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Subject: Findings from Hong Kong

Hi All,

Recently I spent two weeks in Hong Kong doing a document analysis of the 
"Laws of Hong Kong" as a subcontractor to a firm in Hong Kong building a
system for the Hong Kong DoJ.

Some finding are listed below. Some of these concepts might be old news to you,
but for me they were new. Some might already be supported by Akoma Ntoso, but
I would like to get better clarification of how best to model them.

General Comments

1) The data is to be stored in Oracle XDB. This is replacing an existing system called BLIS (Bilingual Laws Information System) which is based on Lotus Domino and was 
implemented around 1997. Domino uses a proprietory DXL XML format - which is
heavy on presentation with very little structure or semantics. The current electronic
records are a copy and are not authentic. Current system entails double entry and double processing - so there are differences.

2) Chinese (traditional Chinese/Cantonese) is printed side-by-side alongside
English text. Both equally valid.

3) Basic legislative traditions come from the United Kingdom. Much of the legislation is directly copied from the U.K. To date, there has been little influence on Hong Kong Law from the PRC.

4) 6 year project to build the system, 8-10 year project to authenticate the electronic

Overview of the Findings:

1) Modifications - are amendments only for the purposes of the document in which they
appear. Generally they are used when the delegated authority creating the legislation lacks
the authority to amend the principal legislation. Usually clarification language.

2) Modifications contain redlining - the only use of redlining.

3) Sandwiches - Complex sentences broken into paragraphs and subparagraphs.
Introductory text is the "top bread" and continuation text is the "middle bread" or
"bottom bread" We see the same structure in US Federal legislation but the 
practice is no longer permitted. When multiple "sandwiches" occur in the same section, the naming conventions are modified to prevent numbering ambiguity.

4) Provisos - are a formal structure that is only identified by a standalone paragraph starting as "provided that..." or "但". References to text in proviso will identify the proviso (i.e. in the second proviso of section 1). Paragraph/subparagraphs in proviso may used the same numbering as in the section itself as the identification of the proviso in the reference removes ambiguity.

5) Amending Formula - the text of an amendment is called an amending formula. This 
the actions being taken and any quoted text or quoted structure.

6) Older legislation included the enacting formula within the preamble. New legislation omits the preamble and the enacting formula is standalone. 

5) Adoption of model laws - Separate section is created for each section in the model law. The text reads "Section ## of the ABC Model Law takes effect as follows: " {Quoted Structure} "

6) Consequential amendment tables in schedule appendices.

7) Sections are omitted once "spent" or they have taken effect. Section range survives containing a number and an editorial note.

8) Omitted sections may group into section ranges. (i.e. Sec. 6-9. (Omitted as spent))

9) Repealed sections sometimes retained for clarity - marked as repealed and printed in italics.

10) Sections/Subsections go by many different names - Clauses/Subclauses in bills, Sections/Subsections in Ordinances, but Rules/Subrules, Regulations/Subregulations, Orders, and Directions may be used in subsidiary legislation.

11) General hierarchy is Part > Division > Subdivision > Section > Subsection > Paragraph > Subparagraph > Subsubparagraph > ...

12) Schedules often contain treaties or agreements with other countries are are not written in accordance with any drafting rules.

13) Schedules can contain complex graphical structures or formulas. For example, instructions for how to form the five petals of the flower shown on the flag of Hong Kong.

14) Bill amendments called "Committee Stage Amendments" or CSAs.

15) Dates are often specified in terms of a time - especially when they're related to treaties with other countries where time zones must be factored in.

16) Retroactive effective dates are only used when removing privileges assigned to the U.K.

17) The date a law takes effect is called the "commencement date"

18) Bills do not have authors and do not have sponsors. Bills are submitted to the Legislative Council by the government. Legislators debate and vote only.  The counsels (attorneys) in the Legislative Drafting Division (LDD) within the DoJ draft all legislation on behalf of the government.

-- Grant
Grant Vergottini
Xcential Group, LLC.
email: grant.vergottini@xcential.com
phone: 858.361.6738

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