Understanding the Law: Improving Legal Knowledge Dissemination by Translating the Contents of Formal Sources of Law
28 Pages Posted: 12 Aug 2010
Date Written: January 20, 2009
Considerable attention has been given to the accessibility of legal documents, such as legislation and case law, both in legal information retrieval (query formulation, search algorithms), in legal information dissemination practice (numerous examples of on-line access to formal sources of law), and in legal knowledge-based systems (by translating the contents of those documents to ready-to-use rule and case-based systems). However, within AI & law, it has hardly ever been tried to make the contents of sources of law, and the relations among them, more accessible to those without a legal education. This article presents a theory about translating sources of law into information accessible to persons without a legal education. It illustrates the theory by providing two elaborated examples of such translation ventures. In the first example, formal sources of law in the domain of exchanging police information are translated into rules of thumb useful for policemen. In the second example, the goal of providing non-legal professionals with insight into legislative procedures is translated into a framework for making available sources of law through an integrated legislative calendar. Although the theory itself does not support automating the several stages described, in this article some hints are given as to what such automation would have to look like.
Keywords: Accessibility of Legal Information, Understandability of Legal Information, Artificial Intelligence and the Law, Definitions
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