This tutorial covers this new branch of metrology from the perspective of law professionals. Its aim is to show how the correct expression of measurement results, together with their uncertainty, can help the trier of fact to issue its sentence, especially when the solution of the case involves exclusively (or almost exclusively) technical or scientific issues.
A brief survey of the elementary background of the two most widespread law systems – common law and civil law – is given, to analyze similarities and differences and show when and how experimental tests can be requested by investigators and judges to help reconstructing a criminal event.
A brief survey is also given of the uncertainty concept and how uncertainty should be presented and used when a measurement result is employed to assess whether a given threshold has been exceeded or not.
The responsibility of the professional who performs the tests is hence covered, to show how an incorrect or incomplete presentation of the test results might not correctly represent facts to the trier of fact. It is explained why the correct interpretation of measurement activities and results plays an important role in trials, both in common and civil law systems. In fact, despite these two systems are deeply different under most respects, they both follow the universally recognized principle of ne bis in idem. This means that nobody can be prosecuted for the same criminal conduct for more than once. The consequences, ethical, social and economical, and not only legal, of an incorrect interpretation of the measurement results can be hence easily understood, since a crime may remain unpunished.
Veronica Scotti ([email protected]) is a lawyer in Milan, Italy. She received her degree in law from the Catholic University of Piacenza, Piacenza, Italy, in 2000, and she has been a registered lawyer in Milan since 2003. From 2001 to 2006, she cooperated with Politecnico di Milano in the field of quality control system and environmental regulations. Since 2007, she has been a contract professor of Legal implication of the engineer – professional liability at Politecnico di Milano. Her practice focuses on commercial contracts, energy provision contracts, constructions and engineering, environment, quality insurance, which are managed both in the extrajudicial way, and in proceedings.
Due to her long collaboration with an engineering faculty, she has built a solid background on legal-technical issues that is extremely useful in handling disputes involving complex technical problems. Her research interests are related to the analysis of the relationship between measurement activities and metrology and the regulation field, with particular concern to the legal implications of an incorrect specification of measurement uncertainty. The results of her research activity have been published in more than 30 papers in journals and conference proceedings, also aimed at disseminating knowledge about potential legal issued implied in technical activities. Since 2010, she has been responsible for a column on legal metrology on the magazine published by the Italian Association on Electrical and Electronic Measurements (GMEE). Since 2014 she has been responsible for a column on legal issues measurements and legal metrology on the IEEE Instrumentation & Measurement Magazine.
Alessandro Ferrero (M’88–SM’96–F’99) was born in Milan, Italy, in 1954. He received the M.Sc. degree in electrical engineering from Politecnico di Milano in 1978. In 1983, he joined the Dipartimento di Elettrotecnica, Politecnico di Milano, as an Assistant Professor of electrical measurements. From 1987 to 1991, he was with the University of Catania, Catania, Italy, as an Associate Professor of measurements on electrical machines and plants. From 1991 to 1994, he was with the Dipartimento di Elettrotecnica, Politecnico di Milano, as an Associate Professor of electrical measurements. He is presently a Full Professor of electrical and electronic measurements at the Dipartimento di Elettronica, Informazione e Bioingegneria at Politecnico di Milano.
His current research interests include uncertainty evaluation, the application of digital methods to electrical measurements and measurements on electric power systems under nonsinusoidal conditions.
Prof. Ferrero is a member of the Italian Association of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, the Italian Association for Industrial Automation and the Italian Association for Electrical and Electronic Measurement, that he has chaired for the three-year term 2004–2007. He has been the President of the IEEE Instrumentation and Measurements Society for the 2008 – 2009 term. He is the recipient of the 2006 Joseph F. Keithley IEEE Field Award for Instrumentation and Measurement. Since 2011 he has been Foreign Member of the Class of Technical Sciences of the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts. He has been the Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE Transactions on Instrumentation and Measurement from 2012 to 2016. In 2014 he was awarded the Doctor Honoris Causa degree by the Polytechnic University of Bucharest, Romania.