Questions and answers
1. What’s the problem in legal search today?
Belgian citizens and businesses lack access to relevant sources of law. They lack a simple tool to search in legislation and case law via one unique portal in "full text" mode. Only for these reasons the platform lex.be is already unique in Belgium.
Currently there is no single database that contains all judgments in Belgium. In other words, it is in Belgium anno 2016 not possible to get an accurate and complete picture of the state of case law in a particular matter.
On the other hand, the market for legal services is fundamentally changing. This evolution originates from from the US and the UK. New players are entering the market, the typical delivery model is put into question and traditional litigation loses importance. Combined with an oversupply of providers, this leads to a downward pressure on rates and costs. The traditional lawyer will have to reinvent himself/herself.
With the advent of advanced technology also the jurisprudence as we know it today will be overhauled: the model of publishers with an editorial team will become obsolete.
Today’s Belgian legal world is on the verge of an important and challenging reshape. On thing is for sure: lex.be will thoroughly disrupt the traditional legal landscape.
2. How does the solution proposed by lex.be look like?
Lex.be has built an innovative platform around authentic legal data that are currently open to the public. Our team has indexed all datasets, developed algorithms to extract structured data, and built a powerful engine to search in full text mode. That means that the user will be able to intuitively search on all words that appear in documents, such as Google.
In addition to the basic free search engine lex.be also offers various added value features. These services will allow the government, citizens, businesses and service providers to find information which otherwise would not be retrieved, to propose innovative solutions, and to work more efficiently.
3. How does it work?
Lex.be has developed a low entry platform to easily find free of charge relevant Belgian legislation and case law through one unique interface.
The lex.be database is updated every day.
All the user needs to do is entering relevant keywords in the search bar on lex.be and our search engine will do the rest in a fraction of time. In addition, the user can sort data by most relevant ("best match") or most recent first. To filter larges volumes of data, we offer filters such as document type, date, and relevant words. Finally, metadata are proposed to reference information.
4. From what sources does lex.be use today?
Today, the lex.be database contains all acts and regulations published in the Belgian Official Gazette (1.7 M documents) and all decisions of the courts under the jurisdiction of the Federal Service Justice as Supreme Court, Court of Appeals and lower courts such as Labour Court and Commercial Court (over 150,000 documents).
It is our intention to complete the number of sources of law in the near future.
5. What is our mission?
We want to strengthen democracy by enhancing transparency and providing all citizens easy and quick access to legal data through the use of innovative technology.
6. What are the advantages lex.be?
With lex.be the legal industry will usher in the new legal era 2.0.
More than one million pieces of regulation and more than 150,000 court rulings are free accessible today in a single location via a simple search engine. Our database and search engine are unmatched in Belgium.
Our platform will assist courts in developing a solid legal basis for decisions at a lower cost. Lex.be gives legal service providers the opportunity to easily find relevant legal data, and to convert these data into new legal insights. Our range of powerful tools will greatly increase the efficiency of the legal service provider and eventually change his/her way of working.
7. Is lex.be free of charge?
We offer the service on the basis of a "freemium" model: that means that the basic information will be accessible free of charge for the citizen or business that makes sporadic use of our search tool.
For value-added services the user will be able to purchase a subscription. These services include i.a. advanced search filters, creating a file, saving a search, personalization, export to PDF, or receive notification when new information becomes available about previous searches.
8. What is lex.be advocating for?
Lex.be calls for more open data to improve transparency for all citizens and businesses. In first instance the PSI Directive 2013 will need to be transposed into national Belgian law as quickly as possible. However, a mere transposition is not enough. After all, governments should develop a framework for the disclosure of open data by public authorities and administrations at all levels to serve the society. In particular, we ask the government to proceed rapidly with the opening up of all court decisions in structured and anonymous format.
We also call for a "level playing field": a level playing field for all parties looking for legal advice and players that build applications around open data released by the government and case law in particular.
About Open Lex bvba
Open Lex bvba is a company founded in 2015 by Toon Vanagt and Eric Rodriguez. The founders teamed up with Erik De Herdt, ICT lawyer and entrepreneur, to introduce innovation in the archaic legal world. For any further information please visit the website: www.lex.be or feel free to contact Erik De Herdt, CEO lex.be, via 0473 83 90 91.