Specialist Legal Research Services Online - Bath Publishing

Bath Publishing

Note: This entry was provided by David Chaplin of Bath Publishing for the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers September/October issue, 2013. One particular aspect of the article was the relationship of the company with BAILII and legislation.gov.uk. The Editor of the overall article, called Keeping up to date with the law, was Nick Holmes.

Bath Publishing was founded in 2004. We currently run two legal update sites: Employment Cases Update on our own behalf and Family Law Hub in a venture with Class Legal, Mills & Reeve and 29 Bedford Row.

We also set up and ran Family Law Week for a good number of years (it is now published by Law Week Publishing).

All this means we have long expertise in working alongside the open sources of information and adding our own content on top of them.

We regularly link to BAILII and — with some hesitation — to legislation.co.uk. The existence of these two services was a pre-requisite for launching our services as they provide a means to refer users to primary sources so we can at least make a mark against the larger publishers and their proprietorial databases.

Of course, legislation.gov has many flaws — not the least of them being that integration of amendments is inconsistent — but a link there is an improvement on nothing.

On a wider view, I am appalled that we still have to accept these flaws. Providing access to an accurate source of UK law should be seen as a cornerstone of our democracy even more now that many more people will be representing themselves in court. The complexity of our law-making process may have something to do with it so maybe this is a wider issue than the mere publishing budget. For us, the importance of BAILII is more than a database we can link to; it is also a good reliable source of new judgments we can report. The other source we use regularly is the EAT judgments page. This is certainly a site that could do with some work — searching is difficult as the text of the judgments is not indexed.

Both Employment Cases Update and Family Law Hub are a combination of free and paid-for material. An important factor in deciding what we charge for is whether that content is freely available elsewhere: judgments tend to be free to view whereas articles and training resources will be protected. Of course providing some free content allows us to get readers on to the site in the first place and is viewed as part of the marketing costs.

We publish across most formats (except for an app so far), as I see them as all part of the same thing. The website provides the core material that we then disseminate via email, Twitter and RSS. This way readers can use our sites in whichever way they prefer. We use blogs as an adaptable way to supplement the core content perhaps for a specific topic. For example, we have just launched a blog running alongside the Family Law Hub which will countdown to the launch of the single family court (www.singlefamilycourt.co.uk). And of course there are many sites out there that have deployed blogging software to run comprehensive update services so for me the dividing line is not that great anyway. It is the content itself that makes the crucial difference.

David Chaplin is Managing Director of Bath Publishing Limited.
Email: david.chaplin@bathpublishing.co.uk.

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