The Lex-Atlas: Covid-19 (LAC19) project provides a scholarly report and analysis of national legal responses to Covid-19 around the world. There are nearly 200 jurists participating in the LAC19 network and who have contributed to writing national country reports. The Oxford Compendium of National Legal Responses to Covid-19 launched on 26 April 2021 with 19 Country and Territory Reports and a further 41 are currently being added on a rolling basis. It is made open-access on a permanent basis through the generous support of the Faculty of Laws, University College London, the Dickson Poon School of Law, King's College London, and the Max Planck Institute of Comparative Public Law and International Law in Heidelberg, Germany. The LAC19 project is supported more widely by the UK's Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Leverhulme Trust.
What is the overall goal of the LAC19 project?
The project is motivated by the need for an integrated overview of national legal responses to Covid-19, focusing on the legal response to the pandemic with attention to its socio-political context. National responses have varied considerably. Epidemiological performance is but one measure, and a difficult one to judge when transparency is doubtful. Countries have employed emergency powers differently, but understanding them requires attention to the broader constitutional structure in which they are situated. Most countries had various forms of institutional disruption, variable social policy coverage, and different responses to the human rights needs of vulnerable groups. The aim of the Compendium is to aim for a neutral account of the principal developments, with references to further reading. It is hoped this will assist policy makers in future pandemic preparedness, to fashion ongoing responses to Covid-19, and to assist scholars and historians to come to evaluative judgments of state responses to Covid-19.
What is the Oxford Compendium of National Legal Responses to Covid-19?
The Compendium is composed of reports by country teams, headed by one or more Country or Territory Rapporteurs, who coordinate the production and updating of the relevant Country Reports. The reports are written by reference to a comprehensive Author Guidance Code (AGC). The AGC covers five topics:
II. Applicable Legal Framework
III. Institutions and Oversight
IV. Public Health Measures, Enforcement and Compliance
V. Social and Employment Protection Measures
VI. Human Rights of Vulnerable Groups
The first 19 reports (Phase 1) covering Parts I-IV of these categories launched on 26 April 2021. The second and third sets of reports (Phases 2 and 3) are currently being published along with the remaining Parts V-VI.
The reports are all structured identically to allow researchers to compare cross-national treatment of particular issues. A 14-person Editorial Committee gives close feedback, with careful attention to the AGC framework. The results are published on the Compendium website, however at times draft reports may be published on this website in advance of publication by OUP. The Compendium is ultimately an advanced reader's introduction to the situation prevailing in each country, not a fully comprehensive of all measures at any given point in time. The Compendium takes account of the broader institutional and political context, litigation, and where possible refers to commentary and public reports and inquiries.
The Website is an essential companion to the Compendium. Each country or territory (e.g. Hong Kong SAR) has its own web page and from time to time publishes updates on the situation in the country or territory. Blog entries on the website do not, however, observe a neutral tone and may be critical of the author's own and other countries. Notably, the teams for each country or territory may be contacted through their respective pages. We ask that only researchers and policy-makers do so.
What about comparative analysis of best and worst practices?
The Compendium was a necessary exercise in gathering a reasonably neutral account of practices. Both the Editorial Committee and the broader LAC19 network are committed to providing an evaluative analysis of both national and cross-national trends. This will occur in the following ways.
First, comparative data is being assembled in three forms detailed elsewhere on this website.
Second, the project runs a series of LAC19 Insights and LAC19 Blog Symposia on comparative legal topics. Insights are moderately in-depth scholarly analyses of common themes, not exceeding 5,000 words, led or co-led by an Editorial Committee member but written collaboratively with members of the network. The Insights aim to identify policy insights emerging from country practices and benefit from LAC19 Data. Symposia reflect wide-ranging contributions on a topic of particular concern, sometimes accompanied by a digest of LAC19 data.
Third, the Editorial Committee is preparing Reports and ultimately a Final Report on the themes covered by the Area Editors: parliaments, executive powers, comparative health law, social policy, labour policy, inequality and human rights, gender, privacy, and migration. The Final Report will be published open-access by Oxford University Press some time late in 2022, following two workshops on their contents held in November 2021 and May 2022.
The project is done in a spirit of collegial collaboration towards improving the global understanding of legal responses to Covid-19. We welcome peer review in any form and if any reader wishes to assist the project by serving as a peer reviewer for a country, or detects an error in a report or blog, please let us know and we will fix it.