b) Recording Decisions in the Print Paradigm
The printed law reports are still seen as a primary authority although, as has beenobserved, case law is also accessible through various databases which may beaccessed through the Internet. The volume of cases, and therefore the identification of a wider variety of fact scenarios, has increased dramatically.Yet the basic reasoning process remains. Irrespective of the means of access to courtdecisions, the value in such decisions is in the process by which the Court foundcertain facts and applied an identified legal principle to them.We take printed case law for granted. It was not always so. Edmund Plowden wasmotivated more by reputation than altruism when he printed his
in1571. Edward Coke was initially hesitant about printing his Reports in 1600 but hisenthusiasm increased over the years. By the time of the decision in
printed law was a given. The new technology had become accepted andcase law in print was the norm.
Thus the expression of cases in text, while utilizingthe properties of print such as standardization, dissemination and volume, was limitedby the other properties that were inherent in the print based technology
essentially atwo dimensional text based system utilizing a particular medium
paper. It is for thisreason that the judicial reasoning process has been a text based representation of whatmight otherwise have been articulated from the Bench. The reasoning process isconstricted by the ability to use language to articulate the outcome.
In the same way that print enabled the widespread dissemination of large numbers of volumes of standard text law reports
all of which had been impossible in themanuscript paradigm
the digital paradigm allows for similar text based informationwith greater ease of access and in larger quantities and also has inherent within it
(1765) 19 Howell's State Trials 1030
per Lord Camden “
If it is law, it will be found in our books. If it is
not to be found there, it is not law.”
It was not until the 1860’s that an official publication of law reports in England was approved.
It could be said that print technology has dictated the way in which decisions are rendered andpresented
an example of McLuhan’s observation “We shape ou
r tools and thereafter our tools
shape us” Marshall McLuhan
The Extensions of Man
(McGraw Hill, New York1964)