XML Standards for Legislation

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XML Standards for Legislation

Introduction to Standards for Legislation: Legal XML

Extensive research efforts (specially from the AI and Law community) has been devoted in the last decades for developing and modeling aspects of legal rules and regulations. New rule languages
in the legal domain were created, or just adjusted existing ones. Examples are SBVR, OWL-S, ContractLog, PENELOPE and RuleML for business rules. There is an increasingly tendency to use of XML to describe digital documents, including legal and paralegal documents. Furthermore, the potential use of XML associated with several languages may affect legal documents.

Legislative XML standards

Below is a list of initiatives for representing legislative documents throughout XML languages. According to a paper, “much of these XML-based attempts are ambitious, valuable and effective.”These standards for representing legislation “mostly focused on representing legal documents rather than modeling directly legal rules. In addition, some are focused on specific application areas, others model a few aspects of the many concerns that exist in reality, or, if developed in order to be sufficiently general, exhibit some limitations since they are not based on robust or comprehensive conceptual models for representing legal rules to be applied in the legal domain….In general, many of the drawbacks affecting many existing languages are perhaps due to the fact that there has not yet been an overall and systematic effort to establish a general list of requirements for rule interchange languages in the legal domain or because there is not yet an agreement in particular among the practitioners working in this field.”(1)

The paper concluded that, “although the legal domain has several features which are shared by other domains, some aspects are very specific for the law. Consider the notion of information retrieval. In the law, question-answering “seems more relevant than information retrieval” , since “question requires some deduction or inference before an appropriate answer can be given” and “regulations may contain many different articles about the same topic and one can only assess whether something is permitted or not by understanding the full documentation” . “A rather detailed understanding is required, in particular, because regulations generally contain complex structures of exceptions” . The peculiarity of the legal domain thus poses specific problems for developing suitable and faithful representation languages.”(2)

For the authors of the paper, no language examined in it satisfy all the requirements they listed. But “it should be noted, however, that not all those requirements play the same role in the legal domain. While the concept of defeasibility, for example, is almost ubiquitous in the law, others, such as the representation of some temporal properties (in particular, the time when a rule is in force) are definitely more important when we are dealing, e.g., with legislation.”(3)

Accordingly, some languages “are not … expressive enough for the legal domain. In particular, RIF and SWRL fail to meet the defeasibility requirement, which is quite fundamental: legal rules are often defeasible and cannot be correctly represented through material implications in first-order logic. Hence, LKIF and RuleML look suitable and more flexible in this regard. Another requirement, among
others, which seems crucial for modeling legal rules is the correct representation of the many different types of normative effects, and the need to capture, for example, the deontic concepts. Here, SBVR and RuleML [16], though with some limitations, show how to do that in a rather satisfactory way.”(4)

Standards for legal source description using XML language in the World

Several national and regional initiatives have introduced legislative XML standards. Here are a non-exhaustive listing:

European initiatives

  • MetaLex (Netherland) (CEN MetaLex is ana pan-European initiative). Used by the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration, Be Value, the Belgian Public Centers for Welfare and others, it allows for exchange and comparison of legal documents from different sources (such as publishers). It provides a generic and easily extensible framework for the XML encoding of the structure and contents of written public decisions and public legal documents of a general and regulatory nature.
  • SDU BWB (Netherland). This XML format is currently used for encoding the laws in the Dutch Basiswettenbestand (BWB) database, which is a large database containing almost all Dutch laws and decisions. The standard is based on a DTD originally developed by SDU publishers, and now maintained by the Dutch government. A law or decision is divided in intul, introduction, the actual text, closure and appendices.
  • LexDania (Denmark). I was initiated by the Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation then continued by the Rets information (Ministry of Justice) and the Folketinget (Danish Parliament). The work was conducted by a research on international activities and an investigation in other national standards and projects. It uses extensively the XML Schema Definition Language.
  • CHLexML (Switzerland). A XML standard for legislation in Switzerland.
  • eLaw (Austria). A XML standard for legislation in Austria, as well as identification systems for legal documents.
  • Legal XML. Formed in 1998, It focuses on electronic filing of court documents and develops open, non proprietary standards for legal documents and associated applications. LegalXML is a collection of standards developed by different Technical Committees, covering a wide spectrum of legal materials. The Court Filing Workgroup was the first and only workgroup to publish a proposed standard specification.
  • LAMS
  • UKMF
  • FORMEX data model – EUR-LEX
  • Crown XML Schema for Legislation (United Kingdom) 
  • NormeinRete (Italy)
  • XML4EP (European Parliament)

African, American and Australian Initiatives

African initiatives

Akoma Ntoso Project. (United Nations for Pan-African Parliaments) It was launched by the Pan African Parliament. It aims at defining an XML document format based on legislative and parliamentary documents in African Parliaments.

American Initiatives

  • United States Institutional initiative: XML at the US House of Representatives. https://xml.house.gov/ bills, amendments, voting, resolutions
  • United States Non-institutional initiative: Legal-RDF
  • U.S.:FRMergedXML.xsd for the Federal Register (https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/bulkdata/FR/resources)
  • StratML.xsd: for strategic plan and enabiling agencies to comply with the provisions of subsections 202(b)(4), (5) and 207(d) of the eGov Act https://www.xml.gov/stratml/index.htm
  • U.S.: LegalXML for Courts, e-Contract, e-Notariat
  • Argentina: Chamber of Deputies for bill and debates
  • LegalXML Brazil
  • Chile: XML for e-document legislative management Decree No 81, 2005
  • Columbia: GEL-XML eGov standard
  • Mexico: Chamber of Deputies for the debates
  • Uruguay: XML-isation project in Parliament

Australian initiatives

  • EnAct (Tasmania, Australia, New Zealand and Canada)
  • JSMS (Australia)

Tools for implementation and some European Projects

Tools for legislative standards implementation:

  • xmLegesLinker
  • xmLegesMarker
  • xmLegesClassifier
  • xmLegesExtractor
  • xmLegesEditor
  • Norma-Editor
  • MetaVex Editor

Legislative standards in some European projects:

  • Estrella project
  • Legal Knowledge Interchange Format (LKIF)
  • eParticipation initiative
  • DALOS project
  • SEAL Project
  • NormeInRete standards

The case of Judicial Documents: JDME

The Framework JDME ((Jurix document management environment) is the answer to the problems of management, storage, retrieval, processing and file sharing specifically for judicial documents. It is based on a set of techniques that allow quick access to services for the exchange of information and documents generated. It passes through four major phases The first phase (categorization of the digital documents) classify and identify all the documents which enter in the category of judicial decision like orders, judgments or court decisions.

Notes and References

Rules and Norms: Requirements for Rule Interchange Languages in the Legal Domain,Thomas F. Gordon1, Guido Governatori, and Antonino Rotolo

1.Guides to Sources of Basic Legislation (9.9)

See Also

  • Semantic Web and Law
  • Semantic Indexing and Law
  • MetaLex
  • LegalXML
  • LexDania
  • NormeinRete
  • CHLexML
  • EnAct
  • Legal RDF
  • eLaw
  • LAMS
  • JSMS
  • UKMF
  • Estrella Project
  • Legal Ontologies
  • Artificial Intelligence and Law
  • Free Access to Law Movement
  • Legal Information Institute resources

Further Reading

  • Alexander Boer, Rinke Hoekstra, Radboud Winkels, Tom van Engers, Frederik Willaert Pages: 142-149, EGOV ’02 Proceedings of the First International Conference on Electronic Government 2002
  • Lupo, C. and Batini, C. (2003). A federative approach to laws access by citizens: The “NormeinRete” system. In Traunmuller, R., editor, Proceedings of Second International Conference Electronic Government (EGOV), pages 413-416. Springer-Verlag.
  • ChLexML .https://www.svri.ch/.
  • Jérôme Fuselier et Boris Chidlovskii, Traitements Automatiques pour la Migration de Documents Numériques vers XML, in Document Numérique, vol 9/1 -2006.
  • C.Lupo,F.Vitali,E.Francesconi,M.Palmirani,R.Winkels,E.deMaat,A.Boer,andP.Mascellani. General XML format(s) for legal sources. Technical report, IST-2004-027655
  • Daniel POULIN, Marc TREMBLAY et Serge PARISIEN, « à‰changes électroniques d’informations juridiques, expériences récentes et perspectives » , Actes du Colloque Les autoroutes de l’information : enjeux et défis, J. FRà‰MONT et J.P. Ducasse (dir.), Centre Jacques Cartier, Lyon, 1995.
  • Ovidiu Vasutiu, David Jouve, Youssef Amghar, Jean-Marie Pinon, XML based Legal Document Drafting Information System, 20th Aniversary Annual JURIX Conference, Workshop on Legislative XML, LIRIS, 12/2007
  • Estrella Project user report. Deliverable4.5,EuropeanCommission, 2008.
  • Tucker, H. (2004b). LexDania – Documentation. Guidelines for Writing Omni- and DocType and Application Schemas.
  • Tucker, H. (2004f). Lex Dania – White Paper. A System of XML Schemas for Danish Legislative Documentation.
  • Data models for version management of legislative documents, Marà­a Hallo Carrasco,
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  • Architecture for Knowledge-Oriented Management of African Normative Texts using Open
    Standards and Ontologies. https://www.akomantoso.org/.
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  • C. Lupo, F. Vitali, E. Francesconi, M. Palmirani, R.Winkels, E. de Maat, A. Boer, and P. Mascellani. General XML format(s) for legal sources. Technical report, IST-2004-027655 ESTRELLA European project for Standardised Transparent Representations in order to Extend
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