In this section we cover the most commonly asked questions with regards to each target audienceâ€™s involvement with ECLI.
For legal professionals:
- Why should I use ECLI for citing case law?ECLI is an unequivocal code to identify a judgment all across Europe. While case numbers can be ambiguous â€“ since many cases have more than one judgment â€“ and no official formatting, the European Case Law Identifier has a fixed format, and is assigned to individual judgments. It is easy to recognize, and easy to read: ECLI â€“ country code â€“ abbreviation of court â€“ year of judgment â€“ some serial number. It is also very well readable by computers, hence ECLI will easily be found by search engine, and facilitate automated linking of judgments to each other, to other legal sources or to academic works.
- How should I cite an ECLI?To be understandable by both humans as by computers you should always cite an ECLI in full. Do not leave out any parts, since they are all essential. If you just refer to: â€˜NL:HR:2015:472â€™ your readers will not understand you are referring to a judicial decision, and also search engines and other computer programmes might have troubles understanding your text.Â
If you are referring to a national judgment in a national context you probably do not have to supply any additional information, because the court code ( the third part of the ECLI) will probably be immediately recognized by all. If you are citing a case from abroad or citing a national judgement for an international audience, you might want to add the name of the court. Your citation could then e.g. be: â€˜Supreme Court of the Netherlands, ECLI:NL:HR:2015:472â€™. Additional information, like case numbers, exact date of judgment or parallel citations, which have been traditionally been added to a citation to improve its findability are not needed any more. If implemented correctly by case law publishers, every ECLI can be traced on line.
- Why do not all judgments have an ECLI?ECLI is a European standard, but it is implemented on a voluntary basis. In every Member State a â€˜national ECLI co-ordinatorâ€™ should be appointed, responsible for how and when ECLI can be introduced. This introduction is often dependent upon political priorities or technical and financial constraints.