Date of this Version
Bangani, S. 2018. Open access to legal resources in South Africa: the benefits and challenges.
It is a constitutional right of all South Africans to have access to information held by the state or any other person especially if the information is required to protect a right (South Africa 1996). With this right comes the obligation on the state to ensure that whatever information it has in its possession, and can be reasonably shared, is distributed widely, openly, freely and fairly to the citizenry. Since the adoption of the Constitution in 1996, the Internet’s reach in South Africa has increased significantly. The Internet has therefore become an attractive platform to distribute legal information. The South African legal system has embraced open access to legal information such as case law, legal documents, parliamentary bills, statutes, parliamentary debates, government gazettes, electronic books, theses, authoritative blogs and other Social Media. This study argues that Open Access to legal resources is beneficial for the country, its citizens, researchers and students of law. Open Access to legal resources strengthens the South African democracy and ensures equality before the law. Among the challenges include that many citizens still do not have access to the internet anyway. Open access to legal resources therefore only benefits those who have access to the Internet, and the legal awareness and skills to search and understand the information.