How Network Science Is Changing Our Understanding of Law

Original Article:

How Network Science Is Changing Our Understanding of Law


Konaris et al at the National Technical University of Athens in Greece expanded on existing legal network analysis by extracting “all the documents from the European Community’s legal database dating back to 1951” and organizing the texts into three subnetworks: treaties between countries, regulations and directives that are based on these treaties, and case laws that have emerged from the application of these regulations. Analysis of each subsection showed that “all were small world networks in themselves” that generally demonstrate high levels of resilience. This model produced a novel perspective because it takes into account both the temporal dynamism and hierarchical nature of European law. In addition to mapping citations (references that do not modify the target document) Konaris also represented legal bias (edit references that modify either the text or the lifecycle of the target document) and accounted for their effects over time. This revealed “a steep increase in the density of links within the network over time”. Ultimately, Konaris suggests that the clusters and related connections illustrated by this work may “help legislators determine the effect of proposed changes and improve the effectiveness of legal information retrieval”.


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