Ontologies in the Legal Domain
Since the emergence of the Semantic Web building ontologies have become quite popular and almost every conference on information science including artificial intelligence and e- Government have tracks that cover (legal) ontologies. Ontologies are the vocabularies that can be used to describe a universe of discourse. In this chapter we want to explain the roles (legal) ontologies play in the field of legal information systems and (juridical) knowledge management. We emphasize the fact that these ontologies are social constructs that can be used to express shared meaning within a community of practice and also have a normative character. Many different ontologies have been created for similar and different purposes and two of them, both core ontologies of law that specify knowledge that is common to all domains of law, will be explained in more detail. The first one, is a Functional Ontology for Law (FOLaw). This ontology describes and explains dependencies between types of knowledge in legal reasoning. FOLaw is rather an epistemological framework than an ontology, since it is concerned with the roles knowledge plays in legal reasoning rather than with legal knowledge itself. Nevertheless FOLaw has shown some practical value in various applied European ICT projects, but its reuse is rather limited. We will also explain some aspects of the LRI-Core ontology which captures the main concepts in legal information processing. LRI-Core is particularly inspired by research on abstract commonsense concepts. Legal knowledge is based upon these commonsense concepts. Since legal knowledge always refers to the ‘real world’, although in abstract terms, the main categories of LRI-Core are physical, mental and abstract concepts. Roles cover in particular social worlds. Another special category is occurrences; terms that denote events and situations. In this chapter we illustrate the use of LRI-Core with an ontology for Dutch criminal law, developed in the e- Court European project and an ontology for Dutch administrative law developed in a project for the Dutch State Council.
KeywordsKnowledge Management Legal Reasoning Legal Knowledge Legal Information Legal Domain
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