In this paper we describe a legal core ontology that is part of the Legal Knowledge Interchange Format: a knowledge representation formalism that enables the translation of legal knowledge bases written in different representation formats and formalisms. A legal (core) ontology can play an important role in the translation of existing legal knowledge bases to other representation formats, in particular as the basis for articulate knowledge serving. This requires that the ontology has a firm grounding in commonsense and is developed in a principled manner. We describe the theory and methodology underlying the LKIF core ontology, compare it with other ontologies, introduce the concepts it defines, and discuss its use in the formalisation of an EU directive.
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