Die Entstehung von Gesetzen in Skandinavien
Volume 78 (2014) / Issue 2, pp. 383-414 (32)
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The Process of Law Making in Scandinavia In all Scandinavian Countries (in Denmark with the Faroe Islands and Greenland, in Finland with the Åland Islands, in Iceland, Norway, and Sweden) legislative materials are regarded as very important documents – so important that lawyers sometimes forget that the law primarily has to be identified by means of the enacted text of the statute and not the materials. Law-making procedures are streamlined and similar in all Scandinavian countries and so are the main documents emanating from them. The series of documents usually starts with a report of a government-appointed committee, which will be circulated for comment. Report and comment will be considered by the government, and a government bill will be drafted, which after extensive internal checks and necessary adjustments will be sent to parliament. Members of parliament may propose changes, and their motions will be considered together with the bill by one of parliament's standing committees. The committee will report on the matter to the full house and submit its recommendations for a formal vote. Then, the house will debate the report and the recommendations and will finally vote on the recommendations as such – not on any reasons for or against the legislation. Both the debate and the vote will be recorded in minutes. And finally, parliament will notify the government of its decision. The government then will publish the adopted act in the Official Gazette. Nowadays almost all key documents (committee reports, hearing results, government bills, reports of parliamentary committees, minutes of parliamentary debates, and adopted acts) are highly standardized. All are published, with only very rare exceptions. Extensive publication on internet sites of both the government and parliament is the rule in all Scandinavian countries. Through these interlinked sites all key documents are easily available and accessible for everyone. Professional legal research has traditionally been made easy by footnotes or endnotes to published documents, now elaborate linkage systems across internet sites facilitate it even more. As a consequence, legislative materials have gained enormous importance even for everyday legal work. The methodological difficulties, which their use had caused earlier and which jurisprudence traditionally had to deal with, are more or less evaporating by means of the ease of use of travaux préparatoires in Scandinavia today. But the advice has to be honored that the law must be identified primarily by means of the enacted text.