Workshop on Legal Understanding

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Wednesday, September 8, 2021 - 09:00 to 12:30

In the workshop on legal understanding we have invited speakers that will present the current state of the art of legal understanding with regard to Dutch legislation and legal texts. We will discuss the way legislation and legal text can be structured for better accessibility and we will examine a number of legal frameworks that can help to get a deep understanding of the legal constructs used in these text. We will close of with a panel discussion of the future of legal understanding and how semantic technology can be used to support these efforts. The workshop on Legal Understanding is divided in two sessions.

Session1: 9:00 – 10:30
Title: Legal Understanding
Chair: Marco Brattinga, Ordina
During this first session, we will explore the reasons why legal understanding is such an urgent topic, what the current state of affairs is and what different approaches are currently investigated. We start with Reindert Gerding who will show us some examples of what citizens come across in their lives. He will give us a human perspective and guide us into a direction he sees that can help citizens, organizations, policy- and lawmakers to better understand what it takes to make clear, explainable and acceptable legislation. We continue with Marc van Opijnen who will inform us of the different standards that are used and developed with regard to the publication of legislation as the foundation on top of which a semantic layer can be build, such as ELI, ECLI and Akoma Ntoso. The remaining part of the session will introduce three different reasons and needs for a better understanding of legislation. Sander Mul will show us that the digital transformation of society demands a more adaptable legislation. Flores Bakker will show us how the lack of explicitly defined legal norms causes redundancy and low data quality through non-synchrone, heterogeneous and incomplete information, while at the same time leading to inefficient and laborious processes for storing, using and, especially, changing this information. He will show how the methodology of Calculemus-Flint offers help. Finally, Tjeerd Schoemaker will show us why the National Police organization needs semantics to effectively enforce the law.

Download: Law Analysis for a practicable execution of legislation with IT systems, A. Ausems, J.P. Bulles en M.H.A.F. Lokin

Session 2: 11:00 – 12:30
Title: Joint session: Legal understanding meets Controlled Natural Language
Key Note: Semantic analysis of legislation for the effectuation of law using information technology
Presenters: Mariette Lokin, Dutch Tax Office & John Bulles, PNA
The government uses IT on a large scale for the implementation of legislation. This makes it possible to quickly take decisions about the rights and obligations of citizens and companies. A good translation of legislation into the digital domain requires precision in the interpretation of legislation and the recording of its meaning and structure. Multidisciplinary and iterative collaboration between lawyers, change managers, semantic engineers and software developers is essential. It bridges the gap between language and technology and contributes to ensuring that the rules are incorporated correctly into the system. It also ensures that decisions taken on that basis can be explained and justified. Mariette and John will guide us through the content of their recent book “Wetsanalyse”, written together with Anouschka Aussems, and explain how they use a controlled natural language to describe the semantics “hidden” in legal text.
Panel Discussion: How can controlled natural languages help to understand legal text?
Moderators: Marco Brattinga and Tobias Kuhn
Legal texts are hard to understand: not for ordinary people, and even less for computers. One of the challenges we are facing is that even more complex systems and legislation are created. How can we, ordinary people, still understand such systems and rules? How can we explain why particular legislation is needed and what it means? And how can we embed these rules correctly in IT systems we are using? This morning at Semantics and the CNL workshop, we have been introduced to multiple initiatives and innovative ideas and concepts that can indeed help. During this panel session, we will discuss these initiatives and ideas and explore the way forward to better understand, effectuate and explain legislation for government, citizens and companies.

About the organizers:

Marco Brattinga, MSC, is Ordina’s principal expert for intelligent data-driven organizations. Marco studied Information Technology at the University of Twente. He has more than 20 years of experience as an IT architect and consultant in the public sector. Since 2011 he has been working on semantic web technology for the exchange of information between organizations and data management issues, in particular the semantic description of datasets and the understanding of legal texts. Marco is actively involved in various communities that stimulate semantic web technology in the public sector.

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