European Court of Human Rights Enhances File Search and Sharing Platform

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) embraces SkyDox’s Web 2.0 searching and sharing functionality to improve document dissemination.

The Challenge

The ECHR wanted to develop a new document search and sharing system that would allow more than 4.6 million site visitors each year to search for and retrieve documents from an ever-expanding library of over 90,000 ECHR judgment-related documents. The challenges were to leverage its legacy investments in SharePoint and Hummingbird DMS and to combine them with new search technologies to build an intuitive search and sharing platform that could be used by professionals and the public alike.

ECHR rulings affect over 800 million inhabitants in 47 member states, and under the Convention (Article 44 § 3), it is required to make its judgments public and easily accessible to interested parties.

The Solution

The ECHR chose to build a platform based on SkyDox’s search and share capabilities to meet this requirement.

The new platform, built on the organization’s HUDOC document database, combines Microsoft FAST’s search capabilities with new and innovative SkyDox Web 2.0 technologies to create a unique, real-time search experience for users accessing legal-ruling documents. SkyDox worked closely with the ECHR and Microsoft to improve granular search functionality of the ECHR HUDOC document library and produced an intuitive user interface hosted on Microsoft SharePoint Internet sites.

In addition to delivering the most relevant documents based on specific search criteria, the platform has also been designed to accommodate large volumes of traffic. Following a major ruling, it is typical for the ECHR’s site to receive up to 5,000 simultaneous visitors, including legal professionals, the general public, global news organizations, local legal institutions, and government institutions, who are among the 47 member states of Europe.

“This project will greatly enhance the ECHR’s capacity to distribute its case law to as wide an audience as possible, as well as allowing us to leverage our investment in Microsoft SharePoint and Microsoft FAST,” says John Hunter, the ECHR’s Head of IT.

The new platform developed by SkyDox will ensure that the public can search for and access documents within seconds of being published. It will also provide a set of new features, such as search refiners, that will allow users to find the information they need more effectively. This will transform the document delivery process and enhance overall usability of the ECHR online document repository.

What ECHR Does...

The European Court of Human Rights (in Strasbourg) is a supra-national court established by the European Convention on Human Rights and hears complaints that a contracting state has violated the human rights enshrined in the Convention and its protocols. Complaints can be brought by individuals or other contracting states, and the Court can also issue advisory opinions. The Convention was adopted under the auspices of the Council of Europe, and all of its 47 member states are parties to the Convention.

What SkyDox Delivered...

  • Replacement for an existing search and distribution engine used to disseminate final judgments published by the ECHR
  • Creation of a user interface, based on SkyDox, that integrates with ECM, DMS, and search technologies
  • Document search, sharing, and dissemination (push/pull) channel
  • Personalized search refiners to improve relevance
  • Improved case/precedence-related search capability that improves client/case relevance
  • Automated tagging that adds metadata to files so search results become more relevant
  • Reduced operational overhead as legacy systems would require content to be indexed manually
  • Automated Google indexing for public-facing documents
  • Historic searches recorded and users alerted through RSS feeds when new, related material is available

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