California Enacts Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act

(September 18, 2012) -

Uniform Law Commission
111 N. Wabash Ave., Suite 1010, Chicago, IL  60602
312-450-6600, www.uniformlaws.org

Contact:  Katie Robinson, ULC Communications Officer, Katie.robinson@uniformlaws.org 

For Immediate Release:

California Enacts Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act
Becomes 2nd State to Enact UELMA

September 18, 2012 – California has recently become the second state in the country to enact the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act (UELMA), an important new state law which establishes an outcomes-based, technology-neutral framework for providing online legal material with the same level of trustworthiness traditionally provided by publication in a law book.  UELMA, introduced in California as SB 1075, was signed into law by California Governor Jerry Brown on September 13.

The Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act addresses many of the concerns posed by the publication of state primary legal material online.  UELMA provides a technology-neutral, outcomes-based approach to ensuring that online state legal material deemed official will be preserved and will be permanently available to the public in unaltered form.  It furthers states policies of accountability and transparency in providing legal information to the public.

The Act applies to electronic legal material that has been designated official.  Four categories of basic state legal material are specifically named in the Act, including the state constitution, state session laws, codified laws, and agency regulations which have the effect of law.  The state has discretion to include any other publications it desires.

The Act requires that official electronic legal material be: 

    1. Authenticated, by providing a method to determine that it is unaltered;
    2. Preserved, either in electronic or print form; and
    3. Accessible, for use by the public on a permanent basis.

The UELMA does not require specific technologies, leaving the choice of technology for authentication and preservation up to the states.

UELMA was drafted and approved by the Uniform Law Commission in 2011.  It was enacted earlier this year in Colorado, and has also been introduced this year in Connecticut, Minnesota, Rhode Island, and Tennessee.  Further information on the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act can be found at the ULC’s website at www.uniformlaws.org.  

The Uniform Law Commission, now in its 121st year, comprises more than 350 practicing lawyers, governmental lawyers, judges, law professors, and lawyer-legislators from every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  Uniform law commissioners are appointed by their states to draft and promote enactment of uniform laws that are designed to solve problems common to all the states.

After receiving the ULC’s seal of approval, a uniform act is officially promulgated for consideration by the states, and legislatures are urged to adopt it.  Since its inception in 1892, the ULC has been responsible for more than 200 acts, among them such bulwarks of state statutory law as the Uniform Commercial Code, the Uniform Probate Code, the Uniform Partnership Act, and the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act.