Analysis of Legal References in an Emergency Legislative Setting

Palmirani, P., Bianchi, I., Cervone, L., & Draicchio, F., 2015.
Analysis of Legal References in an Emergency Legislative Setting
paper prepared for the JURIX 2015, 28th International Conference on “Legal Knowledge and Information Systems”, Braga, Portugal, 9-11 December, 2015

Each legal system is a complex network of norms, and the normative citations in the texts are the legal method for referring to other parts of the same legal system in diachronically (dynamically over time) or synchronically (statically) [Palmirani 2006].
Normative citations are the textual part of a legal document that refers to another legal source in the same legal system (e.g., Section 3 of the Human Rights Act 1998 in the UK legal system) or also to other legal systems (e.g., European directives). One of the most relevant legislative techniques 1 uses citations to summarize the verbosity of norms, create semantic relationships between different normative resources, or amend the original text. We can classify citations using this taxonomy: (i) internal and external to the same document; (ii) dynamic or static at a given time (e.g., London Regional Transport Act 1984 and later London Regional Transport Act 1996); (iii) citations that express semantic normative specification (extension or restriction; see also interpretation); (iv) citations for referring to an already expressed piece of text already without duplicating it (shortcut); (v) citations that semantically connect different documents under the same topic (clustering). In all these cases citations set up an interesting apparatus for analyzing a country’s legislative approach. In particular, it is possible to understand the legal drafting techniques adopted, as well as to detect anomalies in order to increase the effectiveness of normative action.
On the basis of these arguments, this paper investigates the references of a legal corpus of the ordinances issued by the Regional Commissioner for Emergency and Reconstruction over the first 18 months after the 2012 earthquake in Emilia-Romagna, Italy. The goal is to analyze the critical issues in the regulative strategy in emergency situations in order to help the lawmaker act better in future disasters, extract information concerning the number and the types of modifications produced, and support the debate on a national law on emergency in the wake of natural disasters. The outcomes here presented are developed as part of the Energie Sisma Emilia research project, conducted by a consortium of universities in the Emilia-Romagna Region.
This makes it possible to cross-check groupings based on lexical-textual analysis and groupings based on structural elements.