Legislation.gov.uk - one year on

Legislation.gov.uk - one year on

By admin On 20 June 2011 In Professional

When we reviewed the launch of the Government’s flagship Legislation.gov.uk last May (see The Myth of Sisyphus), it was with a particular object in mind.

We wanted to counterpoint Government’s current excitement over technology and “Linked data”/semantic web concepts with the more mundane editorial requirements of bringing the formerly named Statute Law Database up-to-date.

The argument still holds good but one year on there are other aspects of the development of Legislation.gov.uk which merit attention and indeed congratulation.

First of all there is the extension of the work on secondary legislation draughting. 100% of SIs are now originated via the Word template tool in which is embedded the schema of the overall grand legislative linked data design. More significantly, at least one major department is contributing financially to engage the services of the Legislation.gov.uk team in helping them to consolidate and streamline their secondary legislation inheritance.

A second significant feature is a reaching out to legal publishers – previously kept at bay for good reasons of independence and procurement purity – for help in filling in gaps in the legislative corpus (to which we had drawn attention). Westlaw’s contribution of access to the originals of pre-1987 SIs  is the first such cooperation between Government and the legal publishers and the team at Legislation.gov.uk are keen that it be followed by other gap filling co-operations with publishers and other parties.

So hats off to the team at the National Archives (formerly OPSI, formerly and still by law HMSO – is branding by any chance an issue?). Though they might sometimes get more publicity for their undoubted Semantic web/Linked data technology prowess, their lasting and sturdy contributions are to building access to the entire corpus of law, and integrating over time the process of law draughting and consolidation.

With metadata disciplines driven upwards via common tools and the pooling of resources, the original vision of the Statute Law Database becoming an aid to draughting may at last be coming closer, twenty years after it was first championed.

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