Emergence of network effects and predictability in the judicial system

Enys Mones, Piotr Sapieżyński, Simon Thordal, Henrik Palmer Olsen, Sune Lehmann*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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As courts strive to simultaneously remain self-consistent and adapt to new legal challenges, a complex network of of citations between decided cases is established. Using network science methods to analyze the underlying patterns of citations between cases can help us understand the large-scale mechanisms which shape the judicial system. Here, we use the case-to-case citation structure of the Court of Justice of the European Union to examine this question. Using a link-prediction model, we show that over time the complex network of citations evolves in a way which improves our ability to predict new citations. Investigating the factors which enable prediction over time, we find that the content of the case documents plays a decreasing role, whereas both the predictive power and significance of the citation network structure itself show a consistent increase over time. Finally, our analysis enables us to validate existing citations and recommend potential citations for future cases within the court.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2740
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported a Young Investigator Grant (High Resolution Networks) and a Synergy Grant (Nation Scale Social Networks) from the Villum Foundation.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).


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