Subscribers to Thomson Reuters Westlaw and hard-copy reporter volumes got a surprise last night: An email informing them that TR had erroneously omitted small portions of text from some 600 cases published since November 2014.
“As part of our commitment to transparency,” said the email from Andy Martens, global head of product and editorial, “I wanted to alert you to some errors related to publishing cases in Westlaw and our print volumes that we have now corrected.”
The email, which is also posted online, went on to say that TR learned last month that small portions of text were missing in a number of new cases. TR attributed the errors to a November 2014 upgrade to its PDF conversion process.
We immediately conducted an investigation, which revealed that approximately one-half of one percent (0.5%) of total decisions added to our collection during this period were affected by these issues. We have now corrected those cases on Westlaw and we will be shipping replacement print volumes to all affected customers as soon as possible. We will work closely with those customers to minimize any disruption.
The email said that none of the omissions “resulted in any change to the meaning of the law.”
An FAQ provided further detail:
We traced the problem to an upgrade to the PDF conversion process that takes opinions from the courts and puts them in a format that can be published on Westlaw and in print. The problem has now been resolved, and we have created new processes to keep the error from reoccurring.
“We are very aware of our crucial role in supporting the U.S. legal system, and there is nothing more important to us than delivering the best possible solutions and customer service to you,” the email concluded. “Please accept our apologies for our errors. We are very sorry for the inconvenience.”
One point left unanswered in the email is how TR discovered the glitch. Did its own quality control processes pick it up or was it alerted by an outside source?