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What is Law and Informatics?

The use of computer technology within the Law.

The Institute of Law and Informatics concerns itself with the question of how legal professionals can improve their ways of working with the aid of new technology. Law and informatics is part of applied information technology just like business information systems and medical informatics are. The study of Law and Informatics should help to answer the question; which technology (for example computers, databases or the Internet) is available and how could it be used to help legal research, learning or decision making processes and the pros and cons involved.

In this context the Institute of Law and Informatics feels that it is its duty to make legal information electronically available, therefore deviating from the traditional printed format, and to support the electronic exchange of legal documents. Examples include online legal databases as well as the technical maintenance of the decision databases of the Courts, for example the websites of the Federal Constitutional Court, the Social, Labour and Fiscal Courts of the Saarland as well as the Administrative Court in Frankfurt am Main.

The online publication of decisions by the courts themselves ensures the authenticity of the information and relieves the budget of the courts by saving on distribution of the decisions. A further advantage is that it is also technically possible to make the announcement and the decision available at the same time.
Nowadays in teaching, traditional lectures are also accompanied by electronic workshops. The software model developed by the Institute of Law and Informatics has been used successfully by many departments as supplementary material to lectures and seminars. Additionally the online publication of the law department, the so called "Saarbrücker Bibliothek", (Library of Saarbrücken) plays a central role.

Information Law

Furthermore, the Institute of Law and Informatics deals with Information Law and legal problems of new media, especially Internet Law. The Internet poses many legal questions, which concern current and future legislation of almost all areas of law and numerous regulations. Internet Law (also called Online Law, Netlaw, Cyberlaw) encapsulates many different areas of law (civil, public and criminal law) and has recently become an area of law in its own right. Closely linked to Internet Law is the Law of eCommerce. eCommerce takes place mainly within the context of the Internet and therefore both Internet and eCommerce rules overlap. The electronic exchange of legal documents is the generic term for eCommerce, the use of multimedia and the Internet in the public domain, which also plays a major role, especially in the electronic administration (eGovernment and eAdministration).

The Institute of Law and Informatics concentrates on questions of civil law in relation to Information Law. The remus project is a classic example as it examines the use of multimedia and the Internet within schools and universities. JurPC is a further example. This is the Internet journal published by Prof. Dr. Herberger which covers various topics related to Law and Informatics. The German Association for Computing in the Judiciary also deals with questions of law and informatics.

History

The ‚Saarbrücker Rechtsinformatik' (Law and Informatics in Saarbrücken) was founded in 1988 along with the establishment of the department of law and informatics, which was originally funded by the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft (Donors' Association for the Promotion of Sciences and Humanities in Germany) and headed by Prof. Dr. Herberger. He devoted himself to research and the improvement of teaching in this area and soon founded the German Association for Computing in the Judiciary, which deals with questions relating to the use of computer technology within the judiciary and holds an annual national congress. Nowadays, research activities are carried out through the Institute of Law and Informatics, which is part of the Chair of Civil Law, Legal Theory and Law and Informatics (Prof. Dr. Maximilian Herberger) and the Chair of German and European Procedural and Labour Law together with Civil Law (Prof. Dr. Stephan Weth) at the Saarland University.