Heaton: Good law, nine months on

Richard Heaton of the UK Cabinet Office has posted Good law, nine months on, at the Institute for Government blog.

The post concerns the UK’s Good Law Initiative.

Here are excerpts from the post:

[…] So ‘good law’ [i.e., the UK Government’s Good Law Initiative] was a call to potential partners in the fields of policy, law-making, and law-publishing. Between us, we’re responsible for the quality and accessibility of legislation. How can we, in our own fields or working together, promote law that is clear, necessary, coherent, effective and accessible?

Where is good law, nine months on?

We’ve talked to policy makers and lawyers about the importance of clear, simple law, the availability of alternatives to legislation and the drawbacks of unnecessary legislation. We call this the ‘upstream’ work.

Externally, we’ve tried to demystify law and law-making. We enjoyed taking part in Parliament Week. And we’ve launched a new user testing programme to discover what readers find difficult.

But from the start, ‘good law’ was not a consultation exercise around a set of proposals. We wanted to generate interest, and then get help in identifying tasks that would move things forward. So in the autumn, we returned to the Institute with four working groups. Charities, publishers, academics, and volunteers all generously gave their time to analyse problems and develop ideas.

Here are six areas where we will see progress in 2014.

1. Design […]

2. Drafting tool […]

3. Explanatory notes […]

4. Patching the statute book […]

5. Up to date legislation […]

6. Mapping the statute book [..]

The section on the drafting tool is especially interesting, because it sets out a vision of an e-participation or crowdsourcing system in which citizens could participate in legislative drafting, similar to that of Speaker John Bercow in his program concerning a Parliament for the 21st Century:

We want a new tool for drafting, amending and publishing legislation that can work in a standard web browser. This is potentially transformational. At present, law drafters, parliamentarians and publishers can’t pool their efforts, or work on the same product. A common platform would mean, for example, that we could easily produce marked-up versions of statutes during a Bill’s passage. We know how helpful it would be if they could see the effect on existing legislation of amendments proposed by a Bill. And what might follow? Direct reader collaboration in the creation of legislative text perhaps? We know that other countries are ahead of us in piloting innovative approaches to law-making: Finland, for example (openministry.info); or Brazil (edemocracia.camara.gov.br).

Heaton’s post makes clear that the scope of the Good Law Initiative is remarkable. One reason that the initiative is of particular interest to the legal informatics community is that it integrates many of the current trends in legal informatics and legal communication, in a single program, including:

For more details, please see the complete post.

The Twitter hashtag for the Good Law Initiative is #goodlaw

Click here for earlier posts about the Good Law Initiative.

HT @AileenWalkerUK

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