Good Law

Today in a conversation with John Sheridan of The National Archives and Richard Heaton of the UK Cabinet Office, I learned about the concept of Good Law (designated by the hashtag #goodlaw) which I’d seen John referring to recently.

They explained that Good Law is a new idea they are currently developing. Good Law has (at least) three aspects:

  • Quality of substantive legislation, in terms of appropriateness, effectiveness, etc.;
  • Complexity of legislation: When is complexity in legislation a bad thing? What are the causes of complexity?
  • Intellectual accessibility or Readability of legislation, for example in terms of principles of plain language, etc., and
  • Technological accessibility of legislation: in terms of retrievability, usability, etc.

(And I hope John will correct me if I’ve gotten any of this wrong.)

This is, I think, a very intriguing idea, particularly for the legal informatics community, because members of that community include those who work on improving technological accessibility and usability of electronic legal information, and those who work on making the law more comprehensible to the public, through means such as public legal education and the promotion of plain language principles.

So Good Law has the potential to engage many subgroups within and near our field, including legal informatics scholars, developers of legal information systems, the free access to law community, the plain legal language community, law librarians, advocates of democracy and of public participation in government, and advocates of law reform.

The inclusion of both intellectual and technological accessibility within a single concept that is related to policy action is extremely exciting. I look forward to learning more.

John’s and Richard’s comments about #goodlaw today are at the following links:

To see additional comments about this post, please see the version of the post on Google +.

[NOTE: Updated 13 December 2012 to add Richard’s point about complexity of legislation.]

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5 Responses to Good Law

  1. RT @RHCabinetOffice Thanks @richards1000. One more dimension to #goodlaw: When is complexity in legislation a bad thing? What are the causes of complexity?

  2. RT @propylonsean @RHCabinetOffice @richards1000 Complexity in law is a bad thing when it is a consequence of the expression medium i.e. not ab initio.

  3. RT @AlicePilia @richards1000 engagement & communication on legislation also key to #goodlaw to improve accessibility & mitigate perception of complexity

  4. interesting comments about #goodlaw , here: & here:

  5. John Sheridan of The National Archives tells us that the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel is launching “the ‘good law’ initiative with the aim of improving the user’s experience of legislation,” with an event to be held 16 April 2013, at the Institute for Government, London:

    John is speaking at the event.

    The Twitter hashtag for the project is #goodlaw

    HT @johnlsheridan

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