Access to accurate legal information is of great importance. Certainty of the law, creating the conditions necessary to equality and fairness in a legal system and improving the functioning of democratic institutions, depends upon it. Citizens have a right to information about the laws which govern their conduct and governments have an obligation to enable access to the law by means of all available and practicable tools. This book presents papers delivered at the workshop ‘From Information to Knowledge - Online Access to Legal Information’, held in Florence, Italy, in May 2011. This workshop brought together experts and research groups with international experience and expertise in realizing effective access to online legal information. The book explores theories, methodologies and experiences which focus on enabling access to legal information via the Internet. The first section presents contributions which address the issue from a modeling and theoretical point of view, while the second part deals with initiatives and projects which enable access to legal information from different approaches, and by the implementation of various methodologies and tools. This book will be of interest to all those involved with the dissemination of legal information and the exercise of the rights of citizenship of EU citizens.
As Director of the Institute of Legal Information Theory and Techniques (ITTIG), I am honored to introduce this volume collecting contributions to the Workshop “From Information to Knowledge, Online Access to Legal Information”, held in Florence in May 2011 within the “Festival d'Europa” initiative.
Topics of this Volume are centered upon the dissemination of legal information which contributes to the rule of law and to the overall ideals of democracy.
ITTIG has been playing, since its establishment (1968), a fundamental role in studying and developing tools for enhancing the interaction between ICTs and Law, meaning the application of ICTs to the legal domain as well as to public administration procedures.
This is the first reason why our institute is involved in the discussion of such topics at national, European and international level.
A second reason is the presence in our Institute of a group of young researchers which, in the last ten years, have devoted their research activity to these issues.
Accessing legal information produces a lot of benefits, such as certainty of the law, the creation of conditions necessary to the equality and fairness of a legal system, while improving the functioning of democratic institutions. Ignorance of the law excuses no one, and citizens have the right to know the laws governing their conduct. Everyone has the means to gain knowledge of the law, and governments have an obligation to put forth legal knowledge by enabling access to the law using all available and reasonable tools.
The rapid explosion of electronic information on the Internet is an unquestionable reality, as well as its enormous impact on research, business and every social activity. However this electronic transformation has its drawbacks; in fact navigating through such an amount of information sources, often unstructured, may make people waste their time and miss their expectations.
Nowadays legal research is facing a serious problem: the abundance of electronic legal information makes it very difficult to organize such resources in a way that they can be consulted with confidence, checked and cited as valuable sources. There is a gap between collecting ‘documents’ and achieving ‘information’.
Within this context, editors of this Volume succeed in bringing together on the same table theories, methodologies and experiences focusing on the realization of tools allowing access to European legal information via the Internet (conceived as legal information of the European Union as well as of the EU countries) and on the relevance that this implies in relation with the exercise of the rights of citizenship of EU citizens.
This paper analyses implications of realizing the access to legislation in the semantic web. It provides an overview of the context of the digitalization of legislative information and its distribution on the semantic web and the managements of legislative documents outlining new needs, features and trends in accessing legislative information. The role reserved to specific tools such as standards and mark-up languages is also outlined together with the fundamental role played till now buy ICTs focusing on advantages and inputs deriving from their implementation into legislative, social and governance contexts.
An overview of current scenario going on at EU level in the EUR-Lex portal anticipating future trends and directions of this relevant official information source is given by this contribution. The current status of the EU portal is briefly outlined. All changes and adjustments implemented in the new EUR-Lex system are analyzed focusing the attention on the user-friendliness, accessing options, searching functionalities, personalization, interaction of other websites and users. The new EUR-Lex will go live in 2012; its transformation into a unique juridical portal containing all steps of the legislative procedure and the jurisprudence and providing access to national legislation will consistently enhance the role of EUR-Lex as a fundamental tool for stakeholders for deeply getting in touch with everyday EU institutions activities and results.
Legislation on the web gives rise to a unique set of challenges. The content is of a formal nature with strict rules governing its structure and typographic layout. One piece of legislation can change others, often in complex ways. The text may or may not be in force and may or may not extend to a particular jurisdiction. Yet many users of legislation online, especially those not legally trained or qualified, will assume that legislation is both current and in force simply because it is on the web and available from an official source. This paper sets out the approaches, strategies and technologies that address these challenges for legislation.gov.uk, the UK's official legislation website developed by The National Archives.
This paper outlines the approach set down by the EU law with respect to the access to legal documentation also taking in due consideration the EU Court of Justice perspective. Specifically the author starts from the analysis of the effective existence of the right of access in the Italian legal system. Then the scope of the right of access to the documents of the European institutions is analyzed in order to understand whether this model can be invoked to overcome some restrictions that still characterize the right of access in the Italian legal system.
Right of access to documents is an integral part of the legal framework seeking to ensure democracy and transparency of the EU decision-making process. The paper discusses the evolution of this right in the European legal order focusing on the EU institutions activities dealing with three essential aspects: the gradual ‘constitutionalization’ of a fundamental right of access to information for citizens, the extension of this right beyond EU citizens to “any natural or legal person residing or having its registered office in a Member State” and finally the movement towards a position of facilitating such access to information via digital means.
Guido Boella, Llio Humphreys, Andrea Violato, Piercarlo Rossi, Leendert Van Der Torre
55 - 68
The idea of making the law concrete, principled and accessible to citizens has a long and distinguished history. With the growth of the Internet, laws can now be easily accessed by most citizens, but is the law truly accessible? Or is there a ‘crisis of the law’ as citizens and organizations try to make sense of the increasing number of legislation coming from European, national and regional governments? This paper argues that as the law gets more complex, conflicting, and ever-changing, more advanced tools to make the law truly accessible are needed. The paper presents Eunomos, an integrated Knowledge Management System that enables customers to find and understand the law in their domain of interest. Eunomos has generated much interest in the financial sector. The paper discusses how Eunomos is also suitable for public organizations and citizens, particularly in view of the challenges and opportunities presented by Web 3.0 and the Internet of things.
Lex Dania is the XML-based system used to transfer documents between the Danish Parliament and Government and to promulgate those documents. The base is the Lex Dania XML schemas, the Lex Dania Editor and the Lex Dania Client. This tools are briefly presented by this paper that mentions also future works to be done for getting the Editor to cover all 56 document types promulgated in the official journals of the Parliament and the Government and for designing a system which can do consolidation of bills and amendments.
The paper presents the COGITO system, an automated classification system realized for the Library of the Italian Chamber of Deputies compliant with the EuroVoc thesaurus. COGITO supports the cataloguing and classification of parliamentary and legislative documents; each document is analyzed and interpreted in order to then be archived quickly in the corresponding category, after a validation by a human operator. The history of this categorization project is briefly reported together with the analysis of both TESEO and EuroVoc thesauri. The semantic technology utilized in the automatic classification is largely explained with a specific focus on the semantic possibility of disambiguation.
The paper presents the technical and legal issues that an electronic legal search services has to face while dealing with the problem of missing, unreliable or quasi-official legal data. Technically the problem requires the sifting of acquired legal texts in terms of importance and reliability, and coming up with user friendly matrices and expressions to present information to the researcher that conveys texts with their accompanying degrees of ambiguities, their varying reliability and their connections to other texts in the “corpus.” Ultimately the aim is to formulate and delineate (for the user) the limits of reliability of any given legal electronic information. Moreover the initiatives carried on by the authors' on line legal service (Kanunum) to make more legal texts available electronically in Turkey from the official hand that produced these texts and actions are presented.
This paper sets the attention on the recent initiative of the EU Council of Ministers inviting the introduction of the European Case law identifier (ECLI) and a minimum set of uniform metadata for case law, as an indispensable asset for legal information retrieval. After considering public access to case law in general, the paper discusses the need for a European system for the identification of judicial decisions and the rationale behind the basic components of the chosen solution. Features, benefits and future applications of ECLI are outlined together with the need for national implementation of such standard.
Giovanni Damele, Mario Dogliani, Antonio Mastropaolo, Francesco Pallante, Daniele P. Radicioni
105 - 118
In this paper a project for the investigation of the argumentative techniques adopted in the judgments of the Italian Constitutional Court is presented. The paper provides a taxonomy of the argumentation techniques, it introduces the representation of judgments and outlines the system to annotate judgments with arguments and to query the annotated corpus.
Knowledge reuse has been highlighted as a major asset in the development of semantic resources (ontologies, thesauri, terminologies, knowledge bases) and semantically enriched datasets, namely annotated corpora. Reusing available resources reduces indeed production costs and enables to test the validity of models in different applicative contexts. However, sharing and reusing existing resources is sometimes hindered by intellectual property limitations and uncertainties, as well as by privacy concerns depending on the nature of the data. This paper analyses these issues in the framework of the LEGILOCAL project, which aims at enhancing citizen access to local regulations through semantic technologies.
Starting from 2000 a group of organizations became known collectively as “legal information institutes” or “LIIs” have actively worked at promoting the publication of legal information from more than one source (not just “their own” information) for free access via the Internet, in an effort to mutually collaborate both politically and technically. At European level few government-operated portals provide multi-jurisdictional access to legal information. As a consequence, the need is growing for an integrated and distributed platform for accessing EU Member States and European institutions' legal content. The paper presents a new initiative called “EuroLII”, as an umbrella project capable to give comprehensive free access to legal information in Europe, by providing a single search facility for databases hosted in European legal information institutes.
The logic of Open Access (OA) is gradually spreading within the scientific community, mainly thanks to the help of important areas of public libraries. OA basically describes a phenomenon in which many scientific communities publish their results (papers, articles, books, etc.), through Internet, on archives and journals accessible to anyone (and without payment of a price). Despite the initial delay, the OA movement is quickly growing in importance for legal scholarship. Nonetheless, the institutional arrangements and the technological features of OA to legal scholarship are variegated and pose a vast array of problems. This paper analyzes the state of the art of the different types of Open Archives used by the legal scholars and identifies the key features of a possible, future open repository dedicated to the Italian legal literature.
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