AustLII is an Australian specialist portal, which addresses itself in particular to lawyers. It offers free access to Australian legal materials. The aim of AustLII is to improve access to justice through better access to information. Today AustLII is one of the largest sources of legal material on the web with over four million searchable documents.

Language English

Launched 1995
Closed No

Developer University of Technology Sydney and the University of New South Wales Law schools

Country of Origin Australia

1995 - 1997 AustLII

Topic SeEn For Politic, Society & Rights Information

Region No Limitation

Technical functionalities
Targetted Web Spider
Search engine for databases, repositories, portals and other closed (deep web) or open content collections

Used SeEn AustLII

Robot: Gromit (Source)

Older Version Internet Archive / WebCite

»AustLII is Australia's most popular online free-access resource for Australian legal information, serving the needs of a multitude of users with over 700,000 hits daily. AustLII is a joint facility of the UTS and UNSW Faculties of Law. AustLII relies on the generosity of its contributors to operate.

The Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII) provides free internet access to Australasian legal materials. AustLII's broad public policy agenda is to improve access to justice through better access to information. To that end, we have become one of the largest sources of legal materials on the net, with over four million searchable documents.

AustLII publishes public legal information -- that is, primary legal materials (legislation, treaties and decisions of courts and tribunals); and secondary legal materials created by public bodies for purposes of public access (law reform and royal commission reports for example) and a substantial collection of law journals. Source

»AustLII's free text retrieval engine, SINO, [...] accepts search queries using operators similar to those used in virtually all search languages with which Australian lawyers are familiar. Operators from different languages may be combined in one search (Greenleaf et al; 1997a).

AustLII released its new search interface, [...] in June 1997. It is a major advance over the previous interface. The SINO search engine has also been rewritten in many respects, both to enable the new interface to be implemented, and to increase the speed of searching and the return of search results.« Source


Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII) Source

Critical points

Features & Functionality

»There are now four distinct methods of searching and displaying results, two of which are new. The two methods which are largely unchanged are Boolean search with Long Results display (the previous standard search method) and Freeform search with Ranked Results display (the only previous form of ranked results display), although SINO now returns results much more quickly. The two new methods, Boolean search with Short Results display and Boolean search with Ranked Results display are described briefly below, [...]. he addition of these options now gives AustLII a comprehensive set of search options suitable for the most inexperienced to the most expert users.

Boolean search with Short Results display
The initial search results only lists the total number of documents retrieved, and then each database name which contains documents satisfying the search, plus the number of documents in that database satisfying the search (the 'short results' page). The short results option makes it less necessary to limit searches to particular databases, as the user can now more easily select which databases are of interest after the search is complete, without having to wade through pages of results.

Boolean search with Ranked Results display
A Boolean search with ranked results is the most sophisticated search option offered on AustLII. It allows all AustLII connectors and operators to be used to carry out the search. However, the search results are then displayed with documents ranked according to (i) how many search terms they contain; and (ii) a 'score' indicating how often the search terms appear. Overall ranking is indicated by a %. The difference between this method and Freeform Searching (which also uses relevance ranking for displays) is that this method allows the ranked set of documents to have more precision (because 'and' and 'near' connectors can be used to limit what is found) and more recall because truncation (*) and synonyms can more safely be used in these searches. Relevance ranking adds precision to searches after the search is complete, by ranking the results in likely order of relevance. The best way to use this search method is to do a fairly broad search even though it might find a lot of irrelevant documents and then rely on the ranking mechanism to display the most relevant documents first. 'Freeform' searching - relevance ranking for beginners

AustLII also provides 'freeform' searching with relevance ranking display. No search connectors may be used in 'freeform' searching and if used are ignored. All common words are also disregarded. It is similar to Alta Vista's simple search method.« Source


References & further Publications

Wikipedia (EN):
Wikipedia (Others): n.a.

Other Sources

Philip Greenleaf et al. (1997): The AustLII Papers New Directions in Law via the Internet URL:
JILT 1997 (2) - AustLII's roles URL:

Created: 2019-01-31