Article ‘Combining Efficiency and Transparancy in Legislative Processes’ in Issue 3 of The Theory and Practice of Legislation (2015)

Theory and Practice of Legislation

The abstract of the article, co-authored with Wim Voermans and Reijer Passchier, reads as follows:

‘In this contribution, we will illustrate the modern-day dynamics of the interplay between the need for expedience and efficiency on the one hand, and the demand for openness, inclusiveness and transparency on the other by looking into one of government’s main decision-making processes: the legislative process. Particularly in the field of legislation, the balancing of both efficiency and transparency is of the essence for modern legislatures in parliamentary democracies: laws expressed by acts and legislative instruments can only be truly effective if they rest on broad societal support. As we will argue, a transparent and inclusive legislative process functions as a kind of democratic check on government action: it guarantees sufficient deliberative activity before a government may act. Throughout our contribution, a 2012 comparative study commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice, and carried out by an interdisciplinary team of researchers from Leiden University will be used as a guiding rail to illustrate some the ways in which different jurisdictions in Europe have managed to combine, or at least balance, the need for legislative efficiency and transparency. We will use this study to demonstrate how traditional legislative processes nowadays grapple to translate the will of the citizens into effective legislation, how modern administrations still need democratically underpinned legislative procedures as the basis for the legitimation of (their) decisions, how efficient delivery of decisions and careful (lengthy) scrutiny interact. On the basis of this material we will further discuss concepts of, respectively, efficiency and transparency and especially the way modern legislatures examined in the study use information and communication technology (ICT) to overcome the sometimes opposing demands on their legislative processes. Insofar as possible we will try to highlight a few ‘best practices’ that show how legislative processes can (and cannot) adapt to new present day demands.’

For access options of the full article, see:

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/20508840.2015.1133398.

About the journal:

‘The  Theory and Practice of Legislation aims to offer an international and interdisciplinary forum for the examination of legislation. The focus of the journal, which succeeds the former title  Legisprudence, remains with legislation in its broadest sense. Legislation is seen as both process and product, reflection of theoretical assumptions and a skill. The journal addresses formal legislation, and its alternatives (such as covenants, regulation by non-state actors etc.).

The editors welcome articles on systematic (as opposed to historical) issues, including drafting techniques, the introduction of open standards, evidence-based drafting, pre- and post-legislative scrutiny for effectiveness and efficiency, the utility and necessity of codification, IT in legislation, the legitimacy of legislation in view of fundamental principles and rights, law and language, and the link between legislator and judge. Comparative and interdisciplinary approaches are encouraged. But dogmatic descriptions of positive law are outside the scope of the journal. The journal offers a combination of themed issues and general issues.
All articles are submitted to double blind review.’

Publication of report ‘Legislative processes in transition; a comparative study of the legislative processes in Finland, Slovenia and the United Kingdom as a source of inspiration for enhancing the efficiency of the Dutch legislative process’

 

In the Netherlands, since January 2011 a taskforce for faster legislation has been active within the framework of the Interdepartmental Commission for Constitutional Affairs with repect to Legislative Policy (ICCW), as a result of the policy aims and objectives of the Rutte cabinets. This taskforce looks at the question which measures have been taken and are currently being taken to accelerate the legislative process (and how consistent these measures are), and develops proposals for further measures concerning both the internal and external phases of the procedure with respect to process and support.

The above study, which I co-authored with several colleagues from the Department of Public Law and the Department of Public Administration, was commissioned by the WODC (the research centre of the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice) at the request of the Section of Legislative Quality of the Ministry of Security & Justice as an input for the Interdepartmental Commission on Legislation (ICCW).

The main research question of the study is whether the efficiency of the Dutch legislative procedure for parliamentary acts indeed constitutes a problem, in particular if we compare it to the achievements of legislative processes in several other European countries and, if that turns out to be the case, whether lessons can be learned from those legislative processes and practices abroad with respect to pace and duration of the legislative process, phases and actors, transparency and the role of ICT.

For the study, see http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2188870.