Artificial Intelligence and Law 30 (1):117-145 (2022)

This paper aims to contribute to the goal of finding influential legal precedents by quantitative methods. A lot of work has been made in this direction worldwide, especially in the context of common law jurisdictions. However, this type of work is extremely scarce in the Brazilian literature. In addition, our work also contributes to the research of network analysis and the law by applying these methods to unprecedented amount of data and narrowing our inquiry to a single law area, corporate law. Furthermore, whereas most of the literature applying network analysis to judicial decisions had access to readily available data on the citations to precedent within each ruling, our raw data was nothing but the full text of decisions. We focus on data produced by the Superior Court of Justice, the highest court in Brazil for matters of federal law, including statutory interpretation of civil, criminal and corporate law. The Court issued an astonishing 282040 opinions tagged as related to corporate law between 2008 and 2018. This amount of cases is unparalleled internationally for superior courts and for studies in network analysis and law. In our results, we rank precedents quantitatively based on the citations they receive and make. We also qualitatively analyze some of the results, especially related to groups identified in the network with the Modularity algorithm. Our findings also reveal that corporate law jurisprudence in the STJ is quantitatively dominated by a few legal issues around one single theme that is only tangentially related to corporate law. That is, a type of contract used for the expansion of telephone landlines, which also allowed the consumer to become a shareholder of the telecommunication company. This comparison is especially pertinent because the utter lack of data on the quantitative weight of STJ precedents means the national literature has been operating in a void of objective measurements, one which has been filled with cherry-picked rulings and subjective ranking criteria.
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DOI 10.1007/s10506-021-09290-8
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