Introduction to NormeinRete

Normeinrete or “Norme in rete” means “norms, laws and regulations put online” and it started in 1999. One of its resuslts, the web portal and content aggregator “”was an official websitee of the Italian Government that was first announced in 1999 and offered for years semantic legislative information online services and capable of developed search functionalities. The website offered several products on line, concerning rules produced by the Italian State and Regions, but also by the European Community. In fact NIR-Normeinrete was defined as a «Portal of access to rules which have been published by the participating Public Administrations». It collected and standardized texts from existing legislative sources. It also offered search and retrieval services operating on all Italian laws since 1904, and utilities for automated hyperlinking.

The entire project documentations and other information related to the project are also available (in Italian). The portal includes e-learning facilities, a software download section to deliver open source utilities developed by the project team, and a best-practices section to encourage experiences re-use, in order to create a virtual space for knowledge sharing within the Public administrations

“NormeInRete”was suddenly interrupted in 2009, when it was de facto replaced by the project “Normattiva”. In 2010, it was an announcement from the Ministry of Justice that Norme In Rete was not available anymore,

In 2010, the Italian Government created Normattiva (“active norm/law” or “norms on the net”), with its final goal being “the creation of a fully integrated database that offer a unique, friendly access to the whole corpus of norms (from several sources) that regulate the several spheres of social life”. replacing a website that had been for almost ten years doing some similar functions.

“Normeinrete is the name of a national project for the realization of a portal equipped with research features operating on prescriptive documents accessible from the websites of government institutions participating in the project, implementing non intrusive methods of integration of the various computer systems belonging to the participating institutions.

The project proposes to realize a computer system which, based on presently available technology,
is able to multiply the benefits each civil service department can pursue in terms of information
transparency and accessibility through the WEB publication of documentation of prescriptive
interest ” .(1)

The NormeinRete Project was the result of several years of collaboration between technology and law scholars, software developers and public administrators. It started with the leadership of the Italian CNIPA together with the Italian Ministry of Justice, and it gathered several Italian public institutions and research organizations.

The main results of NormeinRete was:
• the web portal (
• a “standard for XML representation of legal documents. DTDs and XML Schemas for Italian legislation have been defined; these schemas can represent metadata and all the significant information useful to automate legislative documents life-cycle management. Moreover, the availability of XML documents marked-up according to shared formats allows to provide advanced search and retrieval functions operating on heterogeneous data bases effectively.
• A standard for persistent identification of legal documents”(2), in compliance with the IETF Uniform Resource Name (3) [Moats and Sollins, 1997], with identifiers.

“The NormeinRete standards have been issued as Technical Norms by Italian Authority for information technology in the Public Administration (AIPA now CNIPA), and published on the Italian Official Journal.

Nowadays, both standards have being adopted, in addition to the majority of Italian public administration, by a growing number of private operators. For example, the whole legislative documents collection of Italian Supreme Court of Cassation, the most wide and prestigious national collection in this field, adopt NormeinRete standards.”(4)


“Arguably, the greatest strength of the NormeInRete project is the separation of the technical aspects of creating a shared standard from the related efforts of creating software that handles it. This means that in NormeInRete the characteristics of the software are derived rather than driving the characteristics of the standard, which allows multiple players to contribute software that are compatible with the standards and a healthy competition to exist.

This approach, albeit slower and more difficult than the classical approach of document data formats being the subproduct of an implemented software, has the advantages of keeping the actual details o the data independent of the software being used and of fostering interoperability at all levels.

Another important strength of the NormeinRete approach is that the data format is not meant to legislative offices only, but to all individuals and organizations dealing with legislative documents, both in the public and private sectors: creators, publishers, readers.”(5)

NormeInRete “evolved considerably from a simple document format aimed at national legislation
into a flexible tools that can be used to map and describe all the technical nuances of the complex and convoluted legislative system that is in place in Italy.

Even trends in how laws are drafted change over time, and Italy has a legislative tradition spanning over 140 years of history, including a kingdom, a dictatorship, a temporary secession and a republic, as well as documents spanning from national, to international, regional and local levels. Furthermore, after an initial stage of strict and careful design, NormeinRete has further grown out of aggregation, and once simple structures have evolved into rather complex content models out of the need
to take care to individual exceptions found here and there in the complex body of the existing legislation.

For this reason, the full set of schemas constituting NormeInRete is huge and can be frightening at first. Many elements are in place for dealing with tiny special cases that have little impact on the majority of legislation, yet are relevant for specialized applications. The whole discussion about provisions can be considered of interest to scholars only, and possibly to implementers of specialized applications (such as generators of current texts), but are surely excessive for many simpler needs such as publishing or storage.

To partially overcome this problem, the Simplified schema, which is considerably simpler to learn and use, should be adequate for the needs of most users, yet still is fully compatible with the other, more complete schemas.”(6)

“With the adoption of XML for the Normeinrete project, the description of the legislative text
(DTD) has been reliably formulated by national URN and DTD work groups and is now the official
standard. The standard relative to references and the description and modeling of the formal and
fundamental structure (analytical meta-data) of laws, already officially adopted, can be used for the
network description of legislative documents as well as, naturally, and to greater advantage, during
the drafting of new projects. In other words, for both describing and writing laws.

A program designed to help draft law texts can, and should, use the same without the need to
reformulate them. This should not require any particular effort of engineering: programs for
drafting texts in XML already exist. Therefore, there is all the more reason that an XML editor,
guided by models supplied by us, can be used in the drafting of bills since, compared to an ordinary
word processing program, it includes a guide to the correct expression of references and text
structures, thanks to the availability of the (URN, DTD) models.”(7)


Notes and References

  1. (cit.
  2. XML format(s) for legal Sources, Estrella Deliverable 3.1, Caterina Lupo et al. (2007)
  3. Idem 2
  4. Idem 2
  5. Idem 2
  6. Idem 2
  7. An XML Editor for Legislative Drafting Software for the application of NIR1 standards (XML, URN, DTD) Specialist word processing program for Italian legislative texts, C.Biagioli et al.

See Also

  • Semantic Web and Law
  • Semantic Indexing and Law
  • XML Standards for Legislation
  • MetaLex
  • LegalXML
  • Linked Data Principles to Legal Information
  • LexDania
  • CHLexML
  • EnAct
  • Legal RDF
  • eLaw
  • LAMS
  • JSMS
  • UKMF
  • Estrella Project
  • Legal Ontologies
  • Artificial Intelligence and Law
  • Free Access to Law Movement
  • Legal Information Institute resources

Further Reading

  • Arnold-Moore, T. (1997). Automatic generation of amendment legislation. In Proceedings of the International Conference of Artificial Intelligence and Law.
  • Biagioli, C. and Francesconi, E. (2005). A semantics-based visual framework for planning a new bill. In Proceedings of the Jurix Conference: Legal Knowledge and Information Systems.
  • Jérôme Fuselier et Boris Chidlovskii, Traitements Automatiques pour la Migration de Documents Numériques vers XML, in Document Numérique, vol 9/1 -2006.
  • Ovidiu Vasutiu, David Jouve, Youssef Amghar, Jean-Marie Pinon, XML based Legal Document Drafting Information System, 20th Aniversary Annual JURIX Conference, Workshop on Legislative XML, LIRIS, 12/2007
  • Data models for version management of legislative documents, Marà­a Hallo Carrasco,
    Journal of Information Science.
  • V. R. Benjamins, P. Casanovas, J. Breuker, and A. Gangemi, editors. Law and the Semantic
    Web: Legal Ontologies, Methodologies, Legal Information Retrieval and Applications.
    Springer-Verlag, 2005.
  • C. Lupo and C. Batini. A federative approach to laws access by citizens: The Normeinrete system. In R. Traunmuller, editor, Proc. Second International Conference on Electronic
    Government, Berlin, 2003. Springer.
  • R. Rubino, A. Rotolo, and G. Sartor. An OWL ontology of fundamental legal concepts. In
    Proc. JURIX 2006, pages 101-110, 2006.
  • S. Sadiq, M. Orlowska, andW. Sadiq. Specification and validation of process constraints for
    flexible workflows. Information Systems, 30(5):349-378, 2005.
  • Sébastien Ros, Mapping objet-relationnel, Couches d’accès aux données et Frameworks de persistance, Février 2003
  • Guillaume ZUNINO, «Outils de transformation de données XML», Université de Caen, Master 2005-2006
  • Thomas F. Gordon, Guido Governatori, and Antonino Rotolo. Rules and norms: Requirements for rule interchange languages in the legal domain. In Guido Governatori, John Hall, and Adrian Paschke, editors, Rule Representation, Interchange and Reasoning on the Web, LNCS 5858, pages 282-296. Springer, 2009.
  • Long-term preservation of legal resources, Gioele Barabucci et al.
  • Electronic Government and the Information Systems Perspective, Kim Normann Andersen, ?Enrico Francesconi, ?Ake Grünlund
  • Legislative xml: principles and technical tools (commissioned by the inter-american development bank), Monica Palmirani



, ,



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *