Big Data for Law

New research project aims to transform how current legislation is understood and used.

The UK’s National Archives has announced the launch of the 'Big Data for Law' project, which aims to transform how current legislation is understand and used. According  to The National Archives, the research "will underpin the drive to deliver good, clear and effective law". Part of the project will be the delivery of a new service – Research – by March 2015. LexisNexis UK will be a project partner.

It is estimated that there are 50 million words in the UK statute book, and a further 100,000 are added or changed every month.  Tools such as (which contains most types of UK Legislation, including all legislation from 1988 to the present day, and most pre-1988 primary legislation) have widened access, but users must still grapple with high volume, piecemeal, frequently amended and complex resources.

According to The National Archives, researchers "typically lack the raw data, the tools, and the methods to undertake research across the whole statute book." It is this need that the project seeks to address, by providing a new Legislation Data Research Infrastructure consisting of downloadable data, online tools for end-users, and open source tools for researchers to download, adapt and use.

The research will focus on three main areas: understanding reseachers’ needs; deriving new open data from closed data (for example by identifying clusters in legislation or creating 'recommendations' datasets), and exploring the use of pattern language for legislation to create a structured method of describing good design practices. This in turn, says The National Archives, might lead to the identification of "useful and effective drafting practices and solutions that deliver good law."

More information here

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