The Law Clinic

Ministry of the Environment experimented with a new way to develop legislation – Will engagement lead to better laws?

“I believe that this will be the operating model of the future. Now we know how we can agilely engage the sector to give its own view for legislation reform. The operating model we developed can be fundamentally duplicated for all legislative work that aims to hear the players’ voices."

In early 2018, as part of the KIRA-digi project, the Ministry of the Environment decided to try a new way to develop legislation. To support the legislative work, it sought out a project implementer to explore the issues that hamper the digitalization of the real estate and construction sector.

 

Already the project’s procurement process differed from the traditional: this time the competitive factors weren’t based on price, but on service design and overall concept. Lexia was chosen for its extensive expertise in real estate and construction sector law, its digitalization know-how, and its service design expertise.

 

The Law Clinic website was launched in April 2018. The biggest challenge initially was to communicate the existence of the Law Clinic to those whom the service targeted. The head of the project at Lexia, Lawyer Aleksi Lundén, attended different sector events in spring 2018 to share information about the Law Clinic with as many players as possible. Also participants of the projects included in the KIRA-digi project were interviewed, because it was discovered that interviews were an excellent channel for spreading information about the service.

 

The questions and remarks about the service were very diverse and touched on many different legal areas. It was also noticed rather quickly that the sector players don’t always inherently distinguish between which issue is due to legislation and which is due to some other factor. However, most important was overall management so that a factual and contemporary snapshot could be given to the Ministry.

 

The project’s final report was published in January 2019. The players expressed a desire for legislation that was clear and clearly interpreted. In particular, changes related to the transparency, relevance, and availability of information were hoped for. If interfaces of the public sector information flow are opened, companies believe that they can create new kinds of business. According to the results, the public sector should be obligated to keep opened information sources up to date and ensure accessibility to the information.

 

The feedback also indicated that regulatory processes and activities should be more predictable and they should be standardized through legislation. In fact, according to Ministerial Counselor Jaana Junnila from the Ministry of the Environment, which ordered the work, a big future challenge is to think about how to develop laws in a more customer-oriented manner.

 

“We officials operate by sector, but the customer’s situation is almost always cross-governmental. In addition to the familiar Land Use and Building Act, the legal problems of digitalization include data protection, copyrights, and procurement regulations, which are usually addressed by other ministries. In the Land Use and Building Act reform we can’t solve problems related to, e.g., data transmission copyrights. Tight collaboration between ministries is needed for that,” says Ministerial Counselor Jaana Junnila from the Ministry of the Environment.

 

The Ministry of the Environment will consider the Law Clinic’s results, especially the kinds of remarks that are within the sphere of the ministry’s drafting of legislation. For example, in the Land Use and Building Act reform, the report’s conclusions will be carefully reviewed.

 

“I believe that this will be the operating model of the future. Now we know how we can agilely engage the sector to give its own view for legislation reform. The operating model we developed can be fundamentally duplicated for all legislative work that aims to hear the players’ voices,” Aleksi says.

 

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