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Online Legal Information in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden

  • Suzanne Thorpe


Denmark, Norway, and Sweden are among the most technologically advanced countries in the world. It is not surprising, therefore, to find sophisticated online systems offering extensive access to legal information in each country. This article briefly traces the development of online legal information in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. In addition, it provides a country by country overview of the legal databases and online guides to electronic legal resources that are currently available. Most of the databases discussed can be accessed, wholly or in part, without charge via the Internet. A few are restricted to paid subscribers or are available only on CD-ROM. It should be noted that, while Denmark and Sweden are members of the European Union, this article does not cover the databases in either country specifically devoted to European Union law.



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1 A recent study measuring the ability of fifty-five countries to access and absorb information and information technology ranked Denmark, Norway, and Sweden 5th, 4th, and 1st respectively. A summary of this study, the IDC/World Times Information Society Index, can be found at <>.

2 See infra pages 5974.

3 Lov af 25 juni 1870 (Lovtidendeloven).

4 Betænkning om Lovtidende og Ministerialtidende afgivet af det af Justitsministeriet den 22 marts 1965 udvalg. Betænkning nr. 740 (Copenhagen, Statens Trykningskontor, 1975).

5 Karnov, Sven, Det juridiske informationssystem og datateknikken:rapport til Statens samfundsvidenskabelige forskningsråd (Copenhagen: Statens samfundsvidenskabelige forskningsråd, 1976);_____, Det juridiske informationssystem: en brugerunders⊘gelse: rapport til Statens samfundsvidenskabelige forskningsråd (Copenhagen: Statens samfundsvidenskabelige forskningsråd, 1978);_____, Det juridiske informationssystem: et pr⊘veprojekt: rapport til Statens samfundsvidenskabelige forskningsråd (Copenhagen: Statens samfundsvidenskabelige forskningsråd, 1979);_____, Det juridiske informationssystem: afsluttende rapport: rapport til Statens samfundsvidenskabelige forskningsråd (Copenhagen: Statens samfundsvidenskabelige forskningsråd, 1979).

6 This report is discussed in “Bilag 4,” Retsinformationsrådets Betæenkning om en Lovdatabase, Betænkning nr. 1001 (Copenhagen: Statens Informationstjeneste, 1988), 121.

7 “Notat om rådets nedsættelse og opgaver,” reproduced as “Bilag 4,” in Retsinformationsrådets betænkning om en lovdatabase, 121122.

8 The text of this directive is reproduced as “Bilag 1,” in Retsinformationsrådets betænkning om en lovdatabase, 9192.

9 Retsinformationsrådet, Retsinformationsrådets betænkning om en lovdatabase.

10 Ibid., 70.

11 If a discrepancy occurs between a consolidated text and the original text in the Law Gazette, the text in the gazette is the authoritative text. Peter Blume, Juridisk informationss⊘gning, 3d ed. (n.p.: Akademisk Forlag, 1989), 120.

12 Retsinformationsrådet, Retsinformationsrådets betænkning om databaser med konkrete afg⊘relser, Betænkning nr. 1144 (Copenhagen: Statens Informationstjeneste, 1988).

13 Arbejdsgruppen Vedr⊘rende Formidling af Retspraksis. Rapport (Copenhagen: Sekretariatet for Retsinformation, 1998).

14 Lovbekendtg⊘relse nr. 621 af 2 oktober 1987 om offentlige myndigheders registre. This law was recently superseded by Lov nr. 429 af 31 maj 2000 om behandling af personoplysninger.

15 Retsinformationsrådet, Retsinformationsrådets betænkning om databaser med konkrete afg⊘relser, 95.

16 Cirkulære om indlæggelse af afg⊘relser i Retsinformation, nr. 85 af 8 juli 1988, reprinted as “Bilag 9,” in Retsinformationsrådet, Retsinformationsrådets betænkning om databaser med konkrete afg⊘relser, 185186.

17 Cirkulæreskrivelse om regeringsbeslutning af 28. august 1997 om Retsinformation. CIS nr. 11480 af 30/10/1997.

18 Forskningsministeriet, Action for Change: IT Policy Plan 97/98 [Handling gi'r forvandling: IT-politisk handlingsplan 97/98] (Copenhagen: Forskningsministeriet, 1997), Initiative 2.5.

19 This guide is also published in the journal, Referencen 28 (1999): 38.

20 This guide is also published in Referencen, 29 (1999): 39.

21 “Lovene på EDB,” Aftenposten, Nov. 9, 1971.

22 This is now called the Norwegian Research Center for Computers and Law [Institutt for Rettsinformatikk].

23 This report was published in a series from the University of Oslo Department for Data Processing Matters, NORIS, 18 (Oslo: n.p., 1977).

24 The events discussed in this paragraph are described in Morten Daae, Kort om Lovdatas f⊘rste Historie, §4 (as found at <>).

25 Regulations for the Lovdata Foundation, §3 (as found at <>).

26 Agreement on the Creation of the Lovdata Foundation, dated April 6, 1981 (as found at <>).

27 Daae, Morten, Kort om Lovdatas f⊘rste historie, §7.4.

28 H⊘yer, Jon Bonnevie, Aide-memoire on the Background for the Creation of the Lovdata Foundation (1981). English translation of the Ministry of Justice document (as found at <>).

29 Morten Daae, Kort om Lovdatas f⊘rste Historie, §7.4.

30 The are reports of official commissions of inquiry appointed by the government to explore proposals for legislative reform.

31 Lov nr.31 av 14 apr. 2000 om behandling av personopplysninger (Personopplysningsloven).

32 ODIN stands for Official Documentation and Information in Norway [Offentlig dokumentasjon og informasjon i Norge].

33 E-post og Internett i domstolene – del rapport 1, §3.3. December 22, 1999 (as found at <>).

34 Lov nr. 37 av 4 juni 1999 om endringer i rettergangslovene permits courts to delete such information.

35 Plikt- og rettighetsinformasjon på Internett: rapport fra en arbeidsgruppe nedsatt av Arbeids- og administrasjonsdepartementet (Oslo: Departementet, 1999).

36 Ibid., 5.

37 The Joint Committee on Information Systems was established through a Ministry of Justice directive, Ju 1968:59.

38 Seipel, Peter, Introduktion till rättsinformatiken (Stockholm: P.A. Norstedts, 1982), 61.

39 Kungörelsen 1970:517, §1 (RI-kungörelsen).

40 Rättsdata, L. Arnlind, “A Swedish Legal Information System,” in The Progress of Legal Information Systems in Europe: Proceedings of the Seventh Symposium on Legal Data Processing in Europe, Cambridge, 13–15, 1983, (Strasbourg: Council of Europe, 1984), 178.

41 The committee sent a memo dated March 14, 1980 to the government recommending that Rättsdata be opened for anyone to use. This is discussed in Samarbetsorganet för Rättsväsendets Informationssystem, Rättsdatasystemet: en orientering, Ds Ju 1980:10 (Stockholm: LiberFörlag/Allmänna Förlaget, 1980).

42 Förordning 1980:628 (Rättsdataförordningen) reproduced as “Bilaga 3,” in Rättsdatasystemet: en orientering, Ds Ju 1980:10 (Stockholm: LiberFörlag/Allmänna Förlaget, 1981).

43 Seipel, Peter, Juristen och datorn: introduktion till rättsinformatiken (Stockholm: Norstedts Juridik, 1992), 145.

44 Samarbetsorganet för Rättsväsendets Informationssystem, Rättsdata: utveckling, nulage, framtid: förslag, Ds Ju 1984:3 (Stockholm: Liber/Allmänna Förlaget, 1984).

45 Palm, Johan, “Rättsbanken,” in Rättslig informationssökning i databaser: juristens nya verktyg (Stockholm: Fritze, 1994), 177.

46 Seipel, Peter, Elektronisk rättsinformation, IRI-rapport 1986:10. (Stockholm, Institutet för Rättsinformatik, 1986).

47 The report is discussed in detail in Peter Seipel, “Stiftelsen för rättsinformation och den svenska situationen,” in Nordisk rettsinformatikk: foredrag fra Oslokonferansen 21.og 22. september 1989 (Oslo: Tano, 1990), 132–134.

48 “Report Submitted by the Swedish Delegation,” in Roles in the Organisation of Legal Data Processing Systems, Proceedings of the 8th Colloquy on Legal Data Processing in Europe, Malta, 9–11, 1990 (Strasbourg: Council of Europe Press, 1992), 100.

49 Förordning 1986:587.

50 The commission's statement, dated October 8, 1996, is available at <>.

51 Regeringens proposition 1995/96:125 Åtgärder för att bredda och utveckla användningen av informationsteknik (Measures for Broadening and Developing Use of Information Technology), §5.3.4.

52 Regerings skrivelse 1995/96:282.

53 These reports are called Statens offentliga utredningar (SOU) and Departementesserier (Ds). They present the results of official investigations on government proposals, including proposals for legislative reforms.

54 Ett offentligt rättsinformationssystem, Ds 1998:10. (Stockholm: Fritzes Offentliga Publikationer, 1998).

55 Regeringens skrivelse 1998/99:17.

56 Förordning 1999:175 (Rättsinformationsförordning).

57 Ibid., §1.

58 Ibid., §20.

59 1998:204 (Personuppgiftlagen).

* Associate Director for Faculty, Research, and Instructional Services, University of Minnesota Law Library. J.D., University of Minnesota Law School, M.A. (Library Science), University of Wisconsin – Madison, B.A. (Scandinavian Studies), University of Wisconsin – Madison. I would like to thank Joan Howland, Roger F. Noreen Professor of Law and Director of the Law Library and Technology/Computerization Program, University of Minnesota Law School, for granting me the Caroline Brede Scholarship which enabled me to conduct research in Scandinavia. Pal Bertnes, Chief Librarian, University of Oslo Law Library, Kari Gyllander, Editor, Lovdata, Ingrid Kabir, Head of the Law Section, University of Stockholm Library, Julie Sanders, formerly Librarian, University of Copenhagen Legal Institute Library, and Marianne Öberg, Librarian, University of Uppsala Law Library, all deserve special thanks for sharing their expertise and time with me. Tack så mycket!


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