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Ontologies for European Laws in Executable format

Final Activity Report Summary - ONE-LEX (Ontologies for European laws in executable format)

ONE-LEX has intended to provide principled support to the informational-unification of the laws of Europe, that is, to facilitate access, integration and reuse of legal information pertaining to the member States, to the European Union and to other States or international organisations. In particular, the project has focused on shared or interoperable standards for legal information, in order to enable its access, communication, processing, and integration through Internet-based technologies, in the framework of the emerging semantic web.

Standards have been studied concerning different aspects of legal information:
a) ways of structuring legal documents and data, so that they can be made available over the Internet, their elements can be automatically identified and processed, legal information pertaining to different sources and States can be queried from single access-points;
b) ways of dealing with changes in the law, so that textual modifications can be clearly identified, the current content of legal texts can be automatically constructed, the applicable law can be more easily determined;
c) ways of defining and applying conceptual classifications to law texts so that, possibly according to appropriate mappings and translations, legal conceptualisations can be applied in understanding and retrieving laws of different countries;
d) ways of building rich executable representations of legal knowledge, which can capture the essential components of legal knowledge, can be transferred from one computer platform to the other, can provide the basis of knowledge-based systems supporting the application of laws of different countries.

The published outputs of the project include the following peer reviewed publications: 10 journal articles, 7 chapters in books, 1 monograph, 2 edited volumes, 12 papers in conference proceedings. Moreover they include 4 additional edited books and 25 working papers.

The project has studied how standard-based document-management can support all phases of the legislative process: drafting proposals, debating them inside and outside Parliaments, dealing with amendment, managing changes in the law, distributing, retrieving and applying legislation. ONE-LEX has provided principled inputs, based on legal-theory as well on computing, logic and knowledge representation-on how to represent metadata and contents in computable form-to national and transnational initiatives concerning standards for legal information (such as the Metalex-CEN interchange standard or the Akoma-Ntoso Panafrican legislative standard) and legislative drafting.

It has also developed novel analyses and formal-computable representations for various aspects of the law, such as deontic notions rights, powers and other normative positions, metanorms, presumptions and burden of proof. It has achieved progresses in the logical modelling of important aspects of legal reasoning, such as defeasibility, legal validity, presumptive reasoning and balancing rights and values. It has developed a framework for studying the connection between legal norms and legal concepts, by relating the logic of norms and legal ontologies. It has provided a new framework for the study of argumentation strategies, based on game theory, applying it also to the evolutionary analysis of attitudes in the legal professions.

Finally, ONE-LEX has developed an intensive teaching program in legal-informatics and ICT law involving a number of initiatives: seminars, workshops, conferences, and a summer school specifically devoted to legislative standards, which been attended by about 100 students from 5 continents.