Periodic Activity Report (2007)
ESTRELLA brings together the leading European companies and experts in the market of legal knowledge systems, to collaborate on the development, demonstration and dissemination of an innovative, open platform enabling citizens and businesses to easily access, understand and apply complex legislation and regulations. The interests of public administration are represented in ESTRELLA by the participation of the national tax ministries of Hungary and Italy. The main technical objectives of the ESTRELLA project are to develop a Legal Knowledge Interchange Format (LKIF), building upon emerging XML-based standards of the Semantic Web, including RDF and OWL. ESTRELLA will also design a document management system for legal sources, based on a uniform XML format, enabling search, explicating relations with other documents, drafting of new documents and version management. To demonstrate and validate the ESTRELLA platform, European legislation and national tax legislation of two European countries will be modelled and used for pilot applications.
In the first year (reported in PAR D6.11) a first version of LKIF was specified. In this second year, LKIF was tested in actual use in three pilots and already refined. The pilot in Hungary (Ministry of Finance) resulted in an actual (small) system being built to advice on VAT. The pilot in Italy (Ministry of Finance) was directed towards supporting legislative drafters in drafting Italian legislation in accordance with EU directives. Both pilots used vendor tools from and outside of the consortium. In the third pilot we modelled an EU directive directly in LKIF and using the vendor tools. The resulting models were compared. All pilots showed that LKIF was sufficient to model the various types of legislation, that models in one format could be translated to LKIF without substantial loss of information, and again translated (back) into other formats.
A reference inference engine for LKIF was produced (named ‘Carneades’), API’s were described for interacting with LKIF knowledge bases, and translators from and to the vendor formats were developed and tested.
Concerning the management of legal sources, the project has continued co-operation with the CEN/ISSS standardization activities initiated by UvA early in 2006. Furthermore, translators from/to national standards to/from MetaLex/CEN were developed for Italy and Hungary and for the previous MetaLex (v1.3.1). Also, functional requirements for an open source CMS for sources of law were specified.
Several scientific papers on ESTRELLA results were produced in the period. Two vendors of legal knowledge based technology outside of the consortium have already stated they will conform to LKIF with their tools. All results are publicly available through the Estrella web site at http://www.estrellaproject.org
The LKIF format is already useful for exchanging legal knowledge between vendors as was shown during the February 2008 review. This prevents a vendor lock-in situation for the clients of those vendors that are compliant to the LKIF standard (Legal Knowledge Interchange Format). The actual use will become relevant as soon as current or future clients of these vendors would consider changing their supplier. We have started to discuss LKIF compliance with other vendors and will promote the use thereof further at international conferences such as the eJustice conference and the European Business Rules conference both to be held in june 2008. We will also promote the idea of LKIF in various publications planned in both scientific journals and conferences as well as application oriented ones. With respect to the proposals considering a new MetaLex XML-schema for describing legal sources and LMIF (Legal Meta-data Interchange Format) a new activity through the MetaLex/CEN initiative has been started. This activity is to produce an updated version of the MetaLex/CEN standard to be disseminated through CEN.
A training manual and document will be produced during the last phase of the project and this training material will be used in the classes given at the universities involved. Some components of this training material will be used in courses developed and given by the vendors. A more elaborate dissemination plan is foreseen as one of the deliverables due at the end of the Estrella project.