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Open data and the rise of legal tech start-ups

Making data available has enabled young technological and legal companies to enter European markets


The number of legal tech start-ups – organisations that specialise in the legal and technology field – are rising in France. These start-ups are aiming to reform the old practices of legal professionals by offering legal documents on a digital platform and by effectively automating the process and services of companies. One method they are using to achieve this is by exploiting the potential of open data.

Since 2020, more legal data is being published under an open license, where before 2020 data such as those published by the French National Register of Commerce and Companies was accessible, but at a cost. An example of open legal data in France that is being used by these start-ups is open data on judicial decisions, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Court of Cassation of France (the highest court in the French judicial system). This institution is responsible for the publication and dissemination of open data on judicial decisions across France. As of September 2021, all information about the decisions made by the Court have been published under an open license. Moreover, as of April 2022, the decisions of the Court of Appeal in France have been published as open data, excluding information on criminal matters. To ensure that they are compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the Court has developed a new technical architecture that anonymises decisions before the data is published. The Court plans to publish decisions from other judicial courts under an open license between June 2023 and December 2025, following a timeline decided by a decree adopted on 28 April 2021.

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