A Rules-based Approach to Measuring Prescriptivity in Canadian Regulations
6 Pages Posted: 3 Nov 2018 Last revised: 3 Feb 2019
Date Written: October 11, 2018
Legislative drafters follow formalized conventions when crafting statutory and regulatory texts. This article investigates how such conventions can facilitate rules-based information extraction. Using regulatory reform as a case study, we apply rules derived from legislative drafting to automatically measure prescriptivity in federal Canadian regulations. Prescriptivity, understood as a relative concept of commands in relation to permissions, is a key concept in regulatory reform as countries seek to adjust the administrative burden placed on their companies and citizens. Canadian legislative drafters express commands and permissions through standardized language. We measured prescriptivity by counting associated signaling terms across a corpus of 2300 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.
Keywords: Legislative drafting, regulations, regulatory reform, prescriptivity, dictionary approach
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