Westlaw UK is a service I have a lot of time for generally. Has a better UI and general look and feel than a certain competitor in the market and also tends to be better for most case and legislation searches.
The other day I need to do a search to look for a definition of ‘market price’. In particular if it had been defined in case law. I open up Westlaw, select case search, and look at my options for search:
Free Text Party Names Citation Term Defined
As I’m looking for a definition of a term, it looked like Term Defined would be my logical first place to search.
I entered into the search box: Market Price. As I do so, Westlaw suggests that I want to search for market price of the article. I don’t so I leave it as Market Price. I hit search.
I get an error message:
Your query contains a misplaced connector. A search term must precede and follow a connector.
Hmm. I wasn’t aware my search contained ANY connectors, unless Market or Price were connectors Westlaw used, that I was not previously aware of. Next to the search box, is a handy ‘i’ for information symbol. Hovering over that it says: e.g. international agreement
I try again. Same result.
I decide on a different approach. I decide to use quotation marks, so this time search for “market price”
Doesn’t like that either.
“” Your query contains misplaced quotation marks. Search terms must appear between a set of quotation marks.
Err, My search terms ARE between a set of quotation marks.
So, it must be broke, right?
Wrong. According to Westlaw the Term Defined box only works with terms that are included in their ‘Word Wheel’ – such as ‘market price of the article’ , it seems. They didn’t actually explain, why they don’t explain anywhere that that is how the Term Defined search works, nor why the error messages associated with it are totally nonsensical. How about an error message that says, that the term can’t be found beacuse not in Word Wheel and a link to what the Word Wheel is, and just what it is for?
In the end I used Free Text search and connectors to find what I was looking for, but still ended my session more than a little annoyed.