Computational Legalism and the Affordance of Delay in Law

L Diver, (2020) ‘Computational Legalism and the Affordance of Delay in Law’ 1(1) Journal of Cross-disciplinary Research in Computational Law. Available at


Delay is a central element of law-as-we-know-it: the ability to interpret legal norms and contest their requirements is contingent on the temporal spaces that text affords citizens. As computational systems are further introduced into legal practice and application, these spaces are threatened with collapse, as the immediacy of ‘computational legalism’ dispenses with the natural ‘slowness’ of text. In order to preserve the nature of legal protection, we need to be clear about where in the legal process such delays play a normative role and to ensure that they are reflected in the affordances of the computational systems that are so introduced. This entails a focus on the design and production of such systems, and the resistance of the ideology of ‘efficiency’ that pervades contemporary development practices.

The article is replied to by Ewa Luger, Chancellor’s Fellow, University of Edinburgh.