The Board of the Dutch Judiciary keeps on innovating!
Until recently, to find case law one had to use a browser, navigate through cumbersome Java menus and scroll endlessly. With the introduction of the Open Data van de Rechtspraak RESTful web service, you can send requests directly to the server. This means that if you run a simple script from your Terminal (Mac) or Command Prompt (Windows), within seconds you receive the ECLI index numbers of the cases you are looking for. By enabling users to send selection parameters with the requests, the web services allows searches by time period, institution and many other selection criteria.
For lawyers and researchers using Python, I wrote a few lines of code (available here) to automate these search queries. Just download the file, adjust the parameters and run the script using the applicable command (Mac: just type python rechtspraak_api. py). Note that first you must install the imported libraries. The script uses Python’s BeautifulSoup to strip the case numbers from the server’s XML response and saves them in a text file.
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