Beyond Legal XML

draughtplumpInternet and Web Development

Oct 22, 2013 (3 years and 5 months ago)


Beyond Legal XML

Günther Schefbeck

4th Workshop „Legislative XML“

Klagenfurt, 18 November 2005

Legal/Legislative XML

Legal XML: using XML within the
framework of the legal system

Legislative XML: using XML within the
framework of the legislative system

Legal/Legislative system

Legal system: totality of norms
valid/applicable within a given scope

Kelsen: legal system = state

Legislative system: totality of
norms/conventions relevant to the
production of norms

Legislative system < political system

Society and its subsystems

Procedural rules


Laws as the product of legislation?

Young stage within the evolution of law!

Maine (1861): Six stages of the evolution of
law, from habit to legislation as an explicit
declaration of intention incorporated in a
legal enactment

Overlapping stages!

Legislative Processes

Complex and multi

Highly formalized legal procedure

(going back to 19th century)


Informal political decision
making process
structured or negotiation process)

Interaction of political and legal layers

The value of legislative processes

“A business process is a collection of
activities that takes one or more kinds of
inputs and creates an output that is of value
to the customer” (Hammer & Champy)

What is the value of a law?

The value of laws

Individual law: quality of content

Rule of law: quality of justice

(Aristotle: “Under the rule of law the
chances for justice are better than under the
rule of men”)

Law produced in a democratic process:
quality of legitimation

(Luhmann: “legitimization by procedure”)

Rule of law in a democratic

Knowledge of laws as a prerequisite for
acceptance of laws and law enforcement

Transparency of the legislative process as a
prerequisite for the acceptance of this
process and its output

Crucial function of publicity of laws and
legislative processes

Laws/Legal knowledge

Rule based reasoning vs. case based reasoning

Kelsen: Distinction between „Sein“ („is“,
description) and „Sollen“ („ought“, prescription)

Logical connection: condition

prescribed effect

Holmes: „The life of the law has not been logic: it
has been experience.“

Problem of interpretation: (unconsciously)
experience based


Basis: data

Structured data: information

Contextualized information: knowledge

sensitiveness: a particular set of
characters may be data, information or
knowledge, depending on the observer

Legal information/knowledge

How to contextualize legal information?

Classic way: human brain (lawyer‘s brain)

Innovative way: inference engine

Artificial intelligence vs. semantic web!

AI/Semantic web

Lee (1998): „The concept of
understandable documents does
not imply some magical artificial
intelligence which allows machines to
understand human mumblings. It only
indicates a machine‘s ability to solve a well
defined problem by performing well
defined operations on existing well

AI solutions

Induction systems (transforming cases into

Case based reasoning systems (identifying
precedences and analogies)

Neural networks (imitating biological
neural systems, e.g. for infering legal effects
or for retrieving legal documents)

Semantic web solution

Using metadata for describing data in a way
enabling machines to turn these data into

Data model: RDF (compatible with, but beyond

Description triple: resource



RDFS allows forming classes of resources and
describing relations between them (hierarchies):
precondition for work of inference engines

Semantic web/Ontologies

Ontology: systematic model of a particular field of
knowledge, based on the data described in the
semantic web

OWL: detailed description of the relations
between classes of resources and their properties

Features: cardinalities of properties, logical
relations of resources and property values,
equivalences of resources, classes of resources and

The IT impact on legal

Legal informatics as a counterweight to
balance the increasing number of norms and
speed of legislation (Schmitt: „motorized“

Legal data bases provide easy and nearly
immediate access to consolidated versions
of laws (automatized consolidation will
make it immediate)

The IT impact on legal
knowledge (prospects)

Improving the transparency of norms and the legal
system by structurizing norms (XML) and the legal
system (RDF/OWL)

Improving the retrievability of norms by describing
them (RDF) and their relations (OWL), thus enabling
automatization and customization of retrieval

Enriching norms with electronic references

Going beyond national legal information systems by
creating a sermantic web as a „global data base“ and a
legal ontology to embed equivalences in content,
structure, and language

The IT impact on legislation

1970s: law documentation (mainframes)

1980s: documentation of legislative processes
(mainframes … PCs)

1990s: electronic availability of data
(metadata, full texts of documents, audio/video
streaming) to the general public (PCs …

Today: “electronification” of legislative
processes, first steps towards electronic
involvement of NGOs and the general public

Tomorrow: ?

Legislative processes and E
business/government functions




Communication and transaction functions
have been made large
scale available
through the Internet and Intranet

Five steps of electronic support
of legislative processes

Knowledge management

Workflow management

Improving the procedural quality

Improving the output quality

Improving the participatory quality

Process modelling

Knowledge management: descriptive
modelling (reduction of complexity)

Workflow management:
descriptive/prescriptive modelling (complex
legal and administrative procedure)

Future development: prescriptive
modelling/process re
engineering (changing
the legislative process, e.g. by introducing new

Improving the procedural quality

Process modelling is making aware of
improvement capability

Procedural steps based on convention have
already been changed/omitted

Change of procedural steps based on rules
of procedure requires amendment of these

Improving the output quality

Legimatic drafting systems for improving
the formal quality of legislation (checking
the implementing of or immediately
implementing legislative guidelines)

Regulatory impact assessment (simulation
systems) for improving the material quality
of legislation

Improving the participatory

Already emerging standard solution:
introducing new communication tools into
the representative system (responsivity as a
necessary feature of transparency)

Dichotomy indirect vs. direct democracy?

Visionary concepts for intermediate
democracy models ...