CyECLI is a University of Cyprus legal information research project, co-funded by the European Union.
The objective of CyECLI is the study and implementation of the adoption in Cyprus of the European Case Law Identifier (ECLI).
The University of Cyprus is joined, in the CyECLI consortium, by the Supreme Court of Cyprus, the Cyprus Bar Association and the Cyprus Legal Information Research Institute.
CyECLI has aimed to contribute to the quest for more effective and efficient access to national case law from all Member States is growing within the European Union, by promoting the objectives embodied by the European Case Law Identifier in the context of Cyprus.
Accessibility of case law is of paramount importance for the European area of freedom, security and justice. It facilitates the scrutiny of justice, contributes to the transparency of the judiciary and thereby contributes to upholding the rule of law. Judges have to be aware of EU-related decisions taken by colleagues in other Member States to actively play their role in upholding and developing the common legal order (including the notion of the ‘the national judge as first judge of Community law ). Lawyers require more knowledge about actual jurisprudential developments in other EU Member States because of the deepening of the internal market and the growing number of cross-border procedures. Likewise, legal researchers, scholars and policymakers work with a growing volume of case law for their law studies. Empirically speaking, searching for, and citing case law is quite burdensome day-to- day problems for jurists and practitioners.
The ECLI system enables cross-border access to national case law. Its ‘one- search interface’ of the ECLI system allows users to work with merely one identifier; hence this suffices so to find all occurrences of the ruling in all participating national and cross border databases. But in order to achieve this, it is imperative that the Member States' national legal systems have embraced a culture of legal information, especially with regard to case law, and standardised such legal information. Standardisation of court references and a culture of metadata is a precondition for optimising access to national legal information, fostering a culture of open information and eventually of interconnection with the other Member States.
In this context, Cyprus offers a unique case. It is a mixed jurisdiction where case law constitutes a source of law, indeed a primary source and has inherited an English tradition of appellate court reporting. At the same time, much legal information was obscured until recently. Open-access legal information has remedied this in part but there was little standardisation of references and no notion of metadata in that regard. Legal information systems in and relative to Cyprus do not embody coding relative to the metadata. There was moreover no correct and unequivocal system of citation in court judgments, legal documents and legal writings in Cyprus.
CyECLI constitutes the Cypriot response to the official ‘invitation’ of the Council of the EU for the introduction of the European Case Law Identifier (ECLI) and a minimum set of uniform metadata in the case law. The legal and technical work undertaken would lay the ground for an open-access new system that will be fully interconnected with the e-Justice Portal, with relevant metadata will be incorporated and used much more effectively. The use of ECLI in all legal and academic writings would also foster better use of case law and legal authorities in Cyprus and abroad and even allow linkages between Continental and common-law traditions. The implementation of ECLI in a manner that added value to the existing traditions would also minimise problems arising out of the use of – not always necessary – personal data in citations. This constitutes an immediate and lasting, ad hoc improvement in the science and practice of law; this will also facilitate access and efficient consultation of sources, especially case law, from other Member States and of course at the EU level.
The concrete objectives of CyECLI project were the following:
- prepare an optimal standard for the implementation of the European Case Law Identifier in Cyprus, that strikes a balance between the unique characteristics of the Cyprus legal system and the objectives of facilitating an EU-wide circulation and homogenization of legal information.
- achieve maximum coverage of Cyprus case law by the ECLI standards, i.e. including trial courts as well as the appellate court and expanding backwards in time to encompass, on a first stage, all unreported published decisions and, eventually, all legacy decisions going back to the earliest reported cases of the Supreme Court since independence (1960) and possibly since its creation (1883)
- create a homogeneous database of Cyprus case law that can be searchable, thus promoting legal research and evaluation of case law for doctrinal and scholarly purposes.
- create a system of metadata, following the ECLI guidelines, that can be practicable in the Cyprus context
- foster a culture of legal information and support initiatives for open access of especially legal authorities, such as case law and legislation.
- support the automation of the collection and processing of case law by the court and into legal databases
- foster a culture of editing and standardisation