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Legal XML Australia Face-to-Face II 

Meeting Minutes

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1.0 (
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Workgroup Information
Workgroup Name: Legal XML Australia
Workgroup Chair(s): Sue Scott (, Allison Stanfield (
Workgroup Mailing List:
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Document Author(s)
Rebecca Grant (
Document Editor(s)
Allison Stanfield (
Sue Scott (
Short Statement of Status

Tuesday 31 October 2000: Federal Court of Australia, Queens Square, Sydney

CHAIRED by Sue Scott and Allison Stanfield.

  1. Sue Scott welcome - a meeting to find out about different initiatives and strategies for standards for Australian legal information.

  2. Telephone link-up with WA forum.

  3. Around the room - identification of those present; being persons from Courts, Government departments, law firms, software Vendors and industry consultants.

  4. Allison Stanfield - brief overview of Legal XML Australia and advising Legal XML Australia's site is

  5. AS - aim is to encourage Australian jurisdictions to agree on standards on documents, to exchange information in relation to project areas, including judgments, transcripts and Court filing.

  6. SS introduced Todd Vincent who summarised Legal XML as having been founded in 1998 with 17 original members, and as having grown to over 700 members, of which 125 are Australian members. A slide presentation entitled "Generic Structure and Methodology" followed, where TV described the "Anatomy of a Legal XML Document" :

    1. Standards across different types of documents, legislature, contracts and transcripts.
    2. If not standard, then similar in methodology -
      • Element names (case sensitive, horizontal elements), e.g. a date is rendered as "Date".
      • Methodology: a way of structuring documents so they are always the same.
    3. Simple with a view to building, i.e. start simple and envisage the evolution of versions.
    4. XML must support legal vocabulary and be rich, flexible and modular.
    5. XML must fit in a word processor paradigm.
    6. XML must support document conversion and translation; with tables, outlines and paragraphs.
  7. A number of slides followed which featured a diagrammatic representation of a document with "Front Matter", a "Document Body", and "Back Matter". "Front" and "Back Matter" included headings and referencing material. When marked up with Legal XML, there was an additional section at the "top" and "bottom" of the document, named "Head" and "XML Signature". These sections contained, respectively, metadata in RDF, and signatures, or digital signatures. The "Document Body" included paragraphs, tables, and lists, with vocabulary plugins.

  8. TV then showed a raw Legal XML document through IE and applied it to show the resulting document, after the mark-ups had been applied.

  9. There was a question from the floor on how RDF relates to an XML scheme, which was answered by TV stating that DTD is the standard syntax for describing XML, whereas RDF can be used to mark metadata in a very flexible way.

  10. A comment further clarifying RDF then came from the floor to the effect that RDF is useful for describing all types of documents, and resources; not just XML documents.

  11. Another comment from the floor was in relation to XML developing the use of similar or identical tags to describe some issue, which elicited a brief discussion of the "meaning" and the "container" theory. Briefly, the "meaning" theory is where a tag is associated to an element, which relates directly to what that element conveys in its meaning. This is versus the "container" theory, where a tag is associated to an element which generically describes the nature of the element; and this is a tag more likely to be able to be applied across the board.

  12. SS offered thanks to TV for his presentation and discussion.

  13. The meeting broke for Morning Tea.

  14. SS then called for an update on areas of activity from Legal XML Australia members.

  15. Stephen Taylor from the South Australian Courts Administration Authority advised that last week the Court signed a contract to develop eFiling for its Small Claims Division. He advised that the tender has required the use of XML, and that the Court and the successful contractor, Morten Blackett, were now developing the specifications for the project, which was scheduled to be installed in March 2001. Morten Blackett are a local Adelaide company.

  16. Tony Martin from the Family Court advised that they are piloting an eFiling project with 4 firms taking part in the project and using a Legacy database. Tony stressed that the Court was mindful of understand its clients' needs, and wanted to lower costs and risks for the Court and its users.

  17. Imelda Payne from the Federal Court advised that the Judgments Project was on hold and the eFiling Project had completed Stage 1, where documents were submitted for filing electronically; and were proceeding to Stage 2, which would see the formulation of a document management system which embodied the use of XML.

  18. Peter Egri from B2G/Auscript advised that they had developed a hybrid software that dealt with the attaching of PDF's to emails that incorporated version 1 of Legal XML CourtFiling proposed standard.

  19. Tony Sutherland from the WA forum advised that eFiling had been occurring since May 2000, using XML, and there was a new initiative relating to messaging using Legal XML, and they are hoping it will be up and running in May 2001. This new project is an inter-agency initiative, allowing messaging between the Police Service, Courts, Gaols, and the Coroner's Court.

  20. AS spoke of the Reporting Services Branch, who has a project underway looking at using XML to create a standardised transcript.

  21. Peter Meyer from Elkera advised of a SGML project he was working on for the NSW Parliamentary Council where DTD's have been developed to mark up existing legislation and highlighted the issue of identifying standards. He also reported that he has been working on a project with the Council of Law Reporting for NSW involving data capture and mark-up of legislation dating from 1971. He advised that the Parliamentary Council is now moving to embrace SGML.

  22. Phillip Argy from Mallesons Stephen Jacques advised that MSJ had developed internal DTD's, which he saw as being migrated into any standards that evolve from Legal XML Australia.

  23. Phil Farrelly from Ringtail Solutions said they had identified XML as an efficient way to structure output data and were working on the next generation with architecture that would be open to XML.

  24. SS then handed over to William Hall, of Tenix Defence Systems. WH described himself as a documentation specialist who has spent the last 10 years providing services to the Defence Forces through Tenix. WH spoke of how Tenix had to resolve the problem of tying text to the requirements of the Defence Forces, so that issues could be identified, such as, for example, contractually mandated deliverables. WH spoke of these issues as being an administrative and information management problem.

  25. SS then opened the meeting to the floor for discussion as to strategies for moving forward.

  26. Peter Meyer suggested that Legal XML Australia cant do anything, until there are standards; noting that expectations have to be measures. He said there has to be a focus on what standards are required, and suggested that these requirements would come from actual projects. As an example, he spoke of eFiling and said the parties to that project will have to work out what the needs are, and then address those needs by identifying standards. He also suggested that business requirements have to be looked at; i.e. it is unlikely that clients of courts will lodge XML documents for a while. He stressed that here has to be software that supports DTD, so plug-ins can be used and data does not have to be re-engineered. He also said it was important to develop standards for use across all documents, for example, paragraphs and other primitive objects. PM finished with the thought that a standard DTD may have to be developed for integration, which could then be customised or limited for use within an organization.

  27. AS - wanted the meeting to define what the Legal XML Australia Group is about; the role of the convenors and to encourage the exchange of ideas.

  28. AS had received a letter address to her and SS, from Chief Justice Malcolm from WA and member of the Council of Chief Justices. A meeting of the CCJ took place last week and the letter was sent advising the Legal XML had been raised on the agenda. Some paragraphs from that letter were read to the meeting; viz:

    "... there was a general consensus that the development of Legal XML data standards will be of assistance to all courts. It was recognised that it was imperative that there be common standards among the courts throughout Australia. In the development of such standards there needs to be involvement of all parties involved.

    ... The result is that the Chief Justices agreed to expand the National Working Party in relation to the Electronic Appeals Project to include other relevant aspects of information technology developments including the adoption of common standards for electronic filing of documens etc... "

  29. Anne Wallace from AIJA spoke of the AIJA Technical Protocol Committee and its eFiling and Legal XML initiatives, saying 2 things were important:

    1. The need to get information about XML to users; and

    2. The importance of Courts working with and getting feedback from the profession.

  30. SS - this raised the issue of where Legal XML Australia fits in - as an information group, or a resource, which could prepare an issues paper on eFiling to get the CCJ and AIJA up to speed, and then act as an information exchange point.

  31. AS - sees Legal XML Australia as a collaborative effort between it and Legal XML.

  32. TV - sees Legal XML Australia as having the ability to drive standards in the areas of transcripts and judgments. He advised that the growth of Legal XML and the workload now requires the services of a full time director and possibly some staff. To that end, he advised that Legal XML were considering raising funds by way of levying a membership fee, set at about US$1,000 for institutional memberships and US$25 for individual memberships.

  33. Anne Wallace - saw a problem with charging membership fees of that order, particularly for Courts.

  34. Stephen Taylor from SA Courts - sees Legal XML Australia as a forum for the exchange of ideas.

  35. Jason Harrop- the re-engineering of existing software will not happen - the need is to identify requirements before software is written. This body is probably better to look at requirements which need to be developed, rather than getting down to writing DTD's.

  36. SS - a shared understanding about where standards are needed and whether they can be Austro-centric or whether consideration of compatibility of the international standards is necessary. Sees Legal XML Australia as a discussion group to feed information to relevant bodies, such as the CCJ and AIJA in relation to the eFiling issue; with a strong focus on education, assistance and communication.

  37. Matthew King from B2G/Auscript put the web forward as a good example of how information exchange can be quickly captured and built upon to formulate standards; as opposed to setting out requirements and then adapting standards to meet those requirements.

  38. Tony Sutherland from the WA linkup - sees Legal XML Australia as a clearing house for information, for bringing together information and then coming to a consensus. He also raised the issue of timely action - people are already asking how they can conform to Legal XML standards.

  39. The eFiling Group - Peter Egri wants to put together an issues paper and invites an information exchange from people present. Phil Farrelly, etc volunteered to assist.

  40. Phil Farrelly - the Vendor perspective - a product based on international standards, which complies with the requirements within Australia and overseas is the ideal - reducing the unit cost of the data solution to all users.

  41. SS - has been contacted by various Vendors wanting to organise a demonstration of products - asked the meeting to consider whether it viewed as appropriate the circulation by Legal XML Australia to the mailing lists information and invitations to attend product demonstrations. The meeting agreed that this was appropriate, providing the Vendors were channelled through the convenors, and did not access the mailing lists directly; with the convenors to vett the information circulated.


    1. Members of Legal XML Australia to comment on eFiling Standards
    2. Comments to be pulled together for an issues paper to be submitted to the CCJ working party
    3. Investigate the possibility of running a forum to address proposed eFiling standards in February 2001. Involvement of Legal XML Australia in this will be dependent on developments resulting from the CCJ e-filing initiative. SS and AS to liaise with the CCJ and AIJA on this
    4. Another face-to-face meeting in Sydney in March 2001, with a call for papers to be presented at such a meeting. March was considered to be a good time though other CLE activities would need to be taken into account. It was suggested that the needs of law firms need to be considered in designing a program. Peter Meyer, Philip Argy, Anne Wallace, and Matthew King offered to help with organising this seminar.




Andrew Martin


Rebecca Grant

eLaw Australia

Phil Farrelly

Ringtail Solutions

Jason Harrop


Graham Parr


Anne Wallace


Peter Meyer


Matthew King


Rimma Dinkin


Tim Arnold-Moore


Sylvia Yee

CCH Australia

Veronica Roby

Judicial Commission

Imelda Payne

Federal Court

Philip Tousche

NSW Police

William Hall

Tenix Defence Systems

Sharon Cavell

Clayton Utz

Patrick Macalister

NSW Law Society

Simon Lewis

Sinch Software

Wayne Threlfall

Defence XML/SGML Centre

Vanessa Lowe

Arthur Robinson & Hedderwick

Andrew Martin


Trish Luker

Federal Court of Australia

Matthew Golab

Allen Allen & Helmsley

Carolyn Austin

Minter Ellison

Gail McGuckin

Minter Ellison

Stuart Kay

Minter Ellison

David McGrath

Arthur Anderson

Greg Wildisen


Scott Gillard


Philip Argy

Mallensons Stephen Jacques

Tony Martin

Family Court of Australia

Sally Kay

NSW Law Society

John Mathieson

Federal Court of Australia

Francis Johns


Greg Curry

NSW Attorney-General's Department

Jill O'Meara

NSW Department of Industrial Relations

Catherine Sullivan

Federal Court of Australia

Linda Fong Peng

Baker & Mackenzie

Fred Smith


Peter Egri


Steven Taylor

SA Courts

Philip Chung


Todd Vincent

Legal XML

Allison Stanfield

eLaw Australia

Sue Scott

Law Foundation of NSW

Jennifer Lazberger

WA Supreme Court

Tony Sutherland


Gavin Jones

WA Ministry of Justice

Heather Kay

WA Ministry of Justice

Shane Talbot

WA Ministry of Justice

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