RSS on the Scottish Courts website judgements database
The blog of Jonathan Mitchell QC for 30 August 2008 usefully draws attention to the Scottish Courts website's adoption of an RSS feed system on its judgements database, which will at last make it slightly easier to keep electronically abreast of the doings of our courts.
Those who don't know what RSS is should consult Jonathan's blog (and note that you can get an RSS service from Scots Law News – look at the top right of the page for an orange blob and click thereon).
As Jonathan rightly points, by itself RSS is not enough for users of the court website. What it does for the moment is simply give you the case names as links to the full text of the various court opinions as they appear on the site. What is also needed (and provided on many other court websites – all, Scots Law News thinks, outside the UK – the South African Constitutional Court is an especially good example) is a brief indication of the subject-matter of the case in the fashion of the digest headings that appear at the start of formal law reports and also in indexes thereto. Even the House of Lords (and presumably in the fullness of time the replacement UK Supreme Court) gives subscribers email alerts when speeches are published.
There have been heroic individual attempts to fill the blatant gap in Scottish courts' services: the Case Check service (although Edinburgh University's filters determinedly "spam" its emails, at least to this subscriber) and Jonathan Mitchell's own weekly update. But it would be good if the Scottish judgements database – which was a leader in the field when set up in the late 1990s – could be got up to the level of sophistication which most lawyers would now take for granted from other current information and intelligence sources.