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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

You are here: PacLII >> About PacLII >> Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. General

2. PacLII Content

3. Navigation,Search and Research

4. Privacy and Security

5. Terms of Use

6. PacLII - The Organisation

1. General

1.1 I have a legal problem. Can PacLII help me?

No, PacLII is unable to provide legal advice. Any queries regarding points of law should be directed to a legal counsel in the appropriate jurisdiction.


1.2 How can I keep abreast of which materials have recently been published on PacLII?

There is a link to Recent Updates on the PacLII homepage. There is also a link to subscribe to PacLII Net, a monthly email newsletter attaching lists of materials that have been uploaded to the website over the preceding month, plus information on any noteworthy developments.


1.3 Can the font on PacLII be changed on my browser?

Yes. Configure your browser's font to your preference in the browser menu. Consult the help documentation of your browser for instructions.

2. PacLII Content

2.1 How is the information organised on PacLII?

The primary legal materials including case and tribunal decisions, court rules, legislation and official report collections are maintained within separate databases. For each jurisdiction, there is a page for primary materials and a page for secondary materials.


2.2 How do I let you know about an error I found on your site?

Broken links and any errors concerning the content of published material should be reported through PacLII feedback. On the feedback form, select the type of error being reported; include the URL of the page where the broken link or error is located; and a description of the error. Please provide your email address if you would like a response from PacLII concerning your query. The provision of your email address will also enable us to contact you if we require further information to resolve the particular issue.


2.3 Why do you not have a complete collection of material for each jurisdiction?

PacLII is a "work in progress". Progress can be affected, for example, by: (i) intermittent supply of materials by jurisdictions (ii) a backlog of paper materials which need to be digitised by scanning, reformatting and proofing; (iii) poor quality paper copies which require verification with the originating jurisdiction.

If you work for a court, tribunal or office responsible for the dissemination of official public documents and would like to publish on PacLII, please contact us through PacLII feedback for further discussions. If you are a user and have noted that decisions or legislation of a particular jurisdiction are not being published or updated, please contact the relevant court/office and inform them of your interest to see these materials published on PacLII.


2.4 How quickly do you publish recent decisions or legislation in force?

Recent decisions or legislative material are generally published on PacLII two to five days after receiving the document from the issuing authority if it is in a word processed format. There may be delays if there is a large amount of decisions received at one time or if technical problems arise. Documents received in hard copy or a PDF image can take weeks to process.


2.5 Are the documents published on PacLII the authorised version?

Although PacLII publishes legal material with the consent of the court or legislatures, this does not automatically grant 'official' status to these documents. PacLII is primarily a research tool and publishes documents for users' convenience only and cannot provide any guarantees relating to use of the documents it publishes. It is the user's responsibility to always check the official signed version prior to using the document in an official capacity. PacLII has also started providing the scanned PDF versions of judgments and legislation for download, when it is available.


2.6 Do you choose which cases to publish?

No. PacLII publishes all case decisions received from courts and tribunals. It is the decision of the courts and tribunals as to which documents are published on PacLII.


2.7 How can I obtain a case decision or piece of legislation which is not currently on PacLII?

If PacLII does not have a case decision or piece of legislation that you need and it is within the scope of jurisdiction, please feel free to contact us through PacLII feedback and we will endeavor to obtain a copy to publish on the site.


2.8 How should I cite decisions published on PacLII?

Every decision on PacLII has a neutral citation and can be found in the title of the decision. Refer to the Citations page for more information on citing decisions.


2.9 How can I know whether a judgment has been appealed?

In the first instance, try a title search using the Advanced Search form. Use the most distinctive word or words from the case name, e.g. type Mackenzie for Public Prosecutor v Mackenzie. Keep in mind that the case name may have changed or the appeal judgment has not been made available to PacLII. If you cannot find an appeal judgment on PacLII, contact the court in the relevant jurisdiction before relying on the judgment as an authority.


2.10 How can I know which acts are in force and which ones have been repealed?

Unfortunately, PacLII does not have the resources to update the status of every piece of legislation on PacLII as to whether it is "in force" or "repealed". Our aim is to make available all relevant legislation and it is the responsibility of the user to check whether an act or piece of subsidiary legislation is still in force. There are some jurisdictions which provide a consolidated index periodically and can be found on that jurisdiction's legislation indexes page. These may help to identify which legislation is in force up to the date of issue of the index.


2.11 What is the difference between consolidated and sessional legislation?

You will notice that PacLII publishes consolidated and sessional legislation.

Consolidated legislation means consolidating the principal act with all subsequent amendments up to the date of the consolidation. Ideally, acts are consolidated as amendments are passed through parliament however the majority of Pacific Island jurisdictions do not have the resources to be able to do this. As a result, periodic consolidations are undertaken. When a consolidation has been released by a jurisdiction, PacLII aims to publish the entire consolidation and notes the year of the consolidation in the title of the database. Once a consolidation has been published, the act included in this consolidation now becomes the principal act.

Sessional legislation is the numbered acts as passed through parliament. A consolidation is only up to date as of the date of the consolidation and to determine whether there have been any amendments to acts published within a consolidation, users must go through the sessional legislation database to determine whether there have been any further amendments.


2.12 Where is the Pacific Island Treaty Series database previously available on PacLII?

Due to limited resources, PacLII has not been able to maintain the PITS database and has therefore removed the link. Users may still access the content of the database through conducting a search query.


2.13 What is the Pacific Legal Gateway?

The Pacific Legal Gateway is a sister site of PacLII that brings together legal information freely available on the Internet including Pacific Islands legal sources, Pacific Islands secondary resources and legal research tools. The aim of the Gateway is to support online legal research.


2.14 What are Virtual Subject Libraries

A virtual subject library is based on highly complex search queries that skilled experts in the subject area have developed. In each subject library, there are a number of topics with links to cases and legislation on PacLII. When a link is selected, the pre-defined search query is inserted into the SINO search engine and a list of results is returned. This allows any new material that has been added to the website to be automatically included in the results, without the need for manual editing. The link to the Virtual Subject Libraries is located on the PacLII homepage, beneath the jurisdictional database links.


2.15 Can I obtain PacLII databases on CD-ROM/DVD-ROM?

PacLII will provide a limited number of free CD-ROM/DVD-ROMs to public legal and judicial bodies covered under PacLII jurisdictions. Unfortunately, PacLII does not have the resources to offer this service to others. If you require a CD-ROM/DVD-ROM, send a request with your email address to PacLII feedback.

3. Navigation, Search and Research

3.1 Why isn't the search working properly?

One reason may be that common words have been included in your search (see the Common Words List). The SINO search engine removes the common words from the search except if (i) the common words are prefixed with a '+' or '#' character or (ii) are used within a phrase, e.g. "duty of care".

Another reason for a search not working could be incorrect search syntax used for the search type selected. If you are using the Boolean search type, ensure that you only use the correct Boolean search terms and connectors. Also check the spelling of your search terms.

If you have checked all the above and not getting any results, or there is another technical problem with the search, please notify PacLII using PacLII feedback.


3.2 How do I search for material in a particular jurisdiction?

There are two options, 1) go to the Jurisdiction database page and use the search option on that page, or 2) on the advanced search page, select the jurisdiction or database from the list of options.


3.3 How can I find what cases cite a particular judgment?

There are two ways you can determine whether a case published on PacLII has cited a particular judgment. It is recommended that users follow both methods to ensure all cases are included.

The first method, is to open the relevant judgment on PacLII. At the top of the page, click on the [LawCite] link to be directed to a record of the judgment with a listing of all citations associated with that judgment. Be aware that if the citation has not been correctly cited, the case citing the judgment may not appear in the list.

The second method, is to type a distinctive word(s) from the case name into PacLII's advanced search form. Remember to include alternative forms of a company, e.g. Vanuatu Commodities Marketing Board or VCMB. If using more than one word from the case name, include a proximity connector to keep your search terms close together, e.g. Laho w/5 QBE to find Laho Ltd v QBE Insurance (Vanuatu) Ltd.


3.4 How do I find my search term(s) in a document?

When viewing a document found from a search, at the top of the page there will be a link called [context]. Click on this link to go to the first instance of your search term in the document. Click on the up and down arrows next to the search term to navigate through the document to see where else your search terms appear. If you would like to turn off the highlighted words, click [no context].


3.5 How do I print documents without my search terms highlighted?

You can print the page displayed on your browser without the search terms highlighted by turning the highlight option off. To do this, click the [no context] button at the top of the page. You can also print the word version, or the PDF version if available, by following the instructions in Q 3.6.


3.6 How do I download a case decision or a piece of legislation?

Where available, use either the [Download] link at the top of the page to download the "RTF" format of the document, or the [Download original PDF] to download the original copy of the document in PDF.


3.7 Does PacLII provide research services?

No, PacLII is unable to provide research services at this time.

4. Privacy and Security

4.1 Do you retrieve personal data on users of the PacLII site?

No. PacLII only logs anonymous and non-identifying data on visits such as host address, time of access, exact request, response status code, size of data transmitted, HTTP referrer (where you were last), browser version and operating system. This information is collected for a number of reasons, including research, development, security, maintenance and for statistics generation.

The bottom line is this: PacLII never publishes any data that could identify any individual user, what searches they made or what documents they accessed. See the privacy policy for more information on the Privacy Policy page.


4.2 You have published a case that involves me. Can I have the case deleted from the website or have my name removed from it?

Generally, no. Publication of case law ensures the openness of the judicial system, judicial independence, and maintaining public confidence in the justice system. PacLII publishes cases as supplied directly by the courts in the South Pacific region and is only one of the mechanisms by which courts and tribunals publish their decisions. Many cases are also reported in a number of law report series and court websites. It is the responsibility of the courts to ensure that cases on PacLII comply with any court imposed restrictions in relation to names and other identifying data for specific situations, e.g. sexual offences, and juveniles.

In order to minimise the impact of a person's privacy mentioned in a decision, PacLII does not allow external web robots to index decisions published on its site. This reduces the risk of people finding a decision on PacLII by querying an individual's name using a web search engine, for example Google.

If you still believe that that the decision should be edited or removed from PacLII, contact the originating court for it to determine whether to modify the decision or to withdraw the case from the site. PacLII will comply with any instructions issues and will either replace with an edited version received from the court or remove the document entirely from the site.


4.3 Why are case decisions on PacLII not accessible using Google or other search engines?

Please see question 4.1 re privacy issues.

Another reason PacLII does not allow indexing of its cases by web search engines is that if a case needs to be removed from PacLII for any reason, this is more difficult once the judgment has been indexed by a search engine.


4.4 How do I know that somebody hasn't broken into the site and changed the law?

Although it's theoretically possible that this might happen, it is extremely unlikely. PacLII takes numerous steps to verify the content of its website and in fact validating our documents is the single biggest task we perform on any given day. We take the security and integrity of our site very seriously. We limit access to our public server computers, such that no individual has access to all of them. Documents are published using verified, automated software processes that integrate state-of-the-art encryption and verification technologies.

In the very unlikely case that someone did manage to change the wording of a law, their changes would almost certainly be undone within 24 hours, because PacLII constantly refreshes its public site from a secure location. However, it is the user's responsibility to always check the official signed version prior to using the document in an official capacity.

5. Terms of Use

5.1 May I create a hypertext link to PacLII?

Yes, PacLII welcomes links to the PacLII home page or individual documents as long as it is clear that the document linked to is located on the PacLII site. Please refer to our linking policy on the Linking Policy page for more information.


5.2 What are the copyright restrictions for reproducing or downloading documents?

Refer to our copyright policy on the Copyright Policy page. Essentially, PacLII encourages free access to the law and allows reproduction, printing and distribution of the legal documents avai able on PacLII for personal use only.

PacLII is not the copyright owner in the source documents published on its site and permission by the relevant copyright holder(s) has been received for those documents to be published. Value-added content and services added to source documents by PacLII are subject to copyright and not freely available. If you cannot find an answer to your issue within the copyright policy, please send your query to PacLII feedback.

6. PacLII - The Organisation

6.1 What is PacLII?

The Pacific Islands Legal Information Institute (PacLII) is a signatory member of the worldwide Free Access to Law Movement and in partnership with AustLII and the University of the South Pacific, promotes free access to Pacific Islands legal material via the Internet. See the About PacLII page for further information on the history and services of PacLII.


6.2 How can I contact somebody at PacLII?

Use PacLII feedback page to contact PacLII. There are links to the feedback page on most pages of PacLII and unless in special circumstances, PacLII will respond to feedback within 24 hours during a working week, provided that an email address has been included in the form.


6.3 How can I find out what PacLII is up to?

Subscribe to the PacLIINet mailing list from the PacLII homepage. Approximately once a month a newsletter is sent via email listing new additions to the website as well as any news, announcements and updates regarding PacLII.


6.4 How is PacLII funded?

PacLII was established using funding from a number of different sources but predominantly from the University of the South Pacific, AusAID and NZAID. See the PacLII funding page for a list of hose who have previously helped PacLII. Currently PacLII is underwritten by the University of the South Pacific.


6.5 What software does PacLII use?

The majority of software running the PacLII service was created by Professor Andrew Mowbray, co-director of AustLII. This includes the software used for the automatic mark-up of the HTML documents, the SINO search engine and the case citator, LawCite. Wherever possible, PacLII uses Free and Open Source Software. We believe that this is not only in keeping with our commitment to Free Access to Law, but that open source software keeps cost down while providing the best quality software available today.


6.6 How can I help PacLII?

There are many ways you can help to continue the services provided by PacLII:



6.7 Is it true that PacLII has lost funding and might stop operating?

The previous funding agreement between PacLII the Australian Government came to an end in June 2016. A further funding agreement covering the period of July 1 2016 - June 30 - 2018 has been entered into with the Australian Government. Other funding sources are also being explored. In July 2016 PacLII did restructure, and has lost some staff. It is continuing to operate however and new material is constantly being added. (FAQ Updated 20 May 2017.)

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