Courts and sparks

International Journal of Law and Information Technology
October 20, 1995

This journal first appeared in spring 1993. It has two general editors, Christopher Millard and Richard Susskind, and one managing editor, Chris Reed. The skills, background and occupations of these three give some idea of the scope and focus of the journal.

Chris Millard is primarily a practitioner in a leading London firm of solicitors, chairs one of the largest international organisations in the field of the law relating to computers, and teaches parttime at a university. His speciality is the law relating to computers. Richard Susskind is also a practitioner with a leading London law firm, but his interests have been more in the application of computer technology to law, especially artificial intelligence techniques. He is a past chairman of the largest British organisation dealing with the relationship between computers and law, and he too is a part-time university teacher. Chris Reed is a fulltime academic, and has specialised in the interaction of computers and commercial law, as well as editing one of the leading textbooks in the field of computers and law.

Other specialised editors hail from Norway, the United States and Australia. Diversity is further ensured by an editorial board drawing its members from Japan, Singapore, Canada, Italy and Belgium.

Each issue contains five or six self-contained articles, averaging around 8,000 words each in length, together perhaps with an extended book review. The articles aim to be original, and not merely be reproductions of what has appeared under a different title elsewhere, though in the age of the word processor the recycling of academic work is rife, and near-undetectable without considerable effort and expertise.

The journal appears to be aimed at an academic market. The articles are generally too specialised for the complete ingenue, and, insofar as they deal with the law relating to computers, address themselves to those familiar with the techniques and resources appropriate to legal argument.

To date the journal has reflected the overall catholicity of its constitution, so there have been no special numbers dealing with particular issues or jurisdictions to the exclusion of all else. If it were to secure a professional market it would be necessary to increase the coverage of more practical legal problems related to computers in a more "black-lettered" way. This may, however, indicate a way in which the journal could develop since there is now an increasing number of practical legal issues where the detail of the law of several jurisdictions needs to be considered, together with the relevant international provisions which govern their interaction. It is an area for which the editors, and especially the managing editor, seem to be well suited, and which is not at present catered for at all.

The journal is very well produced. It is to be hoped that it will succeed since there is no other with quite the same coverage or pedigree. It is perhaps most similar to the Journal of Law and Information Science, which hails from Tasmania. US journals, of which the most comparable in terms of standard and format is probably the John Marshall Journal of Computer and Information Law, tend to be more parochial, and, in the local tradition, contain a substantial student contribution.

Colin Tapper is professor of law, Magdalen College, Oxford.

International Journal of Law and Information Technology

Editor - Chris Reed
ISBN - ISSN 0967 0769
Publisher - Oxford University Press
Price - £95.00 (nonacademic inst.), £65.00. (academic inst.), £35.00 (indiv.)
Pages - Three issues a year

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