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The application of future-oriented technology analysis (FTA) to law: the cases of legal research, legislative drafting and law enforcement

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PurposeThis paper seeks to propose the application of future-oriented technology analysis (FTA) to law. As law traditionally reacts after events and is resistant to change and transformation, the article argues for equipping legal activities with a set of tools, methods and approaches that enables them to acknowledge and anticipate the various possible futures that will guide society. Design/methodology/approachThe paper describes a series of real world examples and case studies ‐ pilot projects, research consortia and academic programmes ‐ that are already employing FTA methodological approaches to pursue their objectives. FindingsBased on these examples, the article explains the various benefits that the application of specific FTA methodological approaches (such as scenario-planning, modelling techniques and backcasting) may bring to three specific legal fields: legal research, legislative drafting and law enforcement. The article also examines the prospective perils that systematically applying FTA to law may bring about. While the introduction of FTA tools and techniques to law is deemed extremely important and useful, the paper also draws attention to the problems and challenges that this entails, indicating paths for future research. Originality/valueFuture-oriented legal studies are rare and, what is worse, the ones that exist lack proper methodology, failing to encompass the use of forecasting methods or foresight tools in the development of their studies. This paper attempts to fill the gap produced by this notorious lack of methodology in the legal analysis of the future, and presents a new methodological approach to law. It proposes the application of future-oriented analysis (FTA) ‐ as a common umbrella term that encompasses foresight, forecasting and technology assessment methods and tools ‐ to the legal sphere.
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Keywords: Forecasting; Foresight; Future-oriented analysis; Law; Modelling; Scenario planning; Strategic planning

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2012-07-20

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