(Originally published in Volume 1, issue 2, of Law Ireland.

In the 1990s, with the increased accessibility of the internet and the development of the world wide web, a debate developed over whether this required a new type of law. It was suggested by Judge Frank H. Easterbrook of the US Court of Appeals in 1996 that there should not be any new study of “cyberlaw”:

“…the best way to learn the law applicable to specialized endeavors is to study general rules. Lots of cases deal with sales of horses; others deal with people kicked by horses; still more deal with the licensing and racing of horses, or with the care veterinarians give to horses, or with prizes at horse shows. Any effort to collect these strands into a course on ‘The Law of the Horse’ is doomed to be shallow and to miss unifying principles.”

Harvard professor Lawrence Lessig countered in 1999 with a paper entitled ‘The Law of the Horse: What Cyberlaw Might Teach.’.

A practical application of the ‘Law of the Horse’ debate can be shown by searching for the term ‘horse’ in our sister publication, Stare Decisis Hibernia. Since 2011, there have been Irish judgments on: the contamination of horse food; the grant of licences for jaunting cars; the enforcement of the Rules of Racing by the Turf Club against a trainer and jockey; a claim by trainers for a share in prize money; the sale of horse meat under the label of beef; an award of damages to an owner of stray horses destroyed by a local authority; and personal injuries awards arising from accidents involving horses.

While these cases involve disparate areas of law, requiring a knowledge of different disciplines, they would mostly be of some interest to solicitors or barristers whose clients included, for example, stud farms, horse dealers or racetracks.

At Law Ireland, we face a different aspect of what is ultimately the same debate: how to categorise judgments. Readers have asked us why we do not list our reports under different categories. The answer is that it is not generally as easy to categorise them as might have been expected.

Even criminal cases, which might be thought of as a class of their own, often address matters of relevance to civil cases: the admissibility of certain evidence; the rights of persons suffering from a mental disability; or constitutional rights to property or the good name.

For this reason, we have decided to address the issue by applying abbreviations to reports instead of grouping them in categories. As will be seen in this issue alone, the majority of reports belong to at least two separate categories.

Sharp-eyed readers may ask why there is no abbreviation for “horse”. The answer is that there are no reports in the current issue on equine matters. Even if there were, they would be given the abbreviation “Ani”, for “Animals”.

Mark Tottenham