PacLII stands for the Pacific Islands Legal Information Institute. It is an initiative of the University of the South Pacific School of Law with assistance from AustLII. PacLII is a signatory to the Montreal Declaration on Public Access to Law and participates in the Free Access to Law movement, (FALM) a grouping of a number of world wide organizations committed to publishing and providing access to the law for free. PacLII is based at the Emalus Campus of the USP in Port Vila, Vanuatu.
On 5 September 2023, the PacLII Summit was held in Port Vila, Vanuatu and attended by representatives of governments, courts, non-government organisations, law societies and others from eleven Pacific Island jurisdictions, Australia and New Zealand. The Vanuatu Declaration was adopted at the conclusion of the meeting.
USP School of Law is based in Port Vila and has students located across 12 countries of the Pacific who do not have easy access to the legal materials from across the region which they need to undertake their studies. PacLII was started by the School of Law as a means to overcoming the tyrannies of distance. It has grown to become a service to governments, legal professionals, NGOs, students, academics and members of the public and has been widely recognized as an example of excellence in promoting access to legal information.
PacLII collects and publishes legal materials from 20 Pacific Islands Countries on its website www.paclii.org which is hosted by AustLII. These countries are American Samoa, Cook Islands, Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Guam, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, New Caledonia, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Pitcairn Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
The materials consist mainly of primary materials such as court decisions and legislation but also include decisions of various tribunals, panels, Ombudsmens reports or secondary information such as court rules or bench books. PacLII is now seeking to expand its collections to include law related materials such as subject specific papers and reports. PacLII is also developing a series of subject specific libraries utilising predetermined search technology. An Intellectual Property and a Maritime Law Library have been created and more are planned. A number of Pacific Islands Treaties are also available but direct access to the database has been suspended due to a current lack of capacity.
It is the functionality of the website which sets it apart from standard 'silo' websites and is truly fully interconnected with the web. PacLII utilises the SINO search engine and automated "markup" software to insert hypertext links, both developed by AustLII This enables the user to search across the published material on a regional basis and by database type without conducting a separate search of each country. Users are also allowed to leap from one document referred to in another by virtue of the hyperlink, without the need to exit the database and proceed to another. Materials published on PacLII are also available on the free legal case citator, LawCite, as well as CommonLII and WorldLII.
PacLII's sister site the Pacific Legal Gateway, accessible through the main site, provides links to a comprehensive range of other websites of particular use in legal research relevant to the pacific region.
PacLII has important advocacy and training roles. It conducts training sessions with students, legal professionals and others assisting them in not only learning how to access the internet but how to use the SINO search engine to refine their legal searches and maximise their results. It also works closely with law agencies in the different jurisdictions to improve the flow of legal information for free online publication.
Users should be aware that PacLII databases may not be regarded as complete. The processes of collecting materials are ongoing and reliance is currently placed on individual law agencies forwarding materials to PacLII for online publication. If material you are looking for does not appear on the website you should either contact the staff at PacLII through the feedback page and they will endeavour to track the document you are looking for or contact the relevant law agency within the country in question.
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