6 Legisprudence 1 (2012)

handle is hein.journals/legisp6 and id is 1 raw text is: STRUCTURED LEGISLATION: TOWARD THE
J. Scott Marcus*
Why is it so difficult to draft laws and regulations that are coherent, consistent,
and free of logical errors? Electronic communications laws in the European
Union and in the United States (and probably everywhere else) are, we would
contend, replete with 'bugs'  logical errors in their formulation. Some bugs are
small, with limited effect. Others (notably in the United States) can have great
effect. A great deal of effort has been invested over the years in the use of tools
and formal methodologies to interpret existing laws (under the rubric of statutory
construction), but surprisingly little in the use of formal logical methods to create
better laws and regulations in the first place. Could ideas and tools be borrowed
from other disciplines to enable the formulation of laws and regulations that more
accurately express their intended purpose? We contend that the parallels between
large computer programs and large laws and regulatory rulings are far closer than
has been appreciated, and that some of the same techniques that have been
developed over the past four decades to reduce the incidence of errors in
computer programs might profitably be adapted to the task of reducing
inadvertent logical errors in legislation and in regulation. This could serve to
enhance both the accuracy and the maintainability of laws. The examples are
drawn from telecommunications laws and regulations on both sides of the
Atlantic, but the underlying principles are probably relevant to all laws.
Law; regulation; electronic communications; telecommunications; structured
J. Scott Marcus is Director, Department Manager and Senior Consultant for WIK-Consult GmbH in
Bad Honnef, Germany. The support of the German Marshall Fund of the United States for an early
version of the paper in 2004 is gratefully acknowledged. The opinions expressed in this paper do not
necessarily reflect the views of any of the organisations with which I have been affiliated.

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