Once a month, Robeside Assistance will feature a resource that we purchase for the library that you might not know we have. Our collection is full of great books, databases, programs, and other materials, so definitely visit us in the library if you’d like to use anything mentioned here!

This month we want to feature one of the online products available for use on the library computers, so we’re spotlighting JustisOne. If you haven’t used this before, prepare to be wowed.

Before subscribing to JustisOne, our ability to search through British case law was restricted to what was freely available on BAILII. We have British law reports dating back several hundred years, but they’re in paper format and that’s no way to research case law anymore. When we took a spin through JustisOne, we were super impressed with the clean design, the great research tools, and how innovative it is and different than other products on the market. In order to keep this post to a reasonable length, here are three of our favourite features (click on any of the pictures to make them bigger):

1. Key Paragraphs / Heatmapping

Paragraph Citing View

This feature is one both Brenda and I think is downright awesome. When you’re reviewing a decision on JustisOne, paragraphs that are highlighted in pink mean that those excerpts have been used in subsequent decisions. The most crucial of those paragraphs will be listed in the left pane – those are the “key paragraphs.” On the right hand side, where the actual text of the decision is, the darker the pink highlighting, the more cases that will have quoted that passage. You can click on the highlighted paragraph and open up the list of citing cases (and then click over to those cases to read those as well).

2. Citations in Context

Cited Cases View

On the flip side, if you want to see how a case you’re reading treats other decisions, you can click on the “Cited Cases” tab on the left panel, and bring up a list of cases that this decision cites. They’re organized by treatment (approved, overruled, etc.), and by clicking on the rectangular box next to the case name, you can highlight and scroll through your decision on the right to see where this case was discussed specifically. In the above example, George v. Skivington (what a name!) is approved by the Mcalister decision. By clicking on the box that says “20” (meaning 20 references), the references are highlighted in the Mcalister decision in the right panel. You can move through the document to read them using the arrows in the yellow box atop the decision.

3. The Precedent Map

Precedent Map - All Cases

We’re picking the precedent map feature as our final top 3 because it is so cool and graphic. The precedent map will show you cases that your decision both cites and is cited by, and the relationship between these cases. In the picture above, you can see the basic, all-in precedent map for Mcaslister. That’s a lot of cases! Think of the Mcalister case as the giant circle in the middle. Cases that Mcalister cites are bubbles inside the circle, and cases that cite Mcalister are bubbles on the outside.

Precedent Map - Positive Cases Only

Now, I’ve just narrowed it to positive cases. Oh hey, there’s George v. Skivington in the centre! You can see all those little green lines pointing back down to the massive Mcalister circle; that’s because this is showing the relationship that all those cases have to Mcalister, which is that they all treat it positively. Cases around the outside of our decision of interest are arranged chronologically.

Precedent Map - Relationship of One Citing Case

And finally, I’ve now selected one of the bigger outside circles. The bigger the circle, the more cases it has it common with your original decision.

So these are just three of the features we really like. This doesn’t even get into the nice searching by subject area, which obviously means you should swing by the library and try it out for yourself. JustisOne does have some Canadian content as well, so even if you’re not researching UK case law specifically, this can be useful if (for example) you’re expanding your search to see how Canadian decisions have been handled in other jurisdictions. We hope you like this database as much as we do – let us know any feedback you have on the product!


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