Making the Meaning of Contracts Visible – Automating Contract Visualization
In Erich Schweighofer et al. (Eds.) Transparency. Proceedings of the 17th International Legal Informatics Symposium IRIS 2014.
Österreichische Computer Gesellschaft OCG, Wien 2014, p. 443–450 (ISBN 978-3-85403-302-8)
Jusletter IT, 20 February 2014
8 Pages Posted: 16 Jul 2015
Date Written: February 20, 2014
Today’s contracts are complex and their meaning is not always clear to those who are impacted. What can we do to provide transparency and understandability and to prevent inadvertent non-compliance and negative surprises? In our previous work, we have brought information design, user experience, readability, visualization and natural language processing to bear on exploring the use of non-textual devices in contracts and other legal documents. This paper seeks to make contract/legal rule visualization accessible to a wider audience. As the production of contract/legal visualizations can be a challenge, we propose and demonstrate prototypes of automated tools for such visualizations. In this paper, we experiment with computer-generated visualizations of selected contract clauses. Our early prototypes include common types of term and termination, payment and liquidated damages clauses. These examples provide proof-of-concept demonstration tools that help contract writers present content in a way readers pay attention to and understand. In addition, these tools can help them produce better content through self-audits, as visuals can help detect and clarify ambiguities and unintended interpretation. These results point to the possibility of document assembly engines compiling an entirely new genre of contracts, more user-friendly and transparent for readers and not too challenging to produce for lawyers.
Keywords: Contract Visualization, Legal Design, Software-generated Visualizations, Visualization Tools, Knowledge Visualization
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