Content analysis v legal analysis?

by Rita Felgate (Adv.)

Content analysis refers to a methodology of identifying textually described elements contained in a piece of text, and evaluating the internal integrity and consistency of the treatment of those elements throughout that text.

The focus of legal analysis, on the other hand, is on legal relationships that arise from legislation, within a context of facts, and on the consequential rights, obligations and duties arising from that relationship, in law.  When questions regarding these arise, legal analysis becomes necessary.

To the extent that legislation describes a context of facts as giving rise to a legal relationship expressed as consequential rights, obligations and duties, sanctions and so on, legal analysis musts include a component of content analysis to take into account the requirements of that legislative text regarding the consequence of those facts.

Content analysis is therefore a necessary a priori component to legal analysis. However, legal analysis is not a necessary component to content analysis: Until questions of legal relationship arise, content analysis of that legislation is adequate to understanding the general import, application, and procedures expressed in the legislation.

Most legal practitioners and legal analysts are not specifically trained in content analysis, as opposed to legal analysis: Content analysis is something undertaken casuistically if and when a legal matter requires and is a skill learned along the way, often to the surprise of the practitioner, who realizes one day that every word, every element, of text matters and counts towards its interpretation.

I have specialised in content analysis of legislation, and what has surprised me, is the extent to which I have been able to develop a set of tools which would facilitate legal analysis. These include specially annotated legislation database, engrossing methodology, proprietary electronic software, factual transgression analysis, and a rich cross-referenced commentary on the results of mycontent analysis of legislation.

Content analysis in an area of study, within the field of law, which deserves much more attention.

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