From Dogma to Data: Exploring How Case Law Evolves

The project was led by Professor Henrik Palmer and was funded by the Free Research Council. The project began December 1st 2014 and ran to November 20th 2017.

Project period: 2014-2017

The project investigated how case law evolves, in a new empirical way. Hopefully, this would provide a better understanding of how the courts work.

When describing the current legal position of a certain area, the common practice has been to use case law to show which laws apply to this area in particular. However, a complete analysis of the rulings from the courts was rarely or never available. This was in part, due to the massive amount of case law. It was simply impossible for one person to read, analyze and systematize all the rulings.  The consequence of this was that the descriptions of legal positions often would be based on subjective choices in terms of what case law was included and what was left out.

However, by starting with the newest developments in automated processing of textual contents, together with network analysis of legal texts, it had become possible to systematically analyze all rulings given by a specific court. In doing so, it was now possible to get a completely new empirical view of what types of cases a court decided, what was decisive in the cases and how the case law had evolved over time. 

Based on a case study of three selected international courts, the project would create a database, which would be the base for communicating far more extensive knowledge on the way the courts work, than we were used to.

This created opportunities for lawyers, as well as ordinary citizens, who would now be able to gather information on the courts case law much faster, than they could before. This would strengthen the rule of law in society, as well as contribute to better legal research and legal education.

From Dogma to Data was part of the network NoLesLaw. Read more about it here.






Independent Research Fund Denmark logo
From Dogma to Data: Exploring How Case Law Evolves received a three year funding from Independent Research Fund Denmark.

Project: From Dogma to Data: Exploring How Case Law Evolves
Free Research Council project ID: DFF – 4003-00164

Period: December 1st 2014 to November 20th 2017


Henrik Palmer Olsen

PI Professor
Henrik Palmer Olsen

South Campus, Building: 6A.2.14
DK 2300 Copenhagen S
Phone: +45 35 32 32 19