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Uniform Resource Name (URN) Namespace for Sources of Law

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Uniform Resource Name (URN) Namespace for Sources of Law (LEX)

Intended Status: Informational E. Francesconi (ITTIG/CNR)
Expires: March 8, 2012 C. Lupo (CNIPA)
September 5 2011

Version 04.

1 Introduction

1.1 The Purpose of Namespace “lex”

The purpose of the “lex” namespace is to assign an unequivocal
identifier, in standard format, to documents that are sources of law.
To the extent of this namespace, “sources of law” include any legal
document within the domain of legislation, case law and
administrative acts or regulations; moreover potential “sources of
law” (acts under the process of law formation, as bills) are included
as well. Therefore “legal doctrine” is explicitly not covered.

The identifier is conceived so that its construction depends only on
the characteristics of the document itself and is, therefore,
independent from the document’s on-line availability, its physical
location, and access mode.

This identifier will be used as a way to represent the references
(and more generally, any type of relation) among the various sources
of law. In an on-line environment with resources distributed among
different Web publishers, uniform resource names allow simplified
global interconnection of legal documents by means of automated
hypertext linking.

1.2 Entities Supporting this Standard

The following entities support this proposal:

– ITTIG/CNR (Institute of Legal Information Theory and Techniques of
the Italian National Research Council) – Italy;
– CNIPA (National Centre for ICT in Public Administration) – Italy;
– PRODASEN – IT Department of the Federal Senate – Brazil;
– LII (Legal Information Institute), Cornell Law School – USA

1.3 The Context

In the last few years a number of initiatives have arisen in the
field of legal document management.

Since 2001 the Italian Government, through the CNIPA (National
Authority for Information Technology in the Public Administration),
the Ministry of Justice and ITTIG-CNR (the Institute of Legal
Information Theory and Techniques of the Italian National Research
Council) promoted the NormeInRete project. It was aimed at
introducing standards for sources of law description and
identification using XML and URN techniques.

Other national initiatives in Europe introduced standards for the

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description of legal sources [FRAN]: for example the Metalex project,
promoted by the University of Amsterdam and adopted by the Dutch Tax
and Customs Administration, the Belgian Public Centers for Welfare
and others; LexDania project in Denmark supported by the Danish
Ministry of Justice; CHLexML in Switzerland developed by COPIUR, the
Coordination Office for the Electronic Publication of Legal Data
Federal Office of Justice; eLaw in Austria mainly coordinated by the
Austrian Parliament.

Such initiatives, based in synergies between government, national
research institutes, and universities, have defined national XML
standards for legal document management, as well as schemes for legal
document identification.

Outside Europe, similar initiatives have faced similar problems. For
example, the Brazilian Senate carried out a feasibility study to
provide unique and transparent identifiers to sources of law on the
basis of the IFLA-FRBR model.
Similarly, the Akoma Ntoso (Architecture for Knowledge-Oriented
Management of African Normative Texts using Open Standards and
Ontologies) project provides a set of guidelines for e-Parliament
services in a Pan-African context by proposing an XML document schema
providing sophisticated description possibilities for several
Parliamentary document types (including bills, acts and parliamentary
records, etc.).
Finally, the Tasmanian Government provided advanced legislative
information services through the EnAct project. It gave searchable
consolidated Tasmanian legislation by automating much of the
legislative drafting and consolidation process, as well as using SGML
document representation. Numerous less-visible efforts in the United
States and elsewhere have struggled with similar issues.

Several of these identifiers are based on a URN schema. The first
national standard was defined in Italy within the NormeInRete
project; to this the Danish LexDania and the Brazilian Lexml standard
followed. Hungary, Slovenia and Switzerland expressed their interest
in URN identifier for legislation as well. All these standards have a
common internal structure, regarding both the hierarchy and the
elements content.

In today’s information society the processes of political, social and
economic integration of European Union member states as well as the
increasing integration of the world-wide legal and economic processes
are causing a growing interest in exchanging legal information
knowledge at national and trans-national levels.
The growing desire for improved quality and accessibility of legal
information amplifies the need for interoperability among legal
information systems across national boundaries. A common open

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standard used to identify sources of law at international level is an
essential prerequisite for interoperability.

Interest groups within several countries have already expressed their
intention to adopt a shared solution based on a URN technique.
The need for a unequivocal identifier of sources of law in different
EU Member States, based on open standards and able to provide
advanced modalities of document hyper-linking, has been expressed in
several conferences by representatives of the Office for Official
Publications of the European Communities (OPOCE), with the aim of
promoting interoperability among national and European institution
information systems. Similar concerns have been raised by
international groups concerned with free access to legal information,
and the Permanent Bureau of the Hague Conference on Private
International Law is considering a resolution that would encourage
member states to “adopt neutral methods of citation of their legal
materials, including methods that are medium-neutral, provider-
neutral and internationally consistent”. In a similar direction the
CEN Metalex initiative is moving, at European level, towards the
definition of a standard interchange format for sources of law,
including recommendations for defining naming conventions to them.

The “urn:lex” naming convention has interpreted all these
recommendations, proposing an original solution for sources of law

1.4 General Characteristics of the System

Registrants wish now to promote interoperability among legal
information systems by the definition of a namespace convention and
structure that will create and manage identifiers for legal
documents. The identifiers will be:
– globally unique
– transparent
– persistent
– location-independent, and
– language-neutral.
These qualities will facilitate legal document management as well as
provide a mechanism of stable cross-collections and cross-country
Language-neutrality is an especially important feature that will
promote adoption of the standard by organizations that must adhere to
official-language requirements. The proposed standard will provide
useful guidance to both public and private groups that create,
promulgate, and publish legal documents. Registrants wish to minimize
the potential for creating conflicting proprietary schemes, while
preserving sufficient flexibility to allow for diverse document types
and to respect the need for local control of collections by an

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equally diverse assortment of administrative entities.

As usual, the problem is to provide the right amount guidance at the
core of the standard while providing sufficient flexibility to cover
a wide variety of needs. The proposed “lex” standard does this by
splitting the identifier into parts. The first part uses a
predetermined standard (“country/jurisdiction name standard”) to
specify the country (or more generally the jurisdiction) of origin
for the legal document being identified; the remainder (“local name”)
is intended for local use in identifying documents issued in that
country or jurisdiction. This second part depends only on sources of
law identification system operating in that nation and it is mainly
composed by a formalized information related to the enacting
authority, the type of measure, the details and possibly the annex.

The identification system based on uniform names MUST include:
– a schema for assigning names capable of representing unambiguously
any addressed source of law, namely legislation, case law and
administrative acts, issued by any authority (intergovernmental,
supranational, national, regional and local) at any time (past,
present and future);
– a resolution mechanism – in a distributed environment – that ties a
uniform name to the on-line location of the corresponding
This document only considers the first of these requirements. It also
contains a few references to the architecture of the resolution
service and to the corresponding software.

1.5 Linking a “lex” Name to a Document

The “lex” name is linked to the document through meta-information
which may be specified:
– internally to the document itself through a specific element within
an XML schema or by an HTML META tag;
– externally by means of an RDF triple, a specific attribute in a
database, etc.
One of these modalities is necessary for enabling automated
construction and updating of catalogues (distributed and centralized)
and the implementation of resolvers that associate the uniform name
of a document with its physical location(s). The standard assumes no
particular relationship between the originator of the document, its
publisher, and the implementer of catalogues or resolution services.
They may be the same entity, or not.

1.6 Use of “lex” Names in References

“lex” names will be used on a large scale in references as a HREF
attribute value of the hypertext link to the referred document.

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This link can be created in two ways:
– by manually inserting, in the referring document, the link with the
uniform name: this is a burdensome procedure especially for
documents that are already on-line;
– by automatically constructing (either permanently or temporarily)
the link with the uniform name, through reference parsers of a
text: this is a more time-saving procedure even if subject to a
certain percentage of errors, since references are not always
accurate or complete. This solution could nevertheless be
acceptable for already published documents.
In any case, whatever the method adopted is, new documents produced
in XML format compliant with the relative DTD/XMLSchema, SHOULD
express references through the uniform name of the document referred

1.7 Definitions

According to this document, the following terms are used in the
following meaning:
– Source of Law:
is a general concept, and is used to refer to legislation, case
law, regulations and administrative acts. In its broadest sense,
the source of law is anything that can be conceived of as the
originator of ‘erga omnes’ legal rules. In this document “source of
law” refers also to acts during their formation cycle as bills that
might or might not become sources of law;
– Registrar:
is an organization which shares and defines in any country or
jurisdiction the assignment of the main components of the resource
identifier through which its uniqueness is guaranteed. This task
includes the definition of possible jurisdiction unit and the
primary elements (issuing authority and type of legal measure) of
uniform name, according to the characteristics of its own state or
institution organization.

1.8 Terminology

The key words “MUST”, “MUST NOT”, “REQUIRED”, “SHALL”, “SHALL NOT”,
document are to be interpreted as described in [RFC2119].

2 Specification Template

2.1 Namespace ID

“lex” requested according to [RFC3406].

2.2 Registration Information

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Version Number: 1.0
Date: 2011-04-01

Declared registrant of the namespace:

Institute of Legal Information Theory and Techniques (ITTIG)
Italian National Research Council (CNR)
Via de’ Barucci, 20
50127 Florence


2.3 Syntax Used in this Document

This document uses the syntax common to many Internet RFCs, which is
based on the BNF (Backus-Naur Form) meta-language. In particular:
– elements are included between angle brackets (“<" and ">“);
– an element is separated from its specification by the string “::=”;
– alternative elements are separated from each other by a vertical
slash (“|”);
– character strings are enclosed in quotes (” and “);
– optional parts are enclosed by square brackets (“[” and “]”);
– a group of elements is enclosed by round brackets (“(” and “)”);
– a symbol or an expression following an element or a group of
elements indicates a factor of repetition, and, as in the regular
expressions, takes the following formats:
– ? : 0 or 1 time;
– + : 1 or more times;
– * : 0 or more times;
– {n} : times;
– {n,m}: from to times.

2.4 Identifier structure

The identifier has a hierarchical structure as follows:


where NSS is the Namespace Specific String composed as follows:



is the part providing the identification of the
jurisdiction, generally corresponding to the country, where the
source of law is issued. It is also possible to represent

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international organizations (either states or public administrations
or private entities);

is the uniform name of the source of law in the country
or jurisdiction where it is issued; its internal structure is common
to the already adopted schemas. It is able to represent all the
aspects of an intellectual production, as it is a legal document,
from its initial idea, through its evolution during the time, to its
realisation by different means (paper, digital, etc.).

The element is composed of two specific fields:



is usually the identification code of the country
where the source of law is issued; this code follows the standard
[ISO3166] Alpha-2 (it=Italy, fr=France, dk=Denmark, etc.). In case of
multi-national (e.g., European Union) or international (e.g., United
Nations, Free Software Foundation) organizations the Top Level Domain
Name (e.g., “eu”) or the Domain Name (e.g., “”, “”) is
used instead of ISO 3166 code. In case such multi-national or
international organization does not have a registered domain, in
order to avoid ambiguities or collisions with actual domains, a
domain name (according to the english acronym of the organization
name) under the virtual domain “lex” is used. For example, the
jurisdiction code of the European Economic Community is “eec.lex”;

are the possible administrative hierarchical sub-
structures defined by each country or organisation according to its
own legal system. This additional information can be used where two
or more levels of legislative or judicial production exist (e.g.,
federal, state and municipality level) and the same bodies may be
present in each jurisdiction. Then acts of the same type issued by
similar authorities in different areas differ for the jurisdiction-
unit specification. An example can be the following:
“br:governo:decreto” (decree of federal government),
“br;sao.paulo:governo:decreto” (decree of SU+00E3o Paulo state) and
“br;sao.paulo;campinas:governo: decreto” (decree of Campinas

Examples of law sources identifiers are:

urn:lex:it:stato:legge:2003-09-21;456 (Italian act)
urn:lex:fr:etat:loi:2004-12-06;321 (French act)
urn:lex:es:estado:ley:2002-07-12;123 (Spanish act)
urn:lex:ch;glarus:regiere:erlass:2007-10-15;963 (Glarus Swiss Canton

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urn:lex:eu:commission:directive:2010-03-09;2010-19-EU (EU Commission
urn:lex:us:federal.supreme.court:decision:1963-03-18; (US
FSC decision)
urn:lex:be:conseil.etat:decision:2008-07-09;185.273 (Decision of the
Belgian Council of State)

3 General Syntax of the “lex” Identifier

3.1 Allowed and Not Allowed Characters

These characters are defined in accordance with the [RFC2141] “URN
Syntax”. For various reasons, later explained, in the “lex”
only a sub-set of characters is allowed. All other characters are
either eliminated or converted.

For the full syntax of the uniform names in the “lex” space, please
see Attachment A.

3.2 Reserved Characters

These characters MUST always and uniquely be used for the assigned
The first category includes those characters bearing a specific
meaning in the general creation of the URI (Uniform Resource

“%” “/” “?” “#”

The following characters instead are reserved in the specific “lex”

– “@” separator of the expression, that contains information on
version and language;
– “$” separator of the manifestation, that contains information on
format, editor, etc.;
– “:” separator of the main elements of the name at any entity;
– “;” separator of level. It identifies the introduction of an
element at a hierarchically lower level, or the introduction of a
– “+” separator of the repetitions of an entire main element (e.g.,
multiple authorities);
– “,” separator of the repetitions of individual components in the
main elements, each bearing the same level of specificity (e.g.,
multiple numbers);
– “~” separator of the partition identifier in references (e.g.,
paragraph of an article);

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– “*” and “!” are reserved for future expansions.

3.3 Case sensitivity

The specific name of the URN, as with URLs, is case-sensitive.
Since the case does not change the logical identification of the
source of law, the names belonging to the “lex” namespace are
considered functionally equivalent independently from the case. To
take advantage of memory caching, the specific name is always created
in lower case.
(e.g., “Ministry” will be recorded as “ministry”)

3.4 National Characters and Diacritic Signs

In order to keep editing and communication more simple and to avoid
character percent-encoding, it is strongly recommended that national
characters and diacritic signs are turned into base characters (e.g.,
the Italian term “sanitU+00E0” converted into “sanita”, the French
term “ministU+00E8re” converted into “ministere”). Otherwise, the
characters have to be percent-encoded according to the UTF-8
character encoding [STD63] (e.g., “sanitU+00E0” encoded into
Anyway each country or jurisdiction decides the uniform names
encoding modality of all the sources of law issued within its

3.5 Replacement of Spaces, Connectives and Punctuation Marks

All the language connectives (e.g., articles, prepositions, etc.),
the punctuation marks and all the special characters (as apostrophes,
dashes, etc.) are eliminated. The words left are connected each other
by a dot (“.”) which substitutes the “space”.
(e.g., “Ministry of Finances, Budget and of Economic Planning”
becomes “ministry.finances.budget.economic.planning”)

3.6 Abbreviation Expansion

All abbreviations indicating institutions (e.g., Min.), structures
(e.g., Dept.), or legal measures (e.g., reg.), MUST be expanded.
(e.g., “Min.” must be reported as “ministry”)

3.7 Acronyms

The use of acronyms might be confusing and encourage ambiguity in
uniform names (the same acronym may indicate two different
institutions or structures), therefore their expansion is strongly
(e.g., “FAO” is to be expanded as “food.agriculture.organization”)

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3.8 Date Format

Dates are expressed by numbers in the ISO-8601 format:


(e.g., “September 2, 99” will be written as “1999-09-02”)

3.9 Ordinal Numbers

Any ordinal number included in a component of a document name (e.g.,
in the description of an institution body) MUST be indicated in
Arabic numerals, regardless to the original expression: whether in
Roman numerals, or with an adjective, or in Arabic numeral with apex,
etc. (IV, third, 1U+00B0, 2^, etc.).
(e.g., “Department IV” becomes “department.4”)

4 Creation of the Source of Law “lex” Identifier

4.1 Basic Principles

The uniform name must identify one and only one document (more
precisely a “bibliographic entity”) and is created in such a way that
it is:
– self-explanatory ;
– identifiable through simple and clear rules;
– compatible with the practice commonly used for references;
– able to be created by references in the text, automatically (by
parser) or manually;
– representative of both the formal and the substantive aspects of
the document.

4.2 Model of Sources of Law Representation

According to FRBR (Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records)
model developed by IFLA (International Federation of Library
Associations and Institutions), in a source of law, as in any
intellectual production, 4 fundamental entities (or aspects) can be

The first 2 entities reflect its contents:
– work: identifies a distinct intellectual creation; in our case, it
identifies a source of law both in its being (as it has been issued
or proposed) and in its becoming (as it is modified over time);
– expression: identifies a specific intellectual realisation of a
work; in our case it identifies every different (original or up-to-
date) version of the source of law over time and/or language in
which the text is expressed;

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while the other 2 entities relate to its form:
– manifestation: identifies a concrete realisation of an expression;
in our case it identifies realizations in different media
(printing, digital, etc.), encoding formats (XML, PDF, etc.), or
other publishing characteristics;
– item: identifies a specific copy of a manifestation; in our case it
identifies individual physical copies as they are found in
particular physical locations.

In this document the FRBR model has been interpreted for the specific
characteristics of the legal domain. In particular, a part from the
language which does produce a specific expression, the discriminative
criterion between expression and manifestation is based on the
difference of the juridical effects that a variation can provide with
respect to the involved actors (citizens, parties, institutions). In
this scenario the main characteristic of the expression of an act is
represented by its validity over the time, during which it provides
the same juridical effects. These effects change for amendments or
annulments of other legislative or jurisprudential acts. Therefore
notes, summarizations, comments, anonymizations and other editorial
activities over the same text do not produce different expressions,
but different manifestations.

4.3 The Structure of the Local Name

The of “lex” namespace MUST contain all the necessary
pieces of information enabling the unequivocal identification of a
legal document.
In the legal domain, at the “work” level, they are essentially four:
the enacting authority, the type of measure, the details and the
annex, if any.
It is often necessary to differentiate various expressions, that is:
– the original version and all the amended versions of the same
– the versions of the text expressed in the different official
languages of the state or organization.
Finally the uniform name allows a distinction among diverse
manifestations, which may be produced in multiple locations using
different means and formats.
In every case, the basic identifier of the source of law (work)
remains the same, but information is added regarding the specific
version under consideration (expression); similarly a suffix is added
to the expression for representing the characteristics of the
publication (manifestation).
The information which forms a source of law uniform name at each
level (work, expression, manifestation) is expressed in the official
language of the related jurisdiction; in case of more official
languages (as in Switzerland) or more involved jurisdictions (as in

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international treaties), more language-dependent names (aliases) are

Therefore, the more general structure of the national name appears as


However, consistent with legislative practice, the uniform name of
the main original provision (work) becomes the identifier of an
entire class of documents which includes: the original main document,
the annexes, and all their versions, languages and formats
subsequently generated.

4.4 Structure of the Document Identifier at Work Level

The structure of the document identifier is made of the four
fundamental elements mentioned above, clearly distinguished one from
the other in accordance with an order identifying increasingly narrow
domains and competences:




is the issuing or proposing authority of the measure
(e.g., State, Ministry, Municipality, Court, etc.);

is the type of the measure, both public nature (e.g.,
constitution, act, treaty, regulation, decree, decision, etc.) as
well as private one (e.g., license, agreement, etc);

are the terms associated to the measure, typically the date
(usually the signature date) and the number included in the heading
of the act;

is the identifier of the annex, if any (e.g., Annex 1).

In case of annexes, both the main document and its annexes have their
own uniform name so that they can individually be referenced; the
identifier of the annex adds a suffix to that of the main document.
In similar way the identifier of an annex of an annex adds an ending
to that of the annex which it is attached to.

The main elements of the national name are generally divided into
several elementary components, and, for each, specific rules of
representation are established (criteria, modalities, syntax and

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For the details regarding each element, please see the Attachment B.

Examples of identifiers are:


It is worth to note that the type of measure is important to identify
case law, as well as legislation, especially within the legal systems
where cases, by tradition, are identified only through the year of
release and a number. Since the aim of the “urn:lex” schema is to
identify specific materials, the type of measure or the full date are
able to provide discrimination between materials belonging to a
specific case.

Here below is an example where the type of measure or the full date
are essential for identify specific materials of a case:
– 4/59 Judgment of the EEC Court of Justice 04/04/1960, Mannesmann AG
and others / ECSC High Authority
– 4/59 Order of the EEC Court of Justice 18/05/1960, Mannesmann AG
and others / ECSC High Authority

4.5 Aliases

International treaties involve more jurisdictions (the signing ones)
so they are represented through more identifiers, each of them
related to an involved jurisdiction. For example, a bilateral France
and Germany treaty is identified through two URNs (aliases) belonging
to either “fr” or “de” jurisdiction
(e.g., “urn:lex:fr:etat:traite:…” and
since it pertains to both the French and the German jurisdiction.

In the states or organisations that have more than one official
language, a document has more identifiers, each of them expressed in
a different official language, basically a set of equivalent aliases.
This system permits manual or automated construction of the uniform
name of the referred source of law in the same language used in the
document itself.

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(e.g., “urn:lex:eu:council:directive:2004-12-07;31”,
“urn:lex:eu:consiglio:direttiva:2004-12-07;31”, etc.)

Moreover, a document can be assigned more than one uniform name in
order to facilitate its linking to other documents. This option can
be used for documents that, although unique, are commonly referenced
from different perspectives. For example, the form of a document’s
promulgation and its specific content (e.g., a Regulation promulgated
through a Decree of the President of the Republic).

4.6 Structure of the Document Identifier at Expression Level

There may be several expressions of a legal text, connected to
specific versions or languages.
Each version is characterized by the period of time during which that
text is to be considered as the valid text (in force or effective).
The lifetime of a version ends with the issuing of the subsequent
New versions of a text may be brought into existence by:
– changes in the text (amendments) due to the issuing of other legal
acts and to the subsequent production of updated or consolidated
– correction of publication errors (rectification or errata corrige);
– entry into or departure from a particular time span, depending on
the specific date in which different partitions of a text come into
Each of such versions may be expressed in more than one language,
with each language-version having its own specific identifier.
The identifier of a source of law expression adds such information to
the work identifier, using the following main structure:



is the identifier of the version of the (original or
amended) source of law. In general it is expressed by the
promulgation date of the amending act; anyway other specific
information can be used for particular documents. If necessary, the
original version is specified by the string “original” (for the
details regarding this element, please see the Attachment C);

is the identification code of the language in which the
document is expressed, according to [ISO639-1] (it=Italian,
fr=French, de=German, etc.); in case the code of a language is not
included in this standard, the [ISO639-2] (3 letters) is used. This
information is not necessary when the text is expressed in the unique
official language of the country or jurisdiction.

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Examples of document identifiers for expressions are:

urn:lex:ch:etat:loi:2006-05-14;22@originel:fr (original version in
urn:lex:ch:staat:gesetz:2006-05-14;22@original:de (original version
in German)
urn:lex:ch:etat:loi:2006-05-14;22@2008-03-12:fr (amended version in
urn:lex:ch:staat:gesetz:2006-05-14;22@2008-03-12:de (amended version
in German)
(original version in French of a Belgian decision)

4.7 Structure of the Document Identifier at Manifestation Level

To identify a specific manifestation, the uniform name of the
expression is followed by a suitable suffix describing the:
– digital format (e.g., XML, HTML, PDF, etc.) expressed according to
the MIME Content-Type standard [RFC2045], where the “/” character
is to be substituted by the “-” sign;
– editorial staff who produced it, expressed according to its
Internet domain name;
– possible components of the expressions contained in the
manifestation. Such components are expressed by language-dependent
labels representing the whole document (in English “all”) or the
main part of the document (in English “body”) or the caption label
of the component itself (e.g. Table 1, Figure 2, etc.);
– other features of the document (e.g., anonymized decision text).

The suffix will thus read:


To indicate possible features or peculiarities, each main element of
the manifestation MAY be followed by further specifications, for
example as regards the version, for the archive
name and the electronic publisher, etc.

the original version the Italian act 3 April 2000, n. 56 might have
the following manifestations with their relative uniform names:
– PDF format (vers. 1.7) of the whole act edited by the Italian

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– XML format (version 2.2 DTD NIR) of the text of the act and PDF
format (version 1.7) of the “Figura 1” (figure 1) contained in the
body, edited by the Italian Senate:

the Spanish URN of the html format of the whole Judgement of the
European Court of Justice n. 33/08 of 11/06/2009, in Spanish version,
published in the Jurifast data base in anonymized form:

Furthermore, it is useful to be able to assign a uniform name to a
manifestation (or to a part of it) in case non-textual objects are
involved. These may be multimedia objects that are non-textual in
their own right (e.g. geographic maps, photographs, etc.), or texts
recorded in non-textual formats, such as image scans of documents.

In these ways, a “lex” name permits:
– exploitation of all the advantages of an unequivocal identifier
that is independent of physical location;
– a means to provide choice among different existing manifestations
(e.g. XML or PDF formats, resolution degree of an image etc.) of
the same expression.

4.8 Sources of Law References

References to sources of law often refer to specific partitions of
the act (article, paragraph, etc.) and not to the entire document.
An act partition is a logical subdivision of the text, that, in a
structured format (as XML) fitting the document logical structure, is
represented by an element with its own ID; this ID aims to identify
the element and to locate it. In a mark-up that does not fit the
logical structure of the text (as HTML), generally only the starting
point of the partition, and not the element, is identified through a
label (a tag).
Therefore, for allowing browsers to point to a specific partition, it
is necessary that such partition is endowed with an unequivocal label
or ID within the including document and its value is the same
independently from the document format.

For enabling the construction of the partition identifier between
different collections of documents, specific construction rules for
IDs or labels SHOULD be defined and shared, within each country or
jurisdiction, for any document type (e.g., for legislation, the
paragraph 2 of the article 3 might have as label or ID the value

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“art3;par2”, similarly for case-law, paragraph 22 of the judgment in
Case 46/76 Bauhuis v Netherlands, might have as label or ID the value
Furthermore, it is useful to foresee the compatibility with
applications able to manage this information (e.g., returning the
proper element); these procedures are particularly useful in the case
of rather long acts, such as codes, constitutions, regulations, etc.
For this purpose it is necessary that the partition identifier is
transmitted to the servers (resolution and application) and therefore
it cannot be separated by the typical “#” character of URI fragment,
which is not transmitted to the server.

According to these requirements, the syntax of a reference is:

::= [“~” ]?

(e.g., to refer to the paragraph 3 of the article 15 of the French
Act of 15 may 2004, n. 106, the reference is written

Using a different separator (“~”) from the document name, the
partition ID is not withheld by the browser but it is transmitted to
the resolution process. This enables the resolver to retrieve (for
example, out of a database), if it is possible, only the referred
partition, otherwise to return the whole act.
Anyway, to make it effective pointing to the indicated partition
through a browser, the resolver SHOULD transform the partition ID of
each returned URL in a URI fragment; this is obtained appending to
URL the “#” character followed by the partition ID (in the example
above, the returned URL will be #art15;par3).

Anyway it is possible to use the general syntax (with “#”); in this
case only the URN document component of the reference is transmitted
to the resolver, therefore the whole document will be always

5 The Procedure of Uniform Names Assignment

5.1 Specifying the element of the URN “lex”

Under the “lex” namespace, each country or international organization
is assigned with a jurisdiction code, which characterizes the URNs of
the source of law of that country or jurisdiction. This code is
assigned according to the ISO 3166 Alpha-2 (as well as TLDN or DN for
the organizations) representation and it is the value of the
element, which preserves cross-country uniqueness
of the identifiers.

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5.2 Jurisdictional Registrar for Names Assignment

Any country or jurisdiction, who intends to adopt this schema,
identifies a Jurisdictional Registrar, an organization which shares
and defines the structure of the optional part ()
of the name, according to the organization of the state or
institution. For example, in a federal state a
corresponding to the name of each member state (e.g. “br;sao.paolo”,
“br;minas.gerais”, etc.) may be defined.

The process of assigning the will be managed by each
specific country or jurisdiction under the related
In any country the Jurisdictional Registrar shares and defines the
assignment of the primary elements (issuing authority and type of
legal measure) of the local names considering the characteristics of
its own state or institution organization.
Such a Registrar SHOULD establish, according to the guidelines
indicated in the current document, a uniform procedure within the
country or organization to define elements, to take
decisions upon normalizations and finally to solve and avoid possible
name collisions as well as to maintain authoritative registries of
various kinds (e.g., for authorities, types of measures, etc.). In
particular, accurate point-in-time representations of the structure
and naming of government entities are important to semantically-aware
applications in this domain.
Moreover, the Registrar shares and defines the rules to construct
partition IDs for each document type.
Finally, the Registrar will develop and publish the rules and the
guidelines for the construction as well as the
predefined values and codes.

5.3 Identifier Uniqueness

Identifiers in the “lex” namespace are defined through a
element assigned to the sources of law of a specific
country or organization, and a assigned by the issuing
authority. The main elements (authority and type of measure) of the
are defined by the Jurisdictional Registrar, so that it
is ensured that the constructed URNs are unique. The Jurisdictional
Registrar SHOULD provide clear documentation of rules by which names
are to be constructed, and SHOULD update and make accessible its

Any issuing authority is responsible to define formal parameters to
guarantee local name uniqueness by attributing, if necessary, a
conventional internal number, which, combined with the other components (authority, measure and date), builds an unequivocal

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identifier. Uniqueness is achieved by checking against the catalogue
of previously assigned names.

5.4 Identifier persistence considerations

The persistence of identifiers depends on the durability of the
institutions that assign and administer them. The goal of the “lex”
namespace schema is to maintain uniqueness and persistence of all
resources identified by the assigned URNs.

In particular, CNIPA and ITTIG-CNR, as proposers, are responsible of
maintaining the uniqueness of the element; given that
the is assigned on the basis of the long-held ISO 3166
Alpha-2 representation of the country (or the TLD name of the
organization) and that the country or organization associated code is
expected to continue indefinitely, the URN also persists

The rules for the construction of the name are conceived to delegate
the responsibility of their uniqueness to a set of authorities which
is identified within each country or organization.

Therefore, each authority is responsible for assigning URNs which
have a very long life expectancy and can be expected to remain unique
for the foreseeable future. Practical and political considerations,
as well as diverse local forms of government organization, will
result in different methods of assigning responsibility for different
levels of the name.
Where this cannot be accomplished by the implementation of an
authoritative hierarchy, it can and SHOULD be done by creating
consensus around a
series of published rules for the creation and
administration of names by institutions and bodies that operate by
means of collaboration rather than compulsion.

Issuing authorities that operate in more localized scopes, ranging
from the national down to the very local, MUST equally take
responsibility for the persistence of identifiers within their

6 Principles of the Resolution Service

6.1 The General Architecture of the System

The task of the resolution service is that of associating a “lex”
identifier with a specific document address on the network. By
contrast with systems that can be constructed around rigorous and
enforceable engineering premises, such as DNS, the “lex” resolver
will be expected to cope with a wide variety of “dirty” inputs,

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particularly those created by the automated extraction of references
from incomplete or inaccurate texts. In this document, the result is
a particular emphasis on a flexible and robust resolver design.

The system has a distributed architecture based on two fundamental
components: a chain of information in DNS (Domain Name System) and a
series of resolution services from URNs to URLs, each competent
within a specific domain of the namespace.
Through the NAPTR records of the DNS (described in [RFC3403]), the
client identifies the characteristics (protocol, port, site) of the
service (e.g. according to [RFC2169]) capable of associating the
relative URLs with the URN in question, thereby allowing access to
the document.

A resolution service can delegate the resolution and management of
hierarchically-dependent portions of the name.
Delegation of this responsibility will not be unreasonably withheld
provided that the processes for their resolution and management are
robust and are followed.

For the “lex” namespace, CNIPA and ITTIG-CNR will maintain the root
zone “” and, in correspondence with the adhesion of a new
country (e.g., “br”) or organization, will update the DNS information
with a new record to delegate the relative resolution. This may be
obtained by a regular expression that matches the initial part of the
URN (e.g., “urn:lex:br”) and redirects towards the proper zone (e.g.,

Likewise the institution responsible for the jurisdiction uniform
names (e.g., “urn:lex:br”) has the task of managing the relative root
in the DNS system (e.g., “” zone) and routing the
resolution towards its resolvers on the basis of parts of the uniform
names. In similar way it can delegate the resolution of
country/organization sub-levels (e.g., “urn:lex:br;sao.paolo”)
towards the relative zone (e.g., “”).

The resolution service is made up of two elements: a knowledge base
(consisting in a catalogue or a set of transformation rules) and a
software to query the knowledge base itself.

6.2 Catalogues for Resolution

Incompleteness and inaccuracy are rather frequent in legal citations,
and incomplete or inaccurate uniform names of the referred document
are thus likely to be built from textual references (this is even
more frequent if they are created automatically through a specific
parser). For this reason, the implementation of a catalogue, based on
a relational-database, is suggested, as it will lead to a more higher

P. Spinosa Expires March 8 2012 [Page 24]


flexibility in the resolution process.
In addition the catalogue must manage the aliases, the various
versions and languages of the same source of law as well as the
related manifestations.

It is suggested that each enacting authority implements its own
catalogue, assigning a corresponding unambiguous uniform name to each

6.3 Suggested resolver behaviour

First of all the resolver should separate the part corresponding to
the partition ID, through the “~” separator, from the document name.

So, the resolution process SHOULD implement a normalization of the
uniform name to be resolved. This may involve transforming some
components to the canonical form (e.g., filling out the acronyms,
expanding the abbreviations, unifying the institution names,
standardizing the type of measures, etc.). For this function
authorities and types of measure registers are useful.

The resolver SHOULD then query the catalogue searching for the URN
which corresponds exactly to the given one (normalized if necessary).
Since the names coming from the references may be inaccurate or
incomplete, an iterative, heuristic approach (based on partial
matches) is indicated. It is worth remarking that incomplete
references (not including all the elements to create the canonical
uniform name) are normal and natural; for a human reader, the
reference would be “completed” by contextual understanding of the
reference in the document in which it occurs.

In this phase, the resolver should use the partition ID information
to retrieve, if it is possible, only the referred partition,
otherwise to return of the entire document.

Lacking more specific indications, the resolver SHOULD select the
best (most recent) version of the requested source of law, and
provide all the manifestations with their related items.
A more specific indication in the uniform name to be resolved will,
of course, result in a more selective retrieval, based on any
suggested expression and/or manifestations components (e.g. date,
language, format, etc.).

Finally, the resolver SHOULD append to URLs the “#” character
followed by partition ID, transforming it in a URI fragment for
browser pointing.

7 Considerations

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7.1 Conformance with URN Syntax

No special considerations.

7.2 Validation mechanism

The national Authority (or those it delegates) of each adhering
country or organization is responsible of the definition or
acceptance of the uniform name’s primary elements (issuing authority
and type of legal measure).

7.3 Scope

Global interest.

7.4 Namespace Considerations

In collaboration with the legislative XML community, registrants
carried out a preliminary study of the URI alternatives to satisfy
the key requirements.
The options analysed were: a private URI scheme, URL, PURL and URN.
URN was considered the most appropriate URI given the requirements
Advantages we would emphasize are:
– greater flexibility in building the identifier;
– the capacity to represent name components that are not strictly
– the potential for clear division of the identifier into macro
parts, main elements and components, using different separators;
– ease of managing optional parts of a name.

7.5 Community Considerations

The use of the “lex” namespace facilitates the interoperability of
information systems used in the Public Administration at the national
and international level. Moreover it allows the distribution of the
legal information towards a federated architecture. In such an
architecture, documents are directly managed by the issuing
authorities, with resulting benefits in information authenticity,
quality and currency. A shared identification mechanism resources
guarantees that a distributed system will be as efficient and
effective as a comparable centralized system.

Creators of Internet content that references legal materials –
including publishers operating well outside the traditional arenas of
legal publishing – benefit by the registration of the namespace
because facilitates the linking of legal documents, whether by manual
or automated means, and reduces the cost of maintaining documents

P. Spinosa Expires March 8 2012 [Page 26]


that contain such references.

Any citizen or organisation with Internet web browser capability will
be entitled to access the namespace and its associated application,
registers, and resolution services, to facilitate document access.

7.6 IANA Considerations

This document includes a URN NID registration for “lex” for entry in
the IANA registry of URN NIDs (see [RFC5226] for more information).

7.7 Security Considerations

This document introduces no additional security considerations beyond
those associated with the use and resolution of URNs in general.

8 References

8.1 Normative References

[STD63] F. Yergeau, “UTF-8, a transformation format of ISO
10646”, STD 63, RFC 3629, November 2003.

[RFC2119] S. Bradner, “Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate
Requirement Levels”, BCP 14, RFC 2119, March 1997.

[RFC3406] D Daigle, L., van Gulik, D., Iannella, R., and P.
Faltstrom, “Uniform Resource Names (URN) Namespace
Definition Mechanisms”, BCP 66, RFC 3406, October 2002.

[RFC2141] R. Moats, K. R. Sollins, “URN Syntax”, RFC 2141, May

[RFC3986] Berners-Lee, T., Fielding, R., and L. Masinter, “Uniform
Resource Identifiers (URI): Generic Syntax”, STD 66, RFC
3986, January 2005.

[RFC3403] M. Mealling, Dynamic Delegation Discovery System (DDDS),
Part Three: The Domain Name System (DNS) Database, RFC
3403, October 2002.

[RFC5226] Narten, T. and H. Alvestrand, “Guidelines for Writing an
IANA Considerations Section in RFCs”, BCP 26, RFC 5226,
May 2008

[ISO3166] ISO 3166, “Country name codes”, ISO 3166-1:1997.

[ISO639-1] ISO 639-1, “Codes for the representation of names of

P. Spinosa Expires March 8 2012 [Page 27]


languages” – Part 1: alpha-2 code, 2003.

[ISO639-2] ISO 639-2, “Codes for the representation of names of
languages” – Part 2: alpha-3 code, 1999.

[RFC2169] R. Daniel, “A Trivial Convention for using HTTP in URN”,
RFC 2169, June 1997

[RFC2045] N. Freed, N. Borenstein, “Multipurpose Internet Mail
Extensions (MIME) Part One: Format of Internet Message
Bodies”, RFC 2045, November 1996.

8.2 Informative References

[SPIN] P.L. Spinosa, “The Assignment of Uniform Names to Italian
Legal Documents”, May, 2006

[FRAN] E. Francesconi, “Technologies for European Integration.
Standards-based Interoperability of Legal Information
Systems”, ISBN 978-88-8398-050-3, European Press Academic
Publishing, 2007.

9 Acknowledgments

The authors of this document wish to thank all the registrants for
giving suggestions and comments.
They are also grateful to the Legislative XML community for the
interesting discussions on this topic and to the Working Group
“Identification of the legal resources through URNs” of Italian
NormeInRete project for the provided guidance [SPIN].
The authors owe a debt of gratitude to Tom Bruce, director of the
Legal Information Institute of the Cornell University Law School, for
his contribution in revising this document and sharing fruitful
discussions which greatly improved the final result. A special thank
goes also to Joao Alberto de Oliveira Lima, legislative system
analyst of the Brazilian Federal Senate, and to Attila Torcsvari,
information management consultant, for their detailed comments on the
first drafts of this document, which provided significant hints to
the final version of the standard. Thanks also go to Robert Richards
of the Legal Information Institute (Cornell University Law School),
promoter and maintainer of the Legal Informatics Research social
network, as well as to the members of this network, for their
valuable comments on this proposal.
Finally, many thanks go to Loriana Serrotti who significantly
contributed to the drafting of this document.

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10 Author’s Addresses

PierLuigi Spinosa, Enrico Francesconi
Istituto di Teoria e Tecniche dell’Informazione Giuridica (ITTIG)
Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR)
Via de’ Barucci, 20
50127 Firenze
Telephone: +39 055 43995
e-mail: {pierluigi.spinosa, enrico.francesconi}

Caterina Lupo
Centro Nazionale per l’Informatica nella Pubblica Amministrazione
Viale Carlo Marx, 31/49
00137 Roma
Telephone: +39 06 85264262

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Attachment A — Summary of the syntax of the uniform names of the “lex”

* General Structure of a Uniform Resource Name (URN)
* NID = namespace
* NSS = specific name
::= “urn:”“:”

* Structure of a Uniform Resource Name (URN) of the “lex” namespace
::= “lex”

::= “urn:lex:”

* Structure of a “lex” specific name
::= “:”

* Structure of the element
::= [“;”]*

::= {2,4} | ([]*)

::= []*

* Structure of the element
::= [“@”]?[“$”]?

* Structure of the element
::= “:”“:”


* Structure of the element
::= [“+”]*

::= ([“;”]*[“;”]*) |

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::= []*

::= []*

::= []*

::= []*

* Structure of the element
::= [“;”]*

::= []*

::= []*

* Structure of the


::= (|)”;”

::= [“,”]*

::= []*

::= ([“,”]*)|

::= [|]*

::= “lex-“+

* Structure of the element
::= [“;”]*

::= []*

* Structure of the element

::= [“:”]?

* Structure of the element

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::= (|)



::= []*

* Structure of the element

::= {2,3}

* Structure of the element
::= [“;”“]*

::= [|”-“]*

::= [|”-“]*

::= [|”-“]*

::= [|”-“]*

* Structure of the date
::= “-““-“

::= {4}
::= {2}
::= {2}

* Allowed characters
::= | | |

::= | “.”

::= | |

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::= “a” | “b” | “c” | “d” | “e” | “f” | “g” | “h” |
“i” | “j” | “k” | “l” | “m” | “n” | “o” | “p” |
“q” | “r” | “s” | “t” | “u” | “v” | “w” | “x” |
“y” | “z”

::= “0” | “1” | “2” | “3” | “4” | “5” | “6” | “7” |
“8” | “9”

::= (“%” ( | )){1,6}

::= “a” | “b” | “c” | “d” | “e” | “f”

::= “-” | “_” | “‘” | “=” | “(” | “)”

::= “:” | “@” | “$” | “+” | “;” | “,” | “~”

::= “*” | “!”

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Attachment B — Specific Syntax of the Identifier at Work Level

B1 The element

B1.1 Indication of the Authority

The element of a uniform name may indicate, in the
various cases:
– the actual authority issuing the legal provision. More
specifically, the authority adopting the provision or enacting it;
– the institution where the provision is registered, known and
referenced to, even if produced by others (e.g., the bills
identified through the reference to the Chamber where they are
– the institution regulated (and referred to in citations) by the
legal provision even when this is issued by another authority
(e.g., the statute of a Body);
– the entity that proposed the legal material not yet included in the
institutional process (e.g. a proposed bill written by a a
political party).

B1.2 Multiple Issuers

Some sources of law are enacted by a number of issuing parties (e.g.,
inter-ministerial decrees, agreements, etc.). In this case, the
element contains all the issuing parties (properly
separated), as follows:

::= [“+”]*

(e.g., “ministry.justice+ministry.finances”)

B1.3 Indication of the Issuer

Each issuing authority is essentially represented by either an
institutional office (e.g., Prime Minister) or an institution (e.g.,
Ministry); in the last case, the authority is indicated in accordance
with the institution’s hierarchical structure, from the more general
to more specific (Council, Department, etc.), ending with the
relative office (President, Director, etc.).
Therefore, the structure of the issuer is as follows:

::= ([“;”]*[“;”]*) |

(e.g., “ministry.finances;department.revenues;manager”)

B1.4 Indication of the Body

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Depending on the kind of measure, the body within the issuing
authority is unambiguously determined (e.g., the Council for Regional
Acts) and normally it is not indicated in the references.
Just like in practice, the indication of the enacting authority is
limited to the minimum in relation to the type of measure.
(e.g., “region.tuscany:act” and not “region.tuscany;council:act”)

B1.5 Indication of the Function

Generally, the component is indicated, sometimes instead
of the body itself:
– in case of political, representative or elective offices
(e.g., “university.oxford;rector:decree” instead of
– when it refers to a top officer in the institution (e.g., general
manager, general secretary, etc.) which is not always possible to
associate a specific internal institutional structure to
(e.g., “national.council.research;general.manager”).

It is not indicated when it clearly corresponds to the person in
charge of an institution (typically, a general director); in this
case, only the structure and not the person in charge is indicated
(e.g., “ministry.justice;department.penitentiary.administration”).

The function MUST be indicated when:
– it is not the same of the director or the person in charge of the
structure (for example, in case of an undersecretary, a deputy
director, etc.);
– the type of measure may be both monocratic or collegial: the
indication of the office eliminates the ambiguity.

B1.6 Conventions for the Authority

Acts and measures bearing the same relevance as an act, issued or
enacted since the foundation of the State, have conventionally
indicated “state” (expressed in each country official language) as
authority; the same convention is used for constitutions, codes
(civil, criminal, civil procedure, criminal procedure, etc) and
international treaties.

B2 The element

B2.1 Criteria for the Indication of the Type of Measure

In uniform names the issuing authority of a document is mandatory.
This makes unnecessary to indicate any further qualification of the
measure (e.g., ministerial decree, directorial ordinance, etc.), even
if it is widely used.

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When the authority-measure combination clearly identifies a specific
document, the type of measure is not defined through attributes
referring to the enacting authority.
(e.g., “region.tuscany:act” and not “region.tuscany:regional.act”)

B2.2 Further Specification to the Type of Measure

In the element, it is usually sufficient to indicate the
type of a measure. As usual, references to sources of law, rather
than through the formal details (date and number), may be made
through some of their characteristics such as the subject-matter
covered (e.g., accounting regulations), nicknames referring to the
promoter (e.g., Bassanini Act) or to the topic of the act (e.g.,
Bankruptcy Law), etc..
In these cases, the type of measure MAY be followed by further
specifications useful in referencing even if the details are lacking:


(e.g., “regulations;accounting” or “act;bankruptcy”)

B2.3 Aliases for Sources of Law with Different Normative References

There are legislative measures that, although unique, are usually
cited in different ways, for example through the legislative act
introducing them into the legal order (President’s decree,
legislative decree, etc.) or through their legislative category
(regulations, consolidation, etc.).
In order to ensure, in all the cases, the validity of the references,
an alias that takes into account the measure category is associated
to the uniform name, representing the legislative form.
(e.g., “state:decree.legislative:1992-07-24;358” and

B2.4 Relations between Measure and Authority in the Aliases

The sources of law including different normative references are
usually introduced in legislation through the adoption or the issuing
of an act, which they are either included or attached to. It is,
therefore, necessary to create an alias linking the two aspects of
the same document. Specifically, the different measures can be:
– adopted/issued by an authority different from the one regulated by
the provision (e.g., the statute of a Body); in this case, the
correlation is established between two uniform names each featuring
a completely different element
(e.g., “italian.society.authors.publishers:statute” and

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– issued by the institution itself either because it has issuing
authority or by virtue of a proxy (e.g., a provision that refers to
the functioning of the Body itself); in this case, the two aliases
share the first part of the authority;
(e.g., “municipality.firenze:statute” and
– issued by the same Body to regulate a particular sector of its own
competence; in this case the element is the same
(e.g., “ministry.justice:regulation;
telematic.process” and “ministry.justice:decree”).

B3 The


B3.1 Indication of the Details

The details of a source of law usually include the date of the
enactment and the identification number (inclusion in the body of
laws, register, protocol, etc.).
Some measures can have multiple dates; there are also cases in which
the number of the measure does not exist (unnumbered measures) or a
measure has multiple numbers (e.g., unified cases). For these
reasons, the set up of both elements (date and number) includes
multiple values.

Some institutions (e.g., the Parliaments) usually identify documents
through their period of reference (e.g., the legislature number)
rather than through a date, which would be much less meaningful and
never used in references (e.g., Senate bill S.2544 of the XIV
legislature). In these cases, the component is used in
substitution of the component .

Usually details of a measure are not reported according to a specific
sequence; in accordance with the global structure of the uniform
name, which goes from the general to the specific, the sequence date-
number has the following form:


(e.g., “2000-12-06;126”, “14.legislature;s.2544”)

B3.2 Multiple Dates

Some sources of law, even if unique, are identified by more than one
date; in this case, in the field all the given dates are to
be reported and indicated as follows:


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(e.g., the measure of the Data Protection Authority of December 30,
1999- January 13, 2000, No. 1/P/2000 has the following uniform name:

B3.3 Unnumbered Measures

Measures not officially numbered in the publications may have a non-
unequivolcal identifier, because several measures of the same type
can exist, issued on the same day by the same authority.
To ensure that the uniform name is unambiguous, the field
MUST, in any case, contain a discriminating element, which can be any
identifier used internally, and not published, by the authority
(e.g., protocol).
If the authority does not have its own identifier, one identifier
MUST be created for the name system. In order to easily differentiate
it, such number is preceded by the string “lex-“:


(e.g., “ministry.finances:decree:1999-12-20;lex-3”)

It is responsibility of the authority issuing a document to assign a
discriminating specification to it; in case of multiple authorities,
only one of them is responsible for the assignment of the number to
the document (e.g., the proponent).
The unnumbered measures published on an official publication (e.g.,
the Official Gazette), instead of by a progressive number are
recognized by the univocal identifying label printed on the paper.
Such an identifier, even if unofficial but assigned to a document in
an official publication, is to be preferred because it has the clear
advantage to be public and therefore easier to be found.

B3.4 Multiple Numbers

Some legal documents (e.g., bills), even if unique, are identified by
a set of numbers (e.g., the unification of cases or bills).
In this case, in the field, all the identifiers are
reported, according to the following structure:


(e.g., “2000-06-12;c-10-97,c-11-97,c-12-97”)
The characters which are not allowed (e.g., “/”) or reserved (e.g.,
“:”), including the comma, cannot exist inside the , and
therefore MUST be turned into “-“.
This conversion may imply that the uniform name of the document is no
more unique (e.g., removal 123-BIS and return 123/BIS of the bill 123

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both are identified as “123-bis”); in this case, it is necessary to
add a specific distinctive ending (e.g., “123-bis-removal” and “123-

B4 The element

B4.1 Formal Annexes

Although annexes are an integral part of the legal document, they may
be referred to and undergo amendments separately from the act to
which they are annexed. It is, therefore, necessary that both the
main document as well as each formal individual annex is univocally

Formal annexes may be registered as separate parts or together with a
legal provision; they may also be autonomous in nature or not. In any
case, they MUST be given a uniform name, which includes the uniform
name of the source of law to which they are attached, and a suffix
which identifies the annex itself.

The suffix of formal annexes includes the official heading of the
annex and, possibly, further specifications (e.g., the title) which
will facilitate the retrieval of the annex in case the identifier is


(e.g., “region.sicily;council:deliberation:1998-02-12;14:annex.a;

The characters which are not allowed (e.g. “/”) or which are reserved
(e.g. “:”) must not be featured in the and therefore MUST
be turned into “.”.

B4.2 Annexes of Annexes

When there are annexes to an annex, their corresponding identifiers
are created by adding to the identifier of the original annex those
of the annexes that are connected with it (that is, attached to it).

(e.g., Table 1 attached to Attachment A of the preceding legal act
has the following uniform name:

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Attachment C — Specific Syntax of the Element of the

C1 The element

C1.1 Different Versions of a Legislative Document

The creation of an updated text of a document may have one of the
following forms:
– “multi-version”: when specific mark-ups which identify the modified
parts of a document (added, substituted or deleted parts) and their
related periods of effectiveness are indicated inside one single
object (e.g., an xml file). Such a document will be able, in a
dynamic way, to appear in different forms according to the
requested date of effectiveness;
– “single-version”: when, on the contrary, a new and distinct object
is created for each amendment to the text at a given time. Each
object is, therefore, characterized by its own period of validity.
In any case all the versions SHOULD be linked one another and
immediately navigable.

C1.2 Identification of the Version

In order to identify the different time versions of the same act, to
the uniform name of the original document has to be added a specific
Such a suffix identifies each version of a legal provision and
includes, first and foremost, one of the following elements:
– the issuing date of the last amending measure taken into account;
– the date in which the communication of the rectification or of the
errata corrige, is published;
– a specification which must identify the reason concerning the
amendment (e.g., the specific phase of the legislative process),
for the cases in which the date is not usually used (e.g., bills).

Anyway it is possible to add further specifications that will
distinguish each of the different versions of the text to guarantee
identifier unequivocalness. For example with regard to changes of the
in-force or effectiveness of any partition or portion of the text
itself (e.g., when the amendments introduced by an act are applied at
different times) or different events occurring in the same date.


contains the issuing date of the last considered

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amendment or of the last communication of amendment. In case the
original text introduces differentiated periods in which an act is
effective and the information system produces one version for each
of them, such element contains the string “original”;
any information useful to identify unambiguously
and univocally the version;
contains the date in which a version is put into
force, is effective or is published;
is a name assigned to the event producing a further version
(e.g., amendment, decision, etc.).

The issuing date of an amending act was chosen as identifier of a
version because it can be obtained from the heading (formal data).

(e.g., the name “state:royal.decree:1941-01-30;12@1998-02-19”
identifies the updated text of the “Royal Decree of 30/1/1941, No.
12” with the amendments introduced by the “Law Decree of 19/2/1998,
No. 51”, without any indication of its actual entry into force. The
same uniform name with the additional ending “;1999-01-01” indicates
the in-force or effective version starting in a different date (from

For a full compatibility, every updating of a text or of the
effectiveness of a “multi-version” document implies the creation of a
new uniform name, even if the object remains only one, containing the
identifier of the virtually generated version, exactly as in the case
of a “single-version” document. A specific meta-data will associate
every uniform name with the period of time during which such a name
together with its corresponding text is to be considered valid.

(e.g., the multi-version document containing the “R.D. of 01/30/1941,
no. 12”, updated by the amendments introduced by the “D.Lgs. of
02/19/1998, no. 51”, contains the name of the original
“state:royal.decree:1941-01-30;12” as well as the name of the updated
version “state:royal.decree:1941-01-30;12@1998-02-19”).

Please note that in case of attachments or annexes, the creation of a
new version (even in the case of only one component) would imply the
creation of a new uniform name for all the connected objects in order
to guarantee their alignment (i.e., the main document, the
attachments and annexes).

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