How Law is Made

I was speaking with my co-worker who used to work in the law office of the government helping draft legislation. He told me how Armenia goes about drafting new laws. It’s not pretty.

First, government researchers will look around at the legal systems of eastern Europe. If there’s something that seems good, they’ll wholly transplant it to Armenia without examining why that country chose to draft the law in that way. No one wants to try something completely new because they don’t want individual blame nor do they want civil society complaining “why aren’t you looking at what <insert European country here> has done?” Instead, the government researchers copy the final laws from a few specific states such as Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, and compare those to France or Germany. They don’t look at Georgia as it is too Western, and there is no point in even mentioning Azerbaijan or Turkey.

One key issue is that they don’t examine the social context of the state that drafted the law. They don’t look at how those states came to their final law and what problems the law was meant to overcome. It’s possible the problems are quite different in Armenia and that maybe even an earlier draft of some law would be a better fit for Armenia. Instead, they just apply the whole law and see how it works.

Unsurprisingly, issues often arise. The government will watch for issues and whatever issues arise within the first month, it’ll tweak the law to resolve them.

The problems with this approach are obvious. First, what about issues that creep up six months later? How much review is there of previous laws? Second, who defines what are “issues?” If a law unfairly affects some class of people but not enough to be unconstitutional, will the law be rebalanced? Third, Armenia is constantly playing catch-up since they aren’t ever creating new ideas. Fourth—and clearly the worst problem—lawyers have to be constantly up to speed on the fast changing regulations. Wont people think of the poor lawyers?

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