Courts.ie is a pretty difficult website to navigate. As government-type websites go, it probably has more information than you might expect. There is lots of room for improvement though. Apparently, in line with guidance from the Data Protection Commissioner, Courts.ie blocks Google from indexing its website. This relates to the so-called “right to be forgotten”.
However, access to information rights are not limited to access to government documents via FOI or AIE, they also extend to courts documents. In Ireland the system is positively Victorian.
A quick examination of the Courts Robots.txt file tells us how the indexing works. Robots.txt is the file that tells search engines what they can and can’t index. Here’s the Courts one:
Which basically tells Google to feck off from the legal diary and judgments. The text that appears in these pages won’t appear on Google search results. This makes tracking Courts.ie all the more difficult, but also all the more essential, particularly for journalists.
Tracking court filings is one of the basics of journalism, it’s a shame the Courts website doesn’t make it easier.