Tuesday, April 01, 2008

New Canadian Case Law System "BestCase" Launches Today

It may be April Fool's, but this is no joke: Canada's fourth online case law system, BestCase from Canada Law Book, officially launches today.

Late last year Canada Law Book met with law librarians across the country to introduce the idea and get feedback. They were keen to create a system that is cost effective, easy to use, and meets the needs of their customers. Law firms have recently been beta-testing the system, and today it opens up to everyone. I haven't seen it myself, but Simon Chester has, and he wrote about it yesterday on Slaw.ca in BestCase Born Today. From the sounds of it, Canada Law Book has succeeded in meeting their goals.

I know some of my colleagues were not happy when Canada Law Book and LexisNexis announced their parting of ways. Having yet one more place to conduct research is frustrating. But, let's flip that frustration on its end: for years we have grumbled that the other big publishers have the industry sewn up, and have things priced too high. But, we felt it necessary to purchase products from both so felt there was no choice.

Now we finally have one more case law system. Hurray!--that introduces more competition for the others. This will hopefully make the others look at their pricing.

And while librarians will probably object that to do thorough research we now need to search in all four places, in practicality lawyers and students doing the research are going to start to choose. Which are their favourite two systems? Which two will give the most coverage? If one becomes a clear favourite, that is going to put pressure on the others. Already a lot of people are jumping to CanLII first to start their initial research. How will this new Canada Law Book twist affect things?

So, my attitude is wait-and-see. This will likely not be the final stop in our national case law journey. And, if they get favourable feedback, who knows what Canada Law Book will do next? Having alternatives is a good thing. No kidding.

Have you tried the new BestCase? I would love to hear your feedback here--I encourage you to post your comments!

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