Lex-Atlas: Covid-19: A Comparative Study of National Legal Responses to COVID-19.

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Laws

Abstract

Original application: 'The project's core deliverables are a Compendium, a Database and a Final Report by fourteen internationally distinguished scholars on the legal responses to Covid-19 in 80 countries across all regions of the world.

The Compendium comprises 80 national reports written by local legal experts on the relevant country's response to Covid-19, covering: (1) the constitutional/legal framework; (2) the functioning of institutions (e.g. legislatures, courts); (3) the core public health measures adopted; (4) the social and economic measures adopted; and (5) key legal measures in respect of civil liberties and vulnerable groups.

The Database collates determinate and quantifiable data on these themes, allowing users to conduct comprehensive cross-national comparisons and correlations with other known socio-economic, political and health data.

The Final Report will comprise:

1. an analytical overview of the data, identifying response trends and correlations to major socio-economic and health indicators; and
2. an in-depth critical analysis of various thematic areas (e.g. privacy, civil liberties, migration), proposing best and worst practices in relation to different themes as well as overall state performance.

The deliverables provide critical comparative data for the assessment of the UK's response to Covid-19 as well as for future pandemic preparedness, in general and with particular reference to several topics and questions identified as critical by UKRI: economic, gender and race inequalities; security and justice; national recovery and transformation; contact tracing; and national security and foreign policy. The project's dissemination plans include a clear and viable impact pathway into decision-making in the UK Parliament as well as in Whitehall.'

From the www.lexatlas-c19.org website, more media friendly:

"The Lex-Atlas: Covid-19 (LAC19) project was launched in the fall 2020 and will provide a scholarly analysis of national legal responses to Covid-19 around the world. Updated across 2021, it will be published open-access by Oxford University Press. It is the product of a vast collaboration of legal experts from across the world, led by University College London, King's College London, the Max Planck Institute of Comparative Public Law and generously supported by the UK's Arts and Humanities Research Council.

The project is motivated by the need for a comprehensive overview of national legal responses to Covid-19. The pandemic has many facets, and national responses have varied considerably. Quite apart from epidemiological performance, countries have employed emergency powers differently, have had different kinds of institutional disruption, diverged in public health measures, and have had variable social policy coverage and responses to the human rights needs of vulnerable groups. A scholarly overview of these legal responses is required both to assess past political choices and to prepare for future pandemics. Cataloguing them in detail will also be an important contribution to the history of the pandemic. However, the complexity and fluid nature of the subject-matter essentially requires an unconventional scholarly approach. To make the international comparisons valuable, it requires a high degree of coordination between distinguished national legal experts, a large editorial team applying a consistent methodology, and the capacity to change national portraits as the law and policy shifts in line with the evolution of the pandemic.

The project seeks to meet this need through a world-wide collaboration between legal scholars. The project's core deliverables include a Compendium of Country Reports, a Database, and a Final Report covering best and worst practices in the views of the project's Editorial Committee. All deliverables will be open-access and data will be held open-source. The project portal and further details are available at www.lexatlas-c19.org."
 
Description As a result of the funding awarded to the LAC19 project, we were able to produce the Oxford Compendium of National Legal Responses to Covid-19 - authored by more than 200 distinguished national legal scholars and edited by an Editorial Committee composed of internationally recognised experts, a resource that provides a neutral, granular, high-quality account of the government response to the pandemic in over 60 countries. The open-access format allows the general public, alongside academics and policymakers, to access the resource free of charge. All country reports of the Compendium follow the same format and respond to the same questions included in an Author Guidance Code allowing the reader to easily compare different countries' responses to Covid-19 in areas including public health measures, social and economic measures, institutional oversight, impact on vulnerable groups human rights and much more.

We were also able to produce datasets (some of which are already completed, with two of them available online, others are in the making) providing a wealth of quantitative data on specific aspects of countries' responses to the pandemic (for instance use of emergency powers, federalism, access to courts, etc). Each dataset will eventually be accompanied by graphs, charts and tables and a 'policy brief' (a short analysis of the data that has been mined) for the public to use freely. Alternatively, thanks to the data mining and coding by the team, it is possible for the general public to draw its own charts, graphs, and carry out their own analysis relevant data from these datasets (which are all open-source).

We have also been able to produce the Lex-Atlas: Covid-19 blog, which nicely complements the Compendium providing insights and analyses of national contexts and court cases as well as updates on a country's situation in-between the publication of the Compendium's updates. The ongoing exchange between the different members of the Lex-Atlas: Covid-19 network and the team have resulted in the production of symposia on various topics such as mandatory vaccination, as well as a document highlighting the legal, ethical, and constitutional principles on mandatory vaccination (the 'Principles'). This type of document is the result of a carefully balanced drafting that reflects the views of various legal experts with very diverse backgrounds. It has already been relied on by policymakers, including the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
As well as all of the outputs mentioned, the funding will enable the core team of the project (principal investigators and Editorial Committee members) to produce a Final Report providing a comparative, critical assessment of national legal responses to Covid-19 on each of their areas of expertise (including emergency powers, federalism, authoritarianism, access to courts, human rights litigation). This assessment will include best and worst practices, and will rely on both the Compendium and the dataset to provide case studies and examples to the reader. And the Final Report and the policy briefs that accompany the Datasets will critically evaluate responses to the current pandemics, enabling accountability and suggesting which avenues and principles could be useful for future pandemic preparedness.
Exploitation Route The Compendium, Datasets, Blog pieces and analytical outputs of the project will provide academics, policymakers and the general public with a wealth of data and analyses of how different countries' responded to the pandemic with regards to a large number of specific issues (i.e. what public health measures were adopted, different ways of implementing similar measures, institutional behaviour and performance, impact on human rights and the rule of law, social and economic measures adopted, etc). As well as the analyses carried out and published by members of the project, the users will be able to access the raw data free of charge and make their own comparisons or even create their own datasets on any given topic. The Compendium will also be a resource for historians, both of commentary and as a collection of original sources (hyperlinks are archived).

The datasets (open-source) can be used to compare different countries at once on a specific topic ; or have an overview of one specific country's response to the pandemic on a specific topic, including more granular information that perhaps would not have been spotted when reading the report; or (c) manipulate the data thanks to the coding to create one's own dataset. Alternatively, it is possible for the general public or for policymakers to rely on the graphs, charts, and policy briefs carried out by the team to gain a critical insight or to re-use during a presentation, for instance.

It is also possible to browse through our blog to access blog posts on chosen issues or countries written by distinguished national legal experts - whereas the Compendium is neutrally written, blog posts include the critical views of the author and therefore provide the reader with the legal analysis related to a case, a policy, etc.
The Final Report - composed of chapters authored by each of our Editorial Committee members on their area of expertise - will provide a comparative, critical analysis of countries' responses to the pandemic, alongside examples of best and worst practices. This can be used by not only academics, but also students, the general public and policymakers as an expert and methodologically sound basis on which to rely when designing solutions to future pandemics. It will be published open-access.
The outputs will thus have three main potential uses by others: i. provide an accurate and in depth historical record and critical analysis of over 60 countries responses to the Covid-19 pandemic; ii. enable further comparative analysis by academics in several distinct areas of expertise; and iii. provide crucial information to be used by policymakers in the future in efforts of pandemic preparedness.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Healthcare,Government, Democracy and Justice,Other

URL https://lexatlas-c19.org/
 
Description Apart from academics, the Compendium and Datasets have been used by policymakers and the general public. As the resource is open-access, it is difficult to assess the exact impact beyond academia, but Oxford University Press' statistics indicate that there is a steady stream of visits to the Oxford Compendium's website. The team and wider network has also received invitations from academic institutions and policymakers (both at the national and international level, such as the EU) to discuss the reports and their findings. For instance, the two Co-Principal Investigators have been invited by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control to discuss the Principles on Mandatory Vaccination in March 2022, and Co-Principal Investigator Jeff King has presented evidence to the PACAC House of Commons Committee in 2021. He has also been contacted by the InterAmerican Commission on Human Rights' Special Rapporteur on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights on the topic of mandatory vaccination. The Lex-Atlas: Covid-19 blog has experienced a steady increase in traffic since the launch in April 2021. We have experienced spikes in activity upon publication of important documents, including the Legal, Ethical and Constitutional Principles on Mandatory Vaccination and the wider publicisation of this document in an article in The Lancet co-authored by the principal investigators and a post-doctorate member of the project.
First Year Of Impact 2021
Sector Healthcare,Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Policy & public services

 
Description Gave evidence to the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC) (Commons Select Committee)
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
 
Description Quotation in Report of the Political and Constitutional Affairs Committee Report, Seventh Report of Session 2021-22, Coronavirus Act 2020 Two Years On, HC 978.
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
Impact My evidence fed into the recommendations of the Committee for how the Coronavirus Act 2020 could be reviewed and how future legislation could be planned.
 
Title Codebook for Lex-Atlas: Covid-19 Data 
Description Codebook for variables in clued in the Lex-Atlas: Covid-19 Emergency Powers and Parliaments datasets. More information can be found at https://lexatlas-c19.org 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2022 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact This codebook allows users and researchers to peruse the variables included in the two already published datasets (emergency powers and parliaments). 
URL https://zenodo.org/record/6363142
 
Title Lex-Atlas: Covid-19 - Author Guidance Code 
Description this is the codebook according to which authors composed the country reports. Editors supervised the compliance with the AGC and it resulted in a set of reports which were comparable for data-mining purposes. 
Type Of Material Data analysis technique 
Year Produced 2021 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact N/A 
URL https://oxcon.ouplaw.com/fileasset/Author%20Guidance%20Code%20OCC19.pdf
 
Title Lex-Atlas:Covid-19 Emergency Powers Dataset 
Description Data on the use of emergency powers used to handle the Covid-19 pandemic mined from country reports published by the Lex-Atlas: Covid-19 project and the Oxford University Press. For more information see https://lexatlas-c19.org 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2022 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact The dataset allows the general public to gain a comparative overview of the use of emergency powers during the pandemic in 38 countries. This open-source dataset will allow researchers to manipulate the data as convenient, to produce graphs and charts or to create their own datasets. 
URL https://zenodo.org/record/6363096
 
Title Lex-Atlas:Covid-19 Parliaments Dataset 
Description Data on the impact on national parliaments resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic mined from country reports published by the Lex-Atlas: Covid-19 project and the Oxford University Press. For more information see https://lexatlas-c19.org 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2022 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact The dataset allows the general public to gain a comparative overview of the use of emergency powers during the pandemic in 38 countries. This open-source dataset will allow researchers to manipulate the data as convenient, to produce graphs and charts or to create their own datasets. 
URL https://zenodo.org/record/6363125
 
Title Quantitative data analysis techniques 
Description Two datasets have been published on emergency powers used during the pandemic and the impact on parliaments of Covid-19. These data contain binary and categorical variables mined from the qualitative reports and links to the specific section of the reports from which piece of information was mined. Logistic and linear regression modelling of the data has been conducted by linking external datasets (e.g. measure of authoritarianism, adherence to rule of law, inequality scores, etc). 
Type Of Material Data analysis technique 
Year Produced 2022 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact The coding of quantitative data from the qualitative reports has allowed for more extensive and analytical cross-country comparison. Regression modelling of the data, alongside external datasets detailing system type and other political and social variables, has shown a relationship between political and legal freedoms and objectively better outcomes (e.g. lower excess deaths, shorter parliamentary closures, less pandemic opportunism, etc). 
URL https://zenodo.org/communities/lexatlas-c19/search?page=1&size=20
 
Description Partnership with the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law 
Organisation Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law
Country Germany 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution The Oxford Compendium of National Legal Responses to Covid-19 is made available open-access by the Faculty of Laws, University College London; the Dickson Poon School of Law, King's College London; and the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law.
Collaborator Contribution The Oxford Compendium of National Legal Responses to Covid-19 is made available open-access by the Faculty of Laws, University College London; the Dickson Poon School of Law, King's College London; and the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law.
Impact Oxford Compendium of National Legal Responses to Covid-19
Start Year 2021
 
Description Interview for UCL Portico Magazine 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact In this article, Jeff King considered ideas of liberty in light of his work mapping legal responses to Covid-19 around the world
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://uclporticomagazine.co.uk/spotlights-and-ideas/jeremy-bentham-speaks-law/
 
Description Lex-Atlas: Covid-19 Blog / Website and Twitter account 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The Lex-Atlas: Covid-19 website was launched to provide a space for blog posts, symposia, datasets and policy briefs, and documents with very specific scopes. Country Rapporteurs have kindly contributed blog posts to the website, providing the readers with legal analyses of court cases or specific public health measures, or more generally with updates regarding the country's situation. It enriches the Compendium because it reflects the authors' views and critical assessment of the situation. In addition to these blog posts, the team has been able to publish symposia, written jointly by Editorial Committee members and the Country Rapporteurs, on specific areas of concerns. Other documents, such as our Legal, Constitutional and Ethical Principles on Mandatory Vaccination have also been published there. Finally, the website currently hosts datasets on chosen topics, alongside graphs, charts and policy briefs, available for the general public to use.
Our Twitter account has also allowed us to further publicise the Lex-Atlas: Covid-19 project and engage with a wider audience.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://lexatlas-c19.org/
 
Description Media Interview on Al Jazeera Newshour about mandatory vaccination in Europe 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact On 11 January 2022, Political Science Research Fellow Andrew Jones was interviewed by Al Jazeera NewsHour to speak about the announcement of mandatory vaccination schemes in Austria, Germany and Italy. He was asked whether they infringed people's rights. He outlined the Lex-Atlas: Covid-19 Principles on Mandatory Vaccination and stated that schemes should be based in primary law which has undergone a proper consultation and that countries are free to develop proportional systems that best suit their citizens.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
 
Description Podcast: Coronavirus: The Whole Story (Jeff King). This was a podcast hosted by the broadcaster Vivienne Parry for UCL Health of the Public, interviewing Jeff King and Meg Russell about the constitutional implications of the UK's response to Covid-19. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This podcast is broadcast nationally and has many listeners (precise numbers unknown).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
URL https://www.ucl.ac.uk/ucl-minds/podcasts/coronavirus/transcript-episode-47