The publication and online accessibility of norms in Germany

  • Ulrich Karpen
Keywords: Germany, publishing, Internet law

Abstract

In this article Professor Dr Ulrich Karpen explains, with reference to the experience in Germany, that all legal norms must be published in the sense that they must be accessible to everybody who is affected by them. Nobody can obey secret law in a rule-of-law state. Publication is an integral element and the last step of lawmaking. Traditionally Parliamentary laws – and most statutory instruments – are published in paper form in a Law-Gazette. Newer forms of communication, mainly the internet, enable state governments to publish norms faster and facilitate access. There are, however, doubts over whether electronic publication is as reliable, durable and unassailable from outside as paper gazettes. This is one reason why some states take a different approach and are reluctant to change entirely, publishing laws in both new and traditional forms. However, internet access to the texts of regulations is granted in all technically developed countries. This paper analyses publication methods in the Federal Republic of Germany.

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