The Journal of Cross-disciplinary Research in Computational Law (CRCL) invites excellence in law, computer science and other relevant disciplines with a focus on two types of ‘legal technologies’: (1) data-driven (e.g. predictive analytics, ‘intelligent’ search) and (2) code-driven (e.g. smart contracts, algorithmic decision-making (ADM), legal expert systems), and (3) their hybrids (e.g. code-driven decision-making based on data-driven research).

Please note that at this moment we are preparing the first issue, which will appear in the second half of 2021. We will open the journal for submissions in the course of 2021, do not hesitate to contact the editors if you have a proposal for a special issue or an article. 

About CRCL ◉ Editorial team ◉ Submissions

Launching of online first articles

The journal has kicked off half November 2020 with an invited article by Wolfgang Hoffmann-Riem, former Justice of the German Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe, who was part of the Court when it decided the seminal case that established the fundamental right to the guarantee of the confidentiality and integrity of information technology systems. By inviting him to contribute to the opening issue of CRCL we emphasise our close attention to legal practice.

The second online-first article (late November 2020) is authored by Mireille Hildebrandt, founding member of journal's editoral team. Her article concerns the normative alterity that is inherent in the different technologies that articulate legal norms, arguing that the normative affordances of text-based technologies enabled the rise of the rule of law. She contends that the transition to data- and code-driven 'legal' technologies will transform legal practice and thereby the mode of existence of modern positive law.  

Legal practice is where computational law will be resisted, used or even fostered. CRCL wishes to raise questions as to (1) when the introduction of legal technologies should be resisted and on what grounds, (2) how and under what conditions they can be integrated into the practice of law and legal research and (3) how their integration may inform, erode or enhance legal protection and the rule of law.

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Online first

  • The adaptive nature of text-driven law

    Mireille Hildebrandt

    This article introduces the concept of ‘technology-driven normativities’, marking the difference between norms, at the generic level, as legitimate expectations that coordinate human interaction, and subsets of norms at specific levels, such as moral or legal norms. The article is focused on the normativity that is generated by text, fleshing out a set of relevant affordances that are crucial for text-driven law and the rule of law. This concerns the ambiguity of natural language, the resulting open texture of legal concepts, the multi-interpretability of legal norms and, finally, the contestability of their application. This leads to an assessment of legal certainty that thrives on the need to interpret, the ability to contest and the concomitant need to decide the applicability and the meaning of relevant legal norms. Legal certainty thus sustains the adaptive nature of legal norms in the face of changing circumstances, which may not be possible for code- or data-driven law. This understanding of legal certainty demonstrates the meaning of legal protection under text-driven law. A proper understanding of the legal protection that is enabled by current positive law (which is text-driven), should inform the assessment of the protection that could be offered by data- or code-driven law, as they will generate other ‘technology-driven normativities’.

    Reply by Michael Rovatsos, Professor of Artificial Intelligence, University of Edinburgh.

  • Legal Technology/Computational Law Preconditions, Opportunities and Risks

    Wolfgang Hoffmann-Riem

    Although computers and digital technologies have existed for many decades, their capabilities today have changed dramatically. Current buzzwords like Big Data, artificial intelligence, robotics, and blockchain are shorthand for further leaps in development. The digitalisation of communication, which is a disruptive innovation, and the associated digital transformation of the economy, culture, politics, and public and private communication – indeed, probably of virtually every area of life – will cause dramatic social change. It is essential to prepare for the fact that digitalisation will also have a growing impact on the legal system.

    Reply by Virginia Dignum, Professor at the Department of Computing Science, Umeå University.

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