Power to the People

Published on 16 July 2019 at 17:13

Three years ago, we were invited to submit a proposal to upgrade the website that published legislation for the Falkland Islands Government. Our suggestion was to change the way the laws were written, captured and amended and move the information onto a well-structured Git repository. 


We wanted a solution that looked beyond current laws and allowed members of the public and parliament to submit pull-requests and move the debate online. Coming from a software development background, we believed the distributed source control system of Git would revolutionise the writing of legislature. Our suggestion fell on deaf ears, and the client opted for a vanilla website upgrade instead. 

We find a similar issue at legislation.gov.uk who have recently invited tenders to upgrade their website. Will the entire process be updated in line with modern legal publishing practice and will we arrive at an innovative new process of introducing public debate around the introduction of the new legislature? The timing couldn't be better as we can note how Washington DC recently made GitHub the authoritative digital source for DC laws, highlighting a real government innovation.

Moving to Git would allow citizens to have input and legislative decisions would be reviewed by the whole country, in near real-time. Lawmakers would be able to participate in the debate and consider all views, which would be a genuinely open and democratic way of introducing new laws.

With the complicated process of exiting the EU, particularly surrounding the legal framework, our solution would add tremendous value to the United Kingdom and revolutionise what has become a tired cumbersome process. As it stands, the public has zero input into the creation of new laws, and we would welcome a future where lawmaking is a collaborative exercise where ordinary citizens may have a say in the laws which govern our country.

We believe that a distributed source-code repository-based technology such as Git would enable a step change in the way our law is written, stored, amended and accessed.


#parliament #legislation #legal #law #publishing #SoftwareDevelopment #devops #github #git

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