Principle of  Legal Engineering
by Fiorani Emanuele

The legal technical necessity was born with law, so it is natural that since the earliest times law deals with legal technical matters.

In the antiquity the interest of law in building was already know: the Code of Hammurabi (King of Babylon, 2200 B.C.) imposed heavy sanctions for damage to people or structures. Subsequently English legislature of XV century established legal action against the builder; the Napoleonic code of 1804 established a period of ten-year guarantee for the security of the works.

Haywain - Bosch - 1516

Haywain Triptych: Haywain – Bosch – 1516

Since the antiquity, the justice was interested also in medical matter, but only after 1621 with Paolo Zacchia Archiatra Pontificio, man blessed with an eclectic intelligence, poetry and music writer, and painter, the discipline of Medical law was defined and so it was separated from General Medicine.
Medical science recognized the necessity to create a professional specific figure.

Until the beginning of the XIX century Engineering deals with civil and military building, the automotive era began only later with the Advent of (vapour) machines.
In the 1889 with the advance of the technological era the Lawyer Arturo Lion published with the publishing house Hoepli, the Manuale di ingegneria legale (Legal Engineering handbook) ( for technical and jurists ), where he included all rules and precepts concerning the engineering of that period.

In foreign countries, in particular in the United States, the figure of an Engineer specialized in law matters was recently set up and the title is obtained by a post-university course.
The interdisciplinary specialization requires a systematic and functional development of the subject in order to form an autonomous science.

Principle of legal engineering


Engineering, is not more only a constructive art as it was before but now it is a rightfully science, commonly means the totality of those disciplines which purpose is to study technology.
Some Engineering disciplines have the aim of research, other disciplines have practical applicatory purpose because they are the aim to provide technological systems.
In order to regulate such disciplines there is a collaboration among engineers and public authority for the application and elaboration of rules concerning responsibility.

Principle of legal engineering

Often the Engineer is called to develop the functions of Judge Assistant; considering the more and more frequent complexity of matter treated, questions and procedures such role requires notable professionalism, interdisciplinary and detective capacity.
Therefore, to be a good Engineer doesn’t mean to be a good Judge assistant, in fact, it is important to know how to resolve a technical problem in accordance with law requirements.


The Legal Engineering, as much as the author of the discipline intuited and autor of this paper, is born from the necessity to create a professional figure with Engineering and Jurisprudence competences, who could satisfy the requirements of the justice, in the widest sense of the word: penal, civil, etc.

In fact the role of Judge Assistant requires, due the frequent complexity of the technical matters treated, questions and procedures, notable professionalism and its function could not more be occasional but it must be developed by specialized professional figures.
Sometimes, however, to the professional practice is required special kinds of performance, that is completely without any judicial implication.

Definition of  Legal Engineering

The Legal Engineering provide technical-scientific answers to matter with judicial and penal relevance.

The Legal Engineering indeed studies the relation between events and the laws and it represents the convergence point of  Technicians and Jurists on matters of common interest.
The peculiarity of the legal engineering is not in nature of the facts, but it is in the method used to study or appraise facts in order to define a determinate juridical relationship or to acquire them as evidence based on circumstances of juridical pertinence.

Considering the above mentioned functions, the application field of legal technical knowledge appears double-faced and referring to this doubleness there is a division of the Legal Engineering in:


The Juridical Engineering brings knowledge at theoretical level and they are useful in order to instituting a technical scientific system of legislation, contributing to the formation of new laws and to interpretation of the current ones, so that the juridical rules will be conforms to technical science advances.


The Forensic Engineering uses at practical level the engineering knowledge necessary to resolve the concrete cases of the judicial activity performing an auxiliary irreplaceable function in the administration of the justice. This sector, that provides technical justified opinions by the appraisal and technical advice in criminal and civil matters, is called Forensic Engineering and has an application feature.

While the Legal Engineering is mainly an engineering discipline, it is a whole of technical and legal concepts, accumulated in a united synthesis, whose study is valuable both for the Engineer and for the Lawyer, not only from the practical point of view, but also from the cultural educational one, because can encourage the formation of the “technical and social mentality”, without which this activity will continue to remain unknown for the society in which they live and work.


In Forensics Engineering are identified the causes of an event that have produced damage or injury to things or people.
Such cases are usually due to a misuse of technology or services and / or to an imperfection of production, design or construction.
This activity make also the Legal Engineering as an operating science in the public interest, because it highlights potential vices or lacks ( of planning or of construction ) and prevents the repetition of further damaging or dangerous events. In particular, it deals to reconstruct and investigate on the technical matters arose in buildings, structures, plants, vehicles, and in other engineering systems.
Even if the consequences of a drawback can be both tragic and too expensive, a failure in the engineering often offers us an experimental realistic test that it is rarely possible to get in a laboratory or on a computer simulation.

In such sense the sentence of the judge is not only an action of justice, but also a future prevention so that something of the sort will never more happen.
The process of the investigation provide an opposite procedure to the one of the happening sequence ( reverse engineering ), therefore it is necessary to need know the steps that defined the event, if necessary the manufacturing process of the product that is the object of investigation and its current standard, and also its materials too.
Consequently the object of the Legal Engineering is to provide the theoretical and methodological tools to face the collaboration matters between jurists and engineers under the double technical-juridical and technical-forensic perspective.

Therefore the Legal Engineer must be in possession of very good mastery of the technical-scientific method of investigation, possessing also context knowledge and transversal capacity, that is the capacity to integrate interdisciplinary knowledge.

The Juridical Authority can not leave out of consideration the technical knowledge for a correct application of the law, even because the Juridical Authority is lacking in this; so it is important, in order to acquire this ability, to turn to experts that can not be else but engineers provided with particular and specific preparation. And it is precisely in this note that the bond among law and engineering is concretized, bond that concerning technical sector is connected by such branch of Engineering that is qualified as “legal” and that requires a specific law knowledge.

Therefore the legal engineering is not only Engineering Jurisprudence and even less the art of correctly compiling expert reports, but it is the study of the technology with regard to the law; in fact it must know the law in order to be able to use it and to adapt itself to it.
Its adhesion to the technical-scientific progress provides the essential elements for the further evolution of the law.