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BestPortal: Lessons Learned in Lightweight Semantic Access to Court Proceedings
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BestPortal: Lessons Learned in Lightweight Semantic Access to Court Proceedings


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  • 1. BestPortal: Lessons Learned in Lightweight Semantic Access to Court Proceedings
    Rinke HoekstraAI Department, Vrije Universiteit AmsterdamLeibniz Center for Law, Universiteit van Amsterdam
    JURIX 2009
  • 2. BestPortal
    Netherlands Council of the Judiciary
    50 thousand verdicts
    Alleviate burden of the judiciary
    Improve access to court proceedings
    BEST Project
    “BATNA Establishment using Semantic Web Technology”
    Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement
    Focus: unlawful act (Tort)
    … typical Open Government scenario, no?
    JURIX 2009
  • 3. “It’s the data, stupid!”(Tim O’Reilly)
    Government 2.0
    Paradigm shift
    Public Services
    Open Data
    Wide range of information types
    Business registries, crime statistics, school ratings, etc.
    Pro-active information disclosure
    (user) interface
    browsing, search, RESTful interfaces (endpoints)
    open formats
    unique ids (URIs)
    JURIX 2009
  • 4. … some examples
    W3C eGov Interest Group,
    Microsoft Open Government Data Initiative

    But… is `just the data’ good enough?
    JURIX 2009
  • 5. Open Up!
    Make court proceedings publicly available
    But: Full text search is not enough
    Lawyers have their own language:
    Bridge the gap between common sense and legal knowledge
    JURIX 2009
    “A woman was kicked by a horse at a riding school.”
  • 6. Adding Semantics
    Semantic annotation
    Direct publication as RDF
    Embedded RDFa
    Connect to other datasources
    CEN MetaLex, ( in RDF)
    But…these still do not bridge the gap
    JURIX 2009
  • 7. E-Government Services
    Pre-structured, shallow, narrow domain, no user input
    Legal Services Counter (van Engers et al.,2004)
    Knowledge Intensive
    Given a ‘commonsense’ description of a case,
    … provide the legal qualification
    HARNESS (van de Ven et al., 2008)
    Initial approach of BEST (van Laarschot et al., 2005)
    JURIX 2009
  • 8. Best Horseshoe in 2005
    JURIX 2009
    Case is inferred to be of some type of liability(articles 6:163-6:197 BW)
  • 9. Problems
    Lightweight is inflexible
    Knowledge intensive is too expensive
    Requires complete and coherent case descriptions
    Significant modelling effort
    Maintenance costs (… especially in case law)
    Quality assurance
    Legal theoretical commitment
    Translations have the form of definitions
    But… can I use it to retrieve relevant cases?
    JURIX 2009
  • 10. Search (some statistics)
    Type of liability, represented as
    an article in the Civil Code
    a set of prototypical cases (selected by expert)
    a set of relevant concepts
    Vector of weighted phrases
    Measuring precision (Uijttenbroek et al., 2008)
    JURIX 2009
  • 11. So, what next?
    The legal qualification of a case is:
    Too expensive
    Theoretical over-commitment
    Not necessarily useful for search (!)
    But then… how should the gap be bridged?
    JURIX 2009
  • 12. Annotation Perspective
    Given an annotation task:
    A layman will describe the facts
    A legal professional will describe the qualification
    JURIX 2009
    Mappings should hold between descriptions of court proceedings, not concepts.
  • 13. The BestPortal Solution
    Translate layman description to legal concepts
    Search using fingerprints of legal concepts
    Context in which layman concepts co-occur in a case determines the applicability of a legal concept
    • A mapping is not the definition of a concept
    • 14. A mapping is inferred given the overlap between cases that may be described using concepts
    • 15. Mappings classify both published and hypothetical case descriptions
    JURIX 2009
  • 16. Vocabulary
    No definitions? No ontology…
    Simple Knowledge Organization System
    Lifting existing KOS’s to the Semantic Web
    Every skos:Concept is an OWL individual
    Lightweight semantic relations: broader, narrower, and related.
    Lightweight mapping relations between skos:ConceptSchemes.
    JURIX 2009
  • 17. Mapping in SKOS
    JURIX 2009
  • 18. BestMap
    Limitations of SKOS
    No many-to-many mappings
    Implicit assumption of extensionality
    Concepts are used to annotate resources
    BestMap Ontology
    Extend SKOS with annotation-properties
    A mapping is an OWL 2 class description
    JURIX 2009
  • 19. Connecting to SKOS (3)
    JURIX 2009
  • 20. BestMap Mappings
    A mapping class:
    Classifies resources annotated using one vocabulary, and
    Infers annotations using the other vocabulary
    … it may be directed
    JURIX 2009
  • 21. Example
    JURIX 2009
  • 22. JURIX 2009
  • 23. … but now the mappings
    The Good Ol’ Knowledge Acquisition Bottleneck
    BestMap provides little structure
    “Riding School” as building, owner, buyer of fodder, etc.
    … need for typed relations
    Focus on the Unlawful Act
    Case Frames (a.o. Winkels et al., 1998)
    Thematic Roles as typed relations
    JURIX 2009
  • 24. Example
    JURIX 2009
  • 25. Discussion
    Open Data and Knowledge Intensive approaches are limited
    Lightweight but flexible approach
    KA bottleneck still exists, but
    Minimal theoretical commitment
    Useful for other expertise domains (e.g. medical information)
    Use of standard technology (performance)
    Do the mappings actually work?
    Does BestPortal really improve access to court proceedings?
    Justification of search results
    Publish court proceedings as linked open data
    e.g. connect to GeoNames
    JURIX 2009
  • 26. JURIX 2009