URN-based Identification of Legal Acts: The Case of the Italian Senate

AutoreEnrico Francesconi - Carlo Marchetti - Remigio Pietramala - Pierluigi Spinosa
URN-based Identif‌ication of Legal Acts: The Case
of the Italian Senate
SUMM ARY:1. Introduction – 2. Structure of the Identif‌ier – 3. Reference Model
for URN:LEX: the <local-name>Structure – 4. Structure of the URN:LEX <local-
name>– 5. Structure of the Identif‌ier at Work Level – 6. Structure of the URN:LEX
Identif‌ier at Expression Level – 7. Structure of the Identif‌ier at Manifestation Le vel –
8. URN:LEX References – 9. The Resolution Service – 9.1. Catalogues for Resolution
– 9.2. Suggested Resolver Behaviour – 10. URN Standard within the Italian Senate
– 11. A Tool for Automatic Legal References Mark-up within the Italian Senate Web
Site – 12. Conclusions and Future Perspectives
The growing need of quality and accessibility of legal information forim-
proving transparency and “certainty of law”, as essential pre-condition for
democracy, amplif‌ies the need for interoperability among legal information
systems in national and international setting. A persistent, shared, open
standard identif‌ier for legal documents at international level is the effective
ground to establish such interoperability for the implementation of the Se-
mantic Web concept in the legal domain.
Besides legal content providers, Internet content creators, including pub-
lishers operating well outside the traditional arenas of legal publishing (news,
technical documentation providers, etc.), can benef‌it by this standard be-
cause it facilitates the linking of legal documents and reduces the cost of
information system management and maintenance.
In the last few years a number of initiatives both within and outside Eu-
rope have arisen in the f‌ield of legal document standards to improve legal
document accessibility on the Internet1. In this paper we describe a standard
E. Francesconi and P. Spinosa are Researchers at the Institute of Legal Information
Theory and Techniques of the NationalResearch Council of Italy in Florence; C. Marchetti
and R. Pietramala belong to the Senate of the Republic of Italy. E. Francesconi is Author of
Sections 1, 2, 3, 4 and 9; P. Spinosa is Author of Sections 5, 6, 7, 8 and 12; C. Marchetti and
R. Pietramala are Authors of Sections 10 and 11.
1E. FRAN CESC ONI,Technologies for European Integration. Standards-based Interoperabil-
ity of Legal Information Systems, Firenze, European Press AcademicPublishing, 2007, 174 p.
234 Informatica e diritto /Proceedings of the Workshop LOAIT 2010
for the identif‌ication of sources of law, recently submitted to the IETF as In-
ternet Draft2: it is based on a URN technique3capable of scaling beyond
national boundaries as well as on the def‌inition of a namespace convention
(LEX) and a structure that create and manage identif‌iers for sources of law
at international level.
The identif‌iers will be globally unique, transparent, persistent, location-
independent, and language-neutral. These qualities will facilitate legal docu-
ment management, moreover they will provide a mechanism of stable cross-
collections and cross-country references.
In this direction also the Permanent Bureau of the Hague Conference
on Private International Law4has recently expressed its opinion, encourag-
ing EU Member States to adopt “neutral methods of citation of their legal
materials, including methods that are medium-neutral, provider-neutral and
internationally consistent”.
This paper is organized as follows: in Section 2 the general structure of
the URN:LEX identif‌ier is introduced; in Section 3 the FRBR model, which
the URN:LEX schema is based on, is described; in Sections 4, 5, 6 and 7 the
main components of the schema able to identify legal documents at differ-
ent levels of abstraction are shown; in Section 8 the modalities to establish
references to a document or part of it using the URN:LEX methodology
is brief‌ly discussed; in Section 9 the principles of the resolution service are
described; in Sections 10 and 11 a URN:LEX schema national implementa-
tion and a tool for automatic legal references mark-up as used by the Italian
Senate are respectively described. Finally in Section 12 some conclusions
are reported.
As usual, the problem is to provide the right amount guidance at the core
of the standard while providing suff‌icient f‌lexibility to cover a wide variety
2P.SP INOS A, E. FRAN CESC ONI, C. LU PO,A Uniform Resource Name (URN) Namespace
for Sources of Law (LEX), May 2010, http://datatracker.ietf.org/doc/draft-spinosa-urn- lex/.
3R. MOATS, K.R. SO LLI NS,URN Syntax, RFC 2141, May 1997; T. BER NERS -LEE, R.
FIEL DING, L. M ASINT ER,Uniform Resource Identif‌iers (URI): Generic Syntax, STD 66, RFC
3986, January 2005; L. DAIG LE, D. VAN GU LIK, R. IA NNE LLA, P. FALTSTRO M,Uniform
Resource Names (URN) Namespace Def‌inition Mechanisms, BCP 66, RFC 3406, October 2002.
4See http://www.hcch.net.

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