Digital Democracy and Law

There’s an interesting Parliamentary initiative being run, I believe, as a Speaker’s Commission, on digital democracy.  They have a call for evidence here (and as I understand it we don’t have to feel we are experts for responses to be worthwhile).  In broad terms the questions they are looking at are:

  • Could technology improve the access to and usability of both legislation and the law-making process for the citizen, representatives and professionals (such as lawyers), and if so do you have any suggestions?

  • Should you need to be a lawyer to understand and use an Act?
  • Should technology be used to integrate citizens’ views better into the legislative process? At what stage of the legislative process would this work best? How could the Public Reading Stage be improved?
  • Are there any examples from other parliaments/democratic institutions in the UK or elsewhere of using technology to enhance legislation and the legislative process, which the Commission should consider

The answers seem to me to be: yes, as little as possible which would also reduce the occasions on which lawyers don’t understand legislation, um, and yes.  There’s a nice blog by one of the Commission team which looks like it is worth a follow.  That seems to me to suggest that when there is a mutual recognition that the system is crazy, then perhaps things can change.  A little at first, and then perhaps more radically.  I am no expert, and will try and send some thoughts along.  I know many of my readers have more informed and informative perspectives about this, and I encourage them to do the same. But better. To pick up on one of the metaphors in Emma Mulqueeny’s post, from little scribbles chaos or incremental improvement grows… or maybe more than that.

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About Richard Moorhead

Director of the Centre for Ethics and Law and Professor of Law and Professional Ethics at the Faculty of Laws, University College London with an interest in teaching and research on the legal ethics, the professions, legal aid, access to justice and the courts.
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One Response to Digital Democracy and Law

  1. Pingback: IFP Media Law Round Up | ELSA United Kingdom

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