Thomson Reuters today (22 July) unveils Westlaw Edge UK, which now runs on the same platform as Westlaw in the United States and offers new features and functionality such as direct legislation comparison, case analytics, and a UK-EU divergence tracker to help end users navigate the legislative fallout from Brexit.

TR has worked with around 150 end users and a 50-strong panel on the project over the past year. Speaking to Legal IT Insider, Thomson Reuters vice president of research and commentary in the UK and Ireland, Andrew Buckley, said: “We’ve wanted to take Westlaw UK to the next level for a number of years but first we needed to get onto Thomson Reuters Legal’s strategic technology platform that Westlaw US has been on and we have looked covetously at. At the end of 2018 we launched Westlaw UK on that platform, and it gave us the opportunity to build a new version of Westlaw UK.”

Funding for the project was approved 15 months ago and Buckley says: “We started committing code around 12 months ago. We set ourselves an ambitious timeline to come to market in a year and if you’d said we were going to have to develop in the last four months with all your development team and customers working from home I wouldn’t have believed you, but we have achieved it.”

The development process has been iterative and of the 150 end users and panel, Buckley said: “We checked in with them at regular intervals and did deeper dives. A good example of that is the graphical presentation of case analytics. We had a lot of advice from customers, who work very differently. Some enjoy interacting with a list of content and picking out relevant cases, and some enjoy it graphically. We had a lively and informative debate about graphical v list for citing cases. We also worked closely with our customers on the divergence of UK and EU law. UK legislation has been an Act or Statutory Instrument but the way the UK government has decided to legislate as part of its deal with Brexit is that there is a body of EU law that has application now but come exit day it won’t. Overnight we have statutory instruments but also a brand new type of legislation to deal with, and we wanted to make sure that customers can pull out the this type of legislation out from the EU body of law from which it is derived.”

Features of Westlaw Edge UK include:

Legislation Compare helps users understand how a law may affect a client, organisation or industry at various points in time and allows customers to easily compare versions of historical, current and prospective legislation across UK, English, Welsh, Northern Ireland and Scottish jurisdictions with the key differences marked. Additionally, Legislation Compare provides a view into what the law may look like in the future to help users anticipate what its impact may be.
UK-EU Divergence Tracker enhances the capabilities of Legislation Compare and provides a side-by-side comparison of EU and UK content to help users understand how legislation diverges and deviates, ensuring clients and legal organisations remain compliant. UK-EU Divergence Tracker will be available in September 2020.
Case Analytics transforms case research through data visualisation and is invaluable in classifying, digesting and summarising each judgment and law report, along with Westlaw UK’s treatment flags and links to legislation, journals and texts. The precedent map in Case Analytics provides a view to how the case has been cited and enables tracing back lines of authority to ensure customers are relying on good law and that no line of argument has been missed. Its Citations in Context feature provides a review of relevant extracts of case text where a case is mentioned in relation to the user’s issue.
Westlaw Questions allows users to find commonly asked questions and return succinct results with key paragraphs highlighted. Based on content curated by Thomson Reuters editorial teams, Westlaw Questions allows users to find up-to-date and authoritative information quickly and easily, with suggested relevant research and resources tailored to the legal researcher’s needs.
Legislation Alerts allows users to anticipate the likely impact of legislative change so they can deliver the best advice. By sending notifications of changes to legislation to a user’s inbox, they can move away from manual checking and focus on the work that matters most. With additional notifications for citing references, a user can be sure that if anything changes, they’ll be instantly notified and can pre-empt demands.

7 Harrington Street Chambers barrister Tim Kenward said, “This will transform legal research. Rather than having to trawl through a list of cases, the interactive analytics enable the lawyer to locate and marshal cases with great efficiency, both saving time and providing the material for a better end product.”

Westlaw Edge UK is a standalone product and Buckley said: “It’s our best version of Westlaw UK,” while head of Legal Professionals, Lucinda Case, says in a statement out today: “Westlaw Edge UK is the most significant innovation we’ve made to legal research in the UK since 2007.”

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