The website review bows out with the author's personal favourites in the Scottish legal world
This is my last website review and therefore you, dear reader, will have to fend for yourself in cyberspace from now on. With that in mind, I tried to think about which sites in Scots law were the most indispensable, the most useful, the ones I just couldn’t do without. To put it another way, if I were stuck on a desert island and could only take five websites with me, these are the five I’d take.
British and Irish Legal Information Institute
BAILII is essentially a repository of and search engine for all the free legal information in the UK & Ireland. While there is nothing which could not be found elsewhere, it is often easier to find on BAILII. For example, the case search function is better than on the Scottish Court Service website.
Offering only free legal information, it suffers from the same drawbacks as the sites it draws from. So the legislation is not as up-to-date as you would expect from a subscription based service, to give one instance.
The focus is firmly on function with this site, and it is really not much to look at – which is no real problem, other than when printing out cases to use as authorities. Not that paid-for services fare much better in this regard.
I note that the site is under financial pressures which ultimately threaten its continued operation. You will find an appeal for donations from law firms, chambers and others in order to fill the funding gap the site is experiencing. It is a valuable resource and well worth saving. For more information see www.bailii.org/bailii/appeal.html, or follow the link from the front page.
Scottish Court Service
Having just stated that the case search function is better at BAILII, why does the SCS website still make it into the Top 5? There are a number of helpful functions which I use frequently.
First, the gazetteer (www.scotcourts.gov.uk/sheriff/gazetteer.asp) is invaluable when trying to work out which sheriff court a case should be brought in. Simply type in a town or village name and the site returns the relevant court and sheriffdom – it works even for very small villages too.
Then there are the searchable rolls of court (www.scotcourts.gov.uk/rolls/), which allow you to double-check when a case is calling and how many others are calling alongside it.
The SCS site is the first place to look for court rules, including court forms in Word format (allowing easy completion and editing). Find them at www.scotcourts.gov.uk/library/rules/.
Finally, the individual pages for each court are packed with useful practical information, like what bus gets you to court, what the building looks like, and where you can get a nice cup of tea nearby.
Law Society of Scotland
The Law Society of Scotland’s website is perhaps an obvious candidate for inclusion here, but I use it most often not for information on the Society, or latest developments in the profession, but as a telephone directory.
The “find a solicitor” function (click from the home page) allows the user to search firms by area of practice and solicitors by accredited specialism – which is great when referring a caller on to another firm. It is also an easy way to get the telephone number and other details for specific solicitors.
The A-Z of rules and guidance is fairly useful too, although I still think it could be better organised.
Faculty of Advocates
This is obviously of most use when you want to instruct counsel. While most stables now have their own websites (the Murray Stable site being a particularly good example: www.murraystable.com), this is the one which brings all (or most) of that information together and, for that reason, remains in the Top 5.
Absolvitor: Scots Law Online
You will, I hope, forgive one final manifestation of the bad habit I have of plugging my own website. In all seriousness, a portal of Scots law links should be in any Scots lawyer’s list of indispensable sites and you may as well use this one as any other. In addition to a (reasonably) regular blog and directory of Scottish law firms, you’ll find all (or most) of the links featured in this column since I took over from Derek O’Carroll back in September 2003. My thanks go to him for recommending me as web reviewer, and to you, for reading .
- It was felt that with most lawyers now familiar with the web, the review has served its purpose, but we are very grateful to Iain for his service over the years – Editor
The website review column is written by Iain A Nisbet of Govan Law Centre
All of these links and hundreds more can be found at www.absolvitor.com . Absolvitor is also now on Facebook: http://bit.ly/absolvitor