XML standard for the markup of legal sources
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MetaLex is an open format and a generic and extensible framework for the XML and RDF encoding of the structure and contents of legal documents. It aims to be jurisdiction and language-neutral, and is based on modern publishing concepts like XSLT-based transformation pipelines and emerging Semantic Web standards like RDF and OWL.

The problems MetaLex addresses are shared by many e-Government initiatives in the world. Increasing legal convergence between governments in the European Union, and the growing importance of traffic of people, services, goods, and money over borders of jurisdictions has led to an increased interest for foreign legislation. Publication of legislation, and the development of tools for working with legislation, is however very much a jurisdiction-specific enterprise. What is needed is a jurisdiction-independent XML standard that can be used for exchange, but also as a platform for development of manipulation and search tools.

MetaLex was launched in 2002. The MetaLex standard is a product of the E-POWER project, funded by the European Union’s Information Society Technologies (IST) programme, and was initiated by the Leibniz Center for Law of the University of Amsterdam in cooperation with Application Engineers and the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration (DTCA). The Leibniz Center for Law is the current developer.

CEN/ISSS Workshop Activities

MetaLex is used as input to the CEN workshop on an Open XML interchange format for legal and legislative resources. The workshop officially started on July 7 2006. The objective of the Workshop is to develop a CEN Workshop Agreement (CWA) on an Open XML interchange format for legal and legislative resources; The CWA is accepted by the CEN and associated standard organisations as a publicly available specification (PAS or pre-norm).


MetaLex is committed to accepting the new version of the standard that will come out of the workshop. For current MetaLex users this means that a future version of MetaLex might be significantly different from the current one. We will try to make the transition as easy as possible, and we will still publish new versions of the current MetaLex standard. The contents of this website are about the MetaLex schema as it is now. All information relating to the CWA is linked from a subpage of this website.