IT & the Lawyer

A point in time

Viewing specific changes to legislation and keeping up to date with all the latest amendments can be a time-consuming and tedious process for legal practitioners, particularly when it involves following a multitude of hypertext links to search for historical versions of Principal Acts.

Now new, enhanced functionality from LexisNexis enables subscribers to South Africa’s most comprehensive online legal research tool, Lexis Library®, to view not only current legislation, but also all previous amendments since 2014.

Wendy Campbell-White, Business & Content Development Manager: Legislation, LAWSA & Tax at LexisNexis South Africa, explains the benefits of the new Lexis Library Point in time feature. “Lexis Library provides our clients with the most comprehensive and up-to-date national legislation and Principal Acts. However, legal practitioners ranging from judges to advocates, attorneys and even legal librarians and secretaries often need to refer to historical versions of Acts in carrying out their work to establish the law at a particular point in time.

“For example, if you are assisting a client with a dispute that relates to a previous year, the legislation relevant to the dispute may have been amended subsequent to the dispute arising. Lexis Library Point in Time enables you to go back and look at what the legislation looked like at that point in time while clearly highlighting the differences between then and now,” she says.

Users can choose to view the legislation and changes in either PDF or RTF view.

Campbell-White adds: “The Lexis Library Point in Time functionality also offers users a quick and easy way to scroll through highlighted changes in certain legislation where there may be frequent and substantial amendments from year to year, such as Income Tax, Labour Law and Finance.”

An added enhancement exclusive to Lexis Library is the Compare feature, which seamlessly displays different versions of each Principal Act side by side with changes highlighted through colour-coding. Red highlighted text indicates the earlier version while green displays the latest, most up-to-date version. Scrolling within the later version then enables users to view all the Amendments.

Section by section point in time comparisons are also available within specific sections of larger Acts, simply by navigating to the Section, clicking on the Point in Time icon and viewing a list of all historical versions of both the full Act and the Section in the pop-up display.

The Point in Time feature comes ahead of several revamps planned for Lexis Library later this year, according to Campbell-White. Also in the pipeline is a facelift of the table of contents within the library, together with a revolutionary revamp of national, provincial and local government legislation as well as Gazettes Online – making it much easier for users to navigate their way around and to locate content that is relevant to them.

More recent updates already on offer from Lexis Library include the consolidation and grouping of content according to specific fields of interest, termed Research Areas. This has helped to narrow down search results without showing information that is irrelevant. While the original way of searching by Publications is still there for those who prefer to conduct their research the way they always have, LexisNexis complemented this with additional search options grouped by content relevant to particular topics - such as Civil Procedure, Labour and Employment, Banking and Finance, B-BBEE, Family Law and Persons, Provincial Governments, Tax, Corporate and Commercial – as well as by Legislation, Case Law, LAWSA, Forms and Precedents, Commentary works and Practical Guidance.

The end result is improved navigation and indexing which makes it even easier for lawyers to find exactly what they are looking for. “Helping clients to uphold the Rule of Law is our global purpose and - with that at the core of our work - we will continue to invest in technology and content solutions that provide clients with the right tools, to make the right call at the right time in an efficient and user-friendly way,” says Campbell-White.

For further information on the new Point in Time feature, clients can email or visit Lexis Library Point in time

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