Law and Tech education information UM

Modelling legal complexity

The legal system is a complex adaptive system of hundreds of thousands of interrelated legal documents such as legal acts, decrees, legislative memoranda, and court decisions. Legal research traditionally relies on human analysis of this legal information. Humans, however, cannot manually analyse big legal data. This creates barriers to access to law and justice: the high complexity of the legal system makes it difficult to understand the rights it grants and the obligations it imposes upon people.

Like in physics and bioinformatics, modelling big legal data using computational techniques and quantitative methods can provide an innovative understanding of legal complexity. For example by revealing new insights regarding what predicts the duration of legal procedures, the costs of cases, or what are landmark cases and how the importance of landmark cases increases or decreases over time. . These models could, for example, be used to measure integration of European legal orders by quantitatively investigating how case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union is received in the case law of the various Member States. We are constructing descriptive and predictive models of the law with data science and artificial intelligence. 

Law and tech platform UM research

Regulation of disruptive technologies

Technological innovations can disrupt society, both in a beneficial and in an undesirable manner. This creates regulatory challenges that are shared by different legal orders. How do and should legal orders stimulate innovation through the law (e.g. incentives in tax laws, predictive policing in criminal law)?

Furthermore, how should law impact the design of these technologies, especially to ensure legal compliance ‘by design’, for example by including privacy regulation in technology that allows the exchange of health data across legal borders? New business models might also give rise to new legal issues, for instance in the field of influencer marketing, where influencers sell products and are or become products themselves on global social media.

The main subject of investigation of this research line is the relationship that legal orders should have with technological innovation, and how legal issues related to technology impact integration and interaction between legal orders.

Law and tech platform UM Faculty of Law research

Legal issues of the data economy

Data processing and automated decision-making are components of many innovative technologies in the fast-growing global data economy. They are inseparable, because automated systems rely on data processing. These elements come with specific ethical, legal, and social issues, such as issues of privacy, data protection, (cyber)security, intellectual property, taxation and competition law.

These legal issues are international in nature and need responses that also investigate the interaction and integration of legal orders. For example, the role and position of both marketeers and consumers in the marketplace is challenged: lines between purchase and licensed use of goods and services becomes blurred due to Internet of Things devices being capable of sending and receiving service provider and user information across legal borders.

The big data environment poses not only challenges related to data collection and processing, but also to transparency, accountability and liability for automated systems. Finally, these systems can pose a threat to various fundamental rights, such as equality and freedom of expression. Understanding the legal issues involved requires an in-depth understanding of the functioning of data economy and the specific technology in question.

  • Modelling legal complexity

  • Regulation of disruptive technologies

  • Legal issues of the data economy