Legal Concepts and Evaluation

2013 EEEN Forum

Jukka Simila, Petrus Kautto & Jussi Kauppila

Legislative proposals are regularly evaluated in most countries. The variety of the different types of legal proposal is vast: whereas some proposals contain detailed technical rules, some others rather introduce new legal concepts in the form of general principle. The evaluation of policy interventions is generally about defining the relationship between the instrument (inputs/outputs) and its effects (outcomes).

Changes in legal concepts and principles may be so flexible or ambiguous that it is not clear if the proposal will change anything except the wording of legislation or, although all would agree that proposal will cause a change, they disagree about the exact legal meaning of it. Any evaluation of the impacts of legislation requires that evaluators must first create an understanding about how “the state of the legal order”, so to speak, changes because of the proposal. It is only after this when the evaluation can move on to assess the effects to the “real world”; environment, business etc.

ln our paper, we focus to this early stage of impacts assessment of legislative proposals using examples form legislative practice in Finland. The aim of the paper is first to identify what are key conceptual challenges of evaluation and then develop approaches to overcome the identified problems.


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