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Tuesday, 29 November 2022

Dr Ahmed Izzidien, Ms Holli Sargeant and Associate Professor Felix Steffek have identified the topics the courts of the United Kingdom have dealt with in cases, in which contracts play a role. The research is based on the Cambridge Law Corpus, a dataset comprising around 500,000 cases between 1709 and 2021. The research team employed machine learning and natural language processing to, first, ascertain the cases that involve contracts and, second, identify the topics they are dealing with.

The findings show that different topics appear before courts in the United Kingdom at different rates across different historical periods. Succession law is a topic that dominates early. In more recent times, decisions concerning property, government and employment play a significant role. Cases pertaining to family, company, commercial and consumer issues are relevant, but less prominent. The researchers have visualised the results as a racing bar chart.

The results are influenced by the number of cases in the Cambridge Law Corpus over time. For example, in the recent 50 years many more cases were reported than in the 19th century. It is also worth noting that the definition of the topics strongly influences the distribution in the results. For example, instead of applying a broadly defined general commercial topic, this research used more specific commercial subtopics such as competition, construction, insurance and transport.

For more information, please see the full poster.

The research was generously funded by the Cambridge Language Sciences Incubator Fund and the Cambridge Humanities Research Grants Scheme.