The comprehensive tome Handbuch der Rechtsförmlichkeit contains rules and recommendations for authoring German legislative documents. Documents must comply with strict formal legal and content requirements. But who has the time to delve into all these details? Ensuring consistent wording of the complex content of proposed legislation is a demanding enough task as is.
eNorm helps the legislative drafter to concentrate on what is essential. This Microsoft Word add-in supports and checks the authoring and word processing of legal texts. It automatically ensures that no formal errors are introduced: indentation and bulleting are always consistent; the user is guided by eNorm in properly structuring the document into articles, sections, paragraphs, etc. eNorm aids in enforcing the rules contained in Handbuch der Rechtsförmlichkeit. Checking document quality can be done at any time: the user is informed about any deviation from the rules if no automatic correction by eNorm is possible.
Citation and referencing are also subjected to a content check during authoring and displayed in the text. This is aided by the link to central legal databases. The various versions represented by a bill’s odyssey through various bodies are rendered in synoptic form, making the tracking of amendments easy.
If documents complying with formal legal requirements can be created already at the beginning of the legislation consultation process, all downstream stakeholders along the authoring chain can collaborate in a consistent and seamless manner, thus avoiding the trouble caused by disparate media and systems.
The Federal Ministry of Justice is in charge of the legislative process and the promulgation of laws at the level of the federal government. That is why it assumed lead management for eNorm on behalf of the German federal government in close cooperation with the Bundestag. As a result, all ministries have a single point of contact that coordinates the continued development and maintenance of eNorm.
A slightly modified version of eNorm is available to the state governments since the legislative process at the state level is similar. In some states eNorm is also used for authoring administrative regulations and treaties.
We created the LegisWrite system for the European Commission already in 1994. Since this time LegisWrite has undergone continuous updating and improvement. LegisWrite supports the European legislative process at thousands of desks. The formal requirements to be satisfied by German legislative documents extend far beyond those applicable to European documents, the result being that eNorm contains a comprehensive range of enhancements and functional improvements as compared to LegisWrite. The eNorm variant for the federal ministries and agencies and the Bundestag has undergone continued further development since 2005. Nowadays eNorm documents are used for the most part in the federal legislative process.
eNorm/LegisWrite are excellent examples of how Microsoft Word can be transformed into a text processing system that, like an XML editor, guides and enables the writer to author content while applying a clear-cut structure. The texts authored in this manner comply with a specified document structure (as given by the DTD, or Document Type Definition), thus enabling downstream processing to be automated. Transfer of data into databases like Juris is easy as is the postprocessing of documents in photosetting systems and their automated publication (also on the Internet).
eNorm — like its underlying system LegisWrite — is based on Microsoft Word. Its functionality has been preserved and enhanced through many versions of Word including the current eNorm version, which uses Word 2010 and Windows 7.
Implementation is based on:
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