and Canada
This week has been interesting as I have finally had a chance to look at legislation outside of Australia. We looked at the different tools and sources for legislation and case law in the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Canada. I could start rattling off the list of all the different sites you could go to, but that isn’t really relevant, and can be seen in the exercises for the week. Plus you can probably find all of them in a minute or two in any internet search engine!
In general, the process is now the same for all three jurisdictions. There is an authoritative site you can go to for the legislation. Then there is the parliamentary website where you can access the Hansard and explanatory material for the legislation. Then there is a court website which you can go to find cases that have been decided. And there is a Legal Information Institute website you can go to find both legislation and case law – whilst not authoritative, it is a good starting place. And once you know this process, it is a fairly easy task to find a piece of legislation that you are interested in, even if you don’t know what it is called! And if you aren’t sure there, you can probably Google using the keywords to get you started.
For the most part, each jurisdiction has a similar citation style, with Canada and the UK having chapter references, whereas Australia and New Zealand don’t. Each jurisdiction had an excellent online legislation presence, each with their own unique benefits. I liked New Zealand legislation website’s interface – you had access to information about amendments at a glance via a tab at the top of the screen, plus it showed you the table of contents of the act as a series of links you could click, or view the whole act via another tab. The United Kingdom legislation website was good as it warned you that amendments had not been incorporated into the version of the act you are looking at, and it also had annotations to indicate when the legislation commenced. The Canadian legislation (Justice Laws) website had a handy pop-out table of contents on the right side so you didn’t have to keep going back if you wanted to navigate their legislation. Also, if a section had been repealed, there was a link next to the heading so you could go back to see what the repealed section was, and when it had effect.
This weeks material was very interesting, and challenging at times when trying to find information from the different jurisdictions. Also putting a dampener on things is that some of the information sites listed in the textbook no longer exist, and some others are unavailable due to their subscription nature. Having said that, I have found enough sources that would allow me to be confident that I could find a piece of legislation that related to a legal issue in another jurisdiction within a reasonable period of time without an extraordinary amount of effort! I now also have an idea as to how to find cases in Australia that incorporate judicial decisions from other jurisdictions, thanks to Barnet Jade!