DALOS project (DALOS)

Published on: 16/09/2010
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The main purposes of the DALOS project is ensuring that legal drafters and decision-makers have control over the legal language at national and European level, by providing law-makers with linguistic and knowledge management tools to be used in the legislative processes, in particular within the phase of legislative drafting. This will contribute to the harmonisation and coherence of legislative texts. Moreover, once the text is delivered, ontological knowledge will facilitate retrieval for European citizens and also interpretation and implementation of legal documents.

These results, besides a well structured multilingual domain-specific ontology require a set of computer tools, clustered around such ontology. Such tools will allow to monitor the connection between the language and terminology used in the text and the harmonised concept repository, thus allowing the law makers to get immediate feedback on the quality and accessibility of the language used. On the other hand, tools for terminology extraction and ontology learning can help the expansion of existing ontologies and terminological repositories in a controlled and harmonized way. In DALOS project such tools are expected to manage multilingual issues: they will be addressed to harmonize legal concepts and related terminologies used in European legislation as well as in the legislation of different European countries.

To obtain this result the project will exploit  linguisticontological resources developed within previous European project experiences. In particular to guarantee the feasibility of the project, the ontological-terminological resources developed within LOIS project (EDC 22161), will be made available for integration within the drafting tools, used by legislative offices, through a defined standard interface, thus without interfering in the chain of legislative production, but nevertheless guaranteeing the improvement of the law making activity and the final products of the legislative processes. Using such resources legislative drafters will be able to query linguistic and ontological resources, searching for appropriate and standardized terms or locutions, corresponding to specific legal concepts.

The above resources will be integrated with T2K ("Text-to-Knowledge"), an ontology learning tool jointly developed at CNR-ILC and Pisa University (Department of Linguistics) which combines linguistic and statistical techniques to carry out the ontology learning task. Starting from a document collection, T2K acquires domain terminology (both simple and multi-word terms) and organizes the set of acquired terms into a) taxonomical chains (reconstructed from their internal linguistic structure), and b) clusters of semantically related terms (inferred through distributionally based similarity measures). Moreover the GATE tool developed by the University of Sheffield Computer Science Department will be integrated as well. It supports advanced language analysis, data visualisation, and information sharing in many languages. GATE has facilities for viewing, editing, and annotating corpora in a wide number of languages (based on Unicode) and has been used successfully for the creation, semi-automatic annotation and analysis of many electronic resources. It contains many modules for the annotation of textual material, such as part of speech information, lemmatization, conceptual indexing and semantic annotation.

The expected results will be measured in terms of quality of the produced legal texts. To measure the impact of the DALOS prototype European directives on protection of consumers' economic and legal interests, on internal market and the "rejected" Constitutional treaty will be used as case study. In particular all these data will try to testify the importance for the people to understand laws and naturally pose the constitutional treaty as an ideal test bed to verify the capacities of the DALOS system.

Description of target users and groups

People drafting legislation in the European Legal Context.

Description of the way to implement the initiative

DALOS project aims at:

  • providing the drafters with easy access to the pertinent ontological resources so that they can obtain immediate clarifications on legal terms used, navigate through the network of legal terms, consider the ways in which the same concept is expressed in different languages;
  • enriching linguistic-ontological resources both via interaction with legal experts directly involved and via the integration of ontology learning tools, able to cluster relevant terms from legislative texts and organizing them in taxonomical chains integrating ontological tools within the legislative process;
  • facilitating accessibility to legislative texts by European citizens, thus promoting their participation in the legislative process and their involvement in the law comprehension process;
  • improving the quality and the readability of legislative texts, thus contributing also to the "certainty of law".

Technology solution

Syntactic and semantic parsing, documents tagging, editing tools, ontolgy learning from texts, standard implementation.

Technology choice: Mainly (or only) open standards

Main results, benefits and impacts

The final result of DALOS project will be a linguistic tool assisting the process of drafting legislation by providing ontology-based and statistically selected suggestions for terminological re-use and knowledge management.

Structural collaboration between legislative drafters would help

(a) raise the awareness of the collective effort that the implementation of Community Directives should constitute,

(b) converge implementations of Directives to such an extent that they support harmonization and

(c) create a common legal vocabulary that helps legislative drafters and citizens.

From the non expert-user perspective, the result of the project will allow citizens to access the draft bill by searching via common language terms (automatically expanded by the query constructor into technical or semantically precise terms). Explanation of technical expression can be provided through the navigation in the lexicon structure, by the semantic relation, the definitions added to concepts, the contexts of reference. It will be also possible accessing the law by non mother tongue speaker using their own language.

Lessons learnt

1 Adoption of  standard architectures , structures (Identifiers,metadata sets) and format (RDF,OWL) in order to ensure stronger semantic interoperability and open access.

2. availability of (free) distributed platforms for importing, matching, editing , and for the collaborative integration of the terminological/ontological resources

3. availability of (free tools) for  for knowledge acquisition from users (citizen perspectives).

Scope: Pan-European