A Rules-based Approach to Measuring Prescriptivity in Canadian Regulations (1:26:23)


  • Professor Wolfgang Alschner, Faculty of Law –Common Law Section, University of Ottawa

Legislative drafters follow formalized conventions when crafting statutory and regulatory texts. Professor Wolfgang Alschner will explore how such conventions can facilitate rules-based information extraction. Using regulatory reform as a case study, he will show how to apply rules derived from legislative drafting to automatically measure prescriptivity—a relative concept of commands in relation to permissions—in federal Canadian regulations. We measured prescriptivity by counting associated signaling terms across a corpus of 2,300 Canadian regulations. The resulting prescriptivity scores meaningfully describe policy-relevant characteristics of regulatory texts. These scores provide a basic metric to inform regulatory reform and highlight the value of rules-based analytics derived from legislative drafting conventions. Professor Alschner will also discuss how to facilitate the review of regulations using a software prototype that helps regulators to tell a “good” regulation worth preserving from a “bad” one in need of amendment or repeal.