Technology, legal information, and access to justice in Africa

Authored by: Femi Cadmus

The Routledge Handbook of African Law

Print publication date:  November  2021
Online publication date:  November  2021

Print ISBN: 9780815350682
eBook ISBN: 9781351142366
Adobe ISBN:


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The bedrock of a sound common law legal systems is the availability of precedent preserved in the body of law. Inherent in the rule of law is access to publicly promulgated laws, which are adhered to by all. The UN’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16.10 target is to, “ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms in accordance with national legislation and international agreements.” However, the indicator for this target states that “legislation that calls for freedom of information has increased steadily, but slow or inefficient implementation of such laws remains a concern.” The chapter seeks to address the challenges faced by African countries in their efforts to meet the SDG16.10. Historically, access to legal information in most regions of Africa has been problematic. During a predominantly print era, the barriers included the failure of governments to preserve and make legal information available, reliance on foreign legal materials (one of the legacies of colonialism), low and often nonexistent materials budgets in information centers, as well as prohibitive costs of legal text. These problems persist in a digital era, but innovative technologies have the potential to provide creative solutions for accessing legal information and legal services.

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