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Research Study on Computational Law


This Research Study is part of the core output of the COHUBICOL project, which stands for ‘Counting as a human being in the era of computational law’. It is the project’s second Research Study, focusing on the potential impact of data- and code-driven technologies on law, the Rule of Law and legal protection.


This study has three chapters. They were written by Pauline McBride and Laurence Diver, both postdoctoral researchers in COHUBICOL.

  • In the first chapter Pauline McBride summarises the central concerns and theoretical foundations of the project. She re-articulates and explores the framing concepts of (1) affordance and (2) mode of existence and outlines complementary theoretical approaches with a view to their application in the second and third chapters.
  • In the second chapter McBride examines the potential impact of data-driven legal technologies on legal protection and the Rule of Law, distinguishing between uses which have an effect on legal effect and those that fundamentally impact on law’s mode of existence.
  • In the third chapter Laurence Diver discusses the potential impact of Rules as Code (RaC) approaches on legal protection and the Rule of Law. The chapter sets out a spectrum of impact, where the effect on legal effect is amplified as the balance shifts away from natural language representations of law towards computational representations. The broad conclusion is that some RaC systems have the potential to enhance legal protection, while others risk undermining it.

Your feedback is welcome

We welcome feedback. You can contact the team by email ( or on Twitter (@cohubicol1). The authors’ profiles are also linked to above; feel free to get in touch directly.


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Please cite as: Pauline McBride and Laurence Diver, Research Study on Computational Law (Brussels 2024), funded by the ERC Advanced Grant ‘Counting as a Human Being in the Era of Computational Law’ (COHUBICOL) by the European Research Council (ERC) under the HORIZON2020 Excellence of Science program ERC-2017-ADG No 788734 (2019-2024).

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This Research Study is licensed under the Creative Commons BY-NC license.

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This page was last updated on 5 January 2024.