Law Reform Commission of Ireland Report on Accessibility of Legislation in the Digital Age

Law reform commission reports can be great sources for legal research. Many of the reports provide historical background and you can often find comparative information about how different jurisdictions have responded to an issue.

Case in point:

The Law Reform Commission of Ireland last week released a report on the Accessibility of Legislation in the Digital Age that makes a wide range of recommendations as to how legislation can be made available online in a more consolidated and comprehensive way.

Chapter 3 of the report, “Comparative Approaches to Making Legislation Accessible”, considers, from an historical perspective, legislative developments that have taken place in other jurisdictions, encompassing both common and civil law traditions, including France, Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

The Chapter looks at various measures that have been adopted in these jurisdictions to make their respective laws more accessible, for instance codification, statute revision, rolling reprint (“the periodic revision of legislation as it was amended on an ongoing basis and its publication in pamphlet form”, p. 92), online consolidation of amendments, historical point-in-time information, and “officialization” (the recognition by governments of online versions of legislation as the official or semi-official versions of the law).

From the press release:

“The Report points out that there are over 3,000 Acts in force (of which more than 1,000 are pre-1922 Acts from before the State was established) and the vast majority of these Acts have been amended
many times, but they are not all available in their up-to-date, as-amended format.”

“The Report points out that this is not satisfactory from a number of perspectives, including:

  • the constitutional or rule of law perspective: it is vital that all citizens have access to the law as it currently stands; and
  • the economic and digital policy perspective: improving online access to legislation is consistent with the State’s policy on reducing the cost of doing business, and also ‘digital by design’ policy, including GovTech, which involves applying emerging technologies such as advanced data processing to improve the delivery of public services (…)”

“The Report being published today seeks to build on these significant improvements by proposing additional methods to make more legislation, whether as enacted or in its amended form, available online in this digital age. In doing so the Report discusses how other countries have addressed these problems, for example:

  • enactment of comprehensive codes of legislation, such as the legislative codes in the United States, where all federal law can be found online under 54 subject headings, called Titles, of the United States Code: one of its best-known is Title 11, the bankruptcy code; and
  • consolidation of priority areas of legislation, such as in New Zealand and Wales where planned programmes of consolidation must be presented to their parliaments.”

There is always a chance that a law commission has looked at a legal issue you may be working on.

And now I also know a few words in Gaelic.

Comments

  1. Hi Michel-Adrien (if I may), thanks so much for drawing attention to our Report. We try our best to engage in comparative research, and Canada often features because of its innovative approaches, whether in terms of legislation or case law (including rights-based analysis). Thanks once again, and I hope you are keeping safe and well. Best regards, Ray Byrne, Commissioner, Law Reform Commission, Ireland, http://www.lawreform.ie.

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