High-Browse: From reading financial regulations to creating a legal platform

The Idea

For many years I worked in Risk Reporting in the banking sector.

While working in regulatory reporting projects I always felt that a lot of time is wasted going back and forth between documents, as each legal document tend to have a lot of references to other documents.

I was keen to find out if it is possible to make a tool where, when a user is reading a document on-screen, the documents that are mentioned as references can be shown inside popups. This will enable users to not changing the screen back and forth to read up references, thus providing a better reading experience.

Popups with information about a reference are, of course, coming up at the time with Wikipedia, showing summaries of certain referenced topics inside every document.

But I wanted to see entire regulations referred to in regulatory documents, just by hovering on them.

The challenge, therefore, was to find regulations and then link each to multiple other regulations in such a way, that we can quickly show them inside popups.

The Research

As result, I and a friend of mine started to research on different data sources to find financial regulations and their dependencies.

Thus, for example, if a financial regulation is an amendment to a previous regulation, then the previous regulation is dependent on it and the reader will not see the whole picture without reading both.

Then, from an IT perspective, we tried to find how easy was it to link these documents to one another, even if they are from different data sources.

Very early on in our research, we realized that this idea of linking regulations can be applied to the entire legal world and can be taken far beyond the initial scope of just linking financial regulations with their recent amendments and replacements.

We can link, for example, a law to all changes made in the past.

Therefore, in a situation where only an earlier version of the law is needed, as the proceedings of a case is from that time, it can be shown in the same page where a user reviews the current version.

We can also link upcoming changes to the law.

So, if the management of a corporation wants to take any decision based on those upcoming changes, they can do so by viewing the law and its upcoming changes on the same page.

We found that it is also possible to link all cases based on a certain law and cases to one another, providing future references. Another key observation is that, not only can we link cases based on references, but by running analytics, we can also link them to cases and laws based on several other factors like Parties, Courts etc.

The Product

As a result, the initial idea to create a personalized tool for reading financial regulation grew to create the foundation of High-Browse with the following initial features:  

  • Search and find results for legal acts and case-laws on the same page. 
  • Advanced search based on dates, text etc. to narrow down search results. 
  • Using analytics to find relations amongst legal acts (replacements, amendments, supplementary regulations, upcoming changes etc.) and between legal acts and case-laws (a legal act that is referenced in a case for example). 
  • All the above mention results for each document are then presented to the user under one page. 
  • All original documents are modified to embed texts inside regulations or articles, whenever they are mentioned. These embedded texts then popup on mouse hover above them. 
  • Additionally, features to take and share notes were also added. 

Now with the first version of High-Browse up and running, analysis of legal data has become easier than before. This has opened many more possibilities of using data and analytics in the legal world, making it a great endeavour to pursue.