This collection of articles about legal ontologies and Semantic Web applications has its roots in workshops and conferences on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Law, most notably, the workshops on ontologies and Semantic Web technology in the legal domain, held in June 2007 at Stanford University. The domain of law belongs to the early adopters of ontologies and semantic web technology to support its enormous and fast growing demand for effective information management; it is probably only surpassed in this respect by the bio-sciences. Having easily access to relevant legal information among the rising flood of legal documentation is not only the concern of legal practitioners, but also the life and work of citizens becomes more and more entangled with legal issues.
A first monograph on legal ontologies was published as early as 1995, also as a volume of this FAIA series by IOS Press [Valente, 1995]. The first workshop on legal ontologies was held in 1997, as part of the biannual conference on AI & Law (ICAIL-1997). This volume reflects the wisdom, abstracted from experiences accumulated over more than a decade of research and development in this area. It contains a representative overview of the state of the art, covering both theoretical aspects and practical systems. The latter has been an important driver of research in this area, which can be observed from the geographical origins: the work discussed is mainly European, due to R & D initiatives of the European Commission in the various Framework programs. Also national initiatives have played an important role as can be concluded from the overrepresentation of articles from Spain and Italy. As the practical needs for legal information management are certainly not more pressing in these countries than in other countries, we hope that this book will also serve as an argument for (further) investments in this endeavor. The Semantic Web is not only an area of research, but also a world wide project where easy to construct applications can directly find their communities of users. However the semantics that are the engines for these applications are still the bottleneck in the development. Therefore one finds in this volume a large range of technologies and tricks to populate ontologies with machine understandable meaning of terms. This varies from the use of top-ontologies via design patterns to extraction of terms from text and alignment of existing terminologies. In fact, one may see this book not so much as the report of results of research, but rather as a specification of the elements of an emerging methodology for developing legal ontologies.
Barcelona, October 2008, the Editors
We would like to thank the following reviewers for this book:
Alexander Boer, Leibniz Center for Law, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Bert Bredeweg, HCSL University of Amsterdam Netherlands
Tom van Engers, Leibniz Center for Law, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Jérôme Euzenat, INRIA Grenoble Rhône-Alpes, France
Tom Gordon, FOKUS Fraunhofer Institute, Berlin, Germany
Carole Hafner, Northwestern University, Chicago, USA
Rinke Hoekstra, Leibniz Center for Law, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Laura Hollink, Department of Computer Science, VU University Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Laurens Mommers, Faculty of Law, Leiden University, the Netherlands
Paulo Quaresma, Universidade de Évora, Portugal
Marta Sabou, Knowledge Media Institute, the Open University, UK
Giovanni Sartor, Faculty of Law, Università di Bologna, Italy
Marco Schorlemmer, Artificial Intelligence Research Institute, CSIC, Barcelona, Spain
Ronny Siebes, Department of Computer Science, VU University Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Elisabeth Uijttenbroek, Faculty of Law, VU University Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Denny Vrandecic, AIFB, Universität Karlsruhe, Germany
Matthew West, Shell / University of Leeds, UK
Radboud Winkels, Leibniz Center for Law, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Adam Wyner, The University of Liverpool, UK
[Valente, 1995] Valente, A. (1995). Legal knowledge engineering: A modelling approach. IOS Press, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.