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Case Law Analytics

Discovering new patterns in Dutch court decisions

Image: Jeroen Bouman – ICJ – JCI hearing (CC License)

Case synthesis is the method commonly applied by legal researchers and law students when analyzing court decisions. It essentially entails that case outcomes are compared with the facts of the cases, with the purpose of explaining the differences in outcomes by the differences in facts. The analysis of court decisions commonly relies on human analysis, without software or other technical aid. Consequently, case law is analyzedbased on a relatively small number of cases. In contrast, the law produces numerous cases. In 2013 alone, Dutch courts of first instance handled almost 800,000 private law cases (for example contract termination, damages, divorce).Consequently, the legal field currently studies a fraction of the cases that are out there. As a result, relationships between cases are therefore likely to be hidden.

This project aims to develop a technology that assists the legal community in analyzing case law. With tens of thousands court decisions (in the Netherlands) that are published yearly, numerous decisions remain unstudied. In this project, a technology will be built that allows analyses of which court decisions are central in a network of decisions. This will be done by focusing on citations: the number of references to a certain court decision in other court decisions (in-degree centrality).

The in-degree centrality of court decisions is likely reveal new patterns among decisions on various topics. Moreover, it will shed more light on which decisions are the most important within a certain network. The automated process that will be developed enhances the analysis of relationships among a large number of decisions. Future projects may expand the application by

This project (and future projects) can fundamentally transform the way the law is studied (researchers, students) and used (practitioners).

Participating organisations

Maastricht University
Netherlands eScience Center
Social Sciences & Humanities
Social Sciences & Humanities

Impact

  • 1.
    Moneylaw and Beyond.
    Published in 2017

Output

  • 1.
    Moneylaw and Beyond.
    Author(s): Gijs van Dijck
    Published by Eleven Intl Pub in 2017
  • 1.
    Netwerkanalyse van werkgeversaansprakelijkheid
    Author(s): van Dijck, Gijs, van Kuppevelt, Dafne
    Published in Nederlands Juristenblad by Nederlands Juristenblad in 2019

Team

Dafne van Kuppevelt
Dafne van Kuppevelt
eScience Research Engineer
Netherlands eScience Center
GvD
Gijs van Dijck
Principal investigator
Maastricht University
Jisk Attema
Programme Manager
Netherlands eScience Center
Rena Bakhshi
Rena Bakhshi
Programme Manager
Netherlands eScience Center

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Related software

Case Law App

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Web application for exploring the citation network of Dutch court decisions.

Updated 15 months ago
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caselawnet

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Caselawnet constructs citation networks from collections of Dutch case law.

Updated 15 months ago
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