This paper introduces a method called SUmmarisation with Majority Opinion (SUMO) that integrates and extends two prior approaches for abstractively and extractively summarising UK House of Lords cases. We show how combining two previously distinct lines of work allows us to better address the challenges resulting from this court’s unusual tradition of publishing the opinions of multiple judges with no formal statement of the reasoning (if any) agreed by a majority. We do this by applying natural language processing and machine learning, Conditional Random Fields (CRFs), to a data set we created by fusing together expert-annotated sentence labels from the HOLJ corpus of rhetorical role summary relevance with the ASMO corpus of agreement statement and majority opinion. By using CRFs and a bespoke summary generator on our enriched data set, we show a significant quantitative F1-score improvement in rhetorical role and relevance classification of 10–15% over the state-of-the-art SUM system; and we show a significant qualitative improvement in the quality of our summaries, which closely resemble gold-standard multi-judge abstracts according to a proof-of-principle user study.
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