Designing Effective Legislation
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Designing Effective Legislation

Maria Mousmouti

What is effective legislation? Is it a matter of intuition, luck or the result of evidence based law making? Can it be consciously ‘engineered’? This book advances the novel idea that legislative effectiveness is the result of complex ‘mechanics’ in the conceptualisation, design and drafting of four elements inherent in every law: purpose, content, context and results. It concludes that effectiveness can be achieved with conceptual and methodological insights that guide the specific choices of lawmakers when designing and drafting legislation.
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Chapter 3: The content of legislation

Maria Mousmouti


Every law comes with a ‘formula’ that determines how objectives and expected results will be achieved. Designing the content of the law is the ‘heart’ of lawmaking: lawmakers confer rights or establish obligations, make decisions on enforcement and implementation procedures and mechanisms, decide how to incentivise compliance, and communicate the messages of the law. How can they anticipate what is most likely to work best? Legislative design is key to effective lawmaking: it allows sufficient space to compose the broader picture, sketch the overall logic of the law and identify the appropriate mechanics before going into minuscule detail. Effective content requires a clear legislative strategy, mechanics informed by evidence and experience, active anticipation of compliance, enforcement and implementation, clear messages and openness to experimentation.

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