Analysis of legal-technical and linguistic approaches to the formulation of draft laws and the development of proposals for their adjustment
Goal of research
Study of the array of legislative acts of the Russian Federation (federal laws and federal constitutional laws) adopted after 1993 and conducting their legal tech and linguistic analysis in order to identify negative practices in the formulation of legal norms that impede the perception and clarification of legislation and reduce the level of its readability;
Formulation of proposals for improving the legal tech and linguistic practices of new legislative acts.
- formal legal method;
- expert assessment method;
- expert panel method;
- methods of computer linguistics.
Empirical base of research
First, the authors compiled the legislative corpuses of the Russian Federation that is in force on 12/26/1991, 12/31/1995, 12/31/1999, 12/31/2003, 12/31/2007, 12/31/2011, 12/31/2016, 12/31/2018 (in the editions of laws for the indicated dates).
Then the authors analyzed its legal tech and linguistic approaches. They used methods of computer linguistics for this. Authors have identified the following syntactic characteristics for each corpus, law, and article of the law:
- the number of words in the law, in the article, in the paragraph, in the sentence;
- the number of participles in one sentence;
- average distance between dependent words;
- the ratio of the number of main words and the number of dependent words in phrases;
- the average number of grammatical bases in sentences;
- some other meanings.
Results of research:
- a methodology has been developed for machine analysis of the syntactic complexity of legislative acts with the construction of an integral readability index of syntactic complexity;
- corpuses of federal legislative acts in force at the end of 1991, 1995, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2016 and 2018 were compiled;
- these corpuses were analyzed by parsing methods of computer linguistics with the calculation of the index of syntactic complexity. The authors found that laws since 1993 have become, on average, 30% harder and less readable;
- comprehensive statistics on the syntax of federal law were obtained for the first time;
- an expert analysis of the existing legal tech and linguistic approaches to legislative consolidation of legal norms in legislative acts was carried out;
- the authors described negative linguistic practices for legislative consolidation of legal norms that impede the perception and understanding of the provisions of such acts;
- the authors developed proposals for improving the legal tech and linguistic approaches for the new legislative acts.
Recommendations on implementation
The results of the study can be applied in the practical legislative activity of the Government of the Russian Federation and the State Duma of the Russian Federation.
In particular, the developed Methodological Recommendations on the adjustment of existing legal tech and linguistic approaches to the preparation of draft laws can be used:
- by the federal executive bodies in the development of bills;
- by the The Office of the Government of the Russian Federation when preparing opinions on bills and when deciding whether to introduce a bill for consideration by the State Duma of the Russian Federation;
- by The Legal Department of the Office of the State Duma of the Russian Federation during the legal and linguistic examination of draft laws.