Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Infographic: What the WA Supreme Court did in 2010

With the help of the miracle of computers, I've created this chart of first-level catchwords of the cases decided by the WA Supreme Court (not including the Court of Appeal) in 2010, which gives an interesting overview of where the court spends its time. Mouse-over a section for more info. (Update: This does not work in the RSS feed - please click through to the blog see the chart.)

Topics the WA Supreme Court considered in 2010
[2010] WASC cases by catchword

Catchwords are the way the court categorises issues decided upon in a case. For example, the catchwords for one case read:
Practice and procedure - Application for summary judgment - Whether the defendant has an arguable defence - Turns on own facts
Any case can have any number of sets of catchwords. For example, another case has the following two sets of catchwords:
Arbitration - Award of arbitrator - Application for leave to appeal on question of law - Whether various findings by arbitrator provide strong evidence of or amount to a manifest error of law
Arbitration - Application to set aside award for misconduct - Whether arbitrator breached rules of natural justice by determining an issue not pleaded - Factors governing the exercise of the discretion to set aside award
Construction of the chart
  1. Every 2010 WASC decision was downloaded, and the keywords extracted.
  2. The first catchword from each set was extracted (the part before the first dash). For example, the first catchwords from the above sets are "Practice and procedure", "Arbitration" and "Arbitration".
  3. Similar catchwords were merged. For example, "Criminal law and procedure" was combined into "Criminal law". Another example: "Real property", "Indefeasibility", "Sale of land", etc., were all combined into "Property".
  4. The merged catchwords were counted and the results charted above.
The merging process, and the catchwords themselves, are inexact. Therefore the results, while indicative, should not be relied upon for anything serious.

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