A methodology for designing systems to reason with legal cases using Abstract Dialectical Frameworks

Artificial Intelligence and Law 24 (1):1-49 (2016)
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This paper presents a methodology to design and implement programs intended to decide cases, described as sets of factors, according to a theory of a particular domain based on a set of precedent cases relating to that domain. We useDialectical Frameworks, a recent development in AI knowledge representation, as the central feature of our design method. ADFs will play a role akin to that played by Entity–Relationship models in the design of database systems. First, we explain how the factor hierarchy of the well-known legal reasoning system CATO can be used to instantiate an ADF for the domain of US Trade Secrets. This is intended to demonstrate the suitability of ADFs for expressing the design of legal cased based systems. The method is then applied to two other legal domains often used in the literature of AI and Law. In each domain, the design is provided by the domain analyst expressing the cases in terms of factors organised into an ADF from which an executable program can be implemented in a straightforward way by taking advantage of the closeness of the acceptance conditions of the ADF to components of an executable program. We evaluate the ease of implementation, the performance and efficacy of the resulting program, ease of refinement of the program and the transparency of the reasoning. This evaluation suggests ways in which factor based systems, which are limited by taking as their starting point the representation of cases as sets of factors and so abstracting away the particular facts, can be extended to address open issues in AI and Law by incorporating the case facts to improve the decision, and by considering justification and reasoning using portion of precedents.



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Katie Atkinson
University of Liverpool