Internet-based expert system for legal information

Pao Yue-kong Library Electronic Theses Database

Internet-based expert system for legal information


Author: Leung, Yuen-fong
Title: Internet-based expert system for legal information
Degree: M.Sc.
Year: 2000
Subject: Law -- Data processing
Expert systems (Computer science)
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Dept. of Computing
Pages: vii, 198, [13] leaves : ill. ; 30 cm
Language: English
InnoPac Record:
Abstract: As internet becomes more and more popular, governments begin to publish the legal information and regulations on the Internet for pubic inspection. This paper-less method allows the readers to obtain the information at any time regardless of the location. Same as other countries, the Hong Kong Government of SAR has also published the full text of Hong Kong statutory laws at At present, the prevalent methods available for locating legal information on the Internet are usually 'point & click' and keyword search. However, these two methods have both advantages and disadvantages. Expert system is an intelligent method to capture information from the knowledge base. In the past, there were many prototypes and commercial uses of expert systems developed to retrieve the legal information from the knowledge base. With the widespread use of Internet, the web developer starts to study the use of expert system on the Internet. In the U.S.A., the U.S. Labor Department has set up expert systems for answering the employment laws on the Internet ( However, at the time of writing, the methods for finding Hong Kong statutory law information on the Internet are still restricted to 'click & point' and keyword search. The objective of this dissertation is to study whether an Internet-based expert system can assist the Internet users to locate Hong Kong statutory laws information, which are published by the Department of Justice on the Internet. The research methodology adopted in this dissertation is system development. A prototype is developed to locate the relevant ordinances, which are published by the Department of Justice on the Internet. Unlike the expert system developed by the US. Labour Dept., Jess, a Java-based expert system shell, is used for the development of expert system. The domain selected to represent the legal information is the salaries tax of Inland Revenue Ordinance (Chapter 112), the relevant tax cases and 'A Brief Note of Taxes'. Rule-based is used for the representation of knowledge. The tax knowledge is firstly constructed in the form of decision tree with the help of EXSYS RuleBook Plus. Instead of writing Java source files, a set of CLIPS rules are then prepared and interpreted into Java by Jess. The ordinances, tax cases, ' A Brief Note of Taxes' and the explanation of legal terms are prepared in HTML documents. To allow the expert system to integrate with the HTML documents, the file names of necessary HTML documents are also inserted into the related CLIPS rules. When the rules are met, the browser interprets the HTML pages to display on the screen. The user interface of the system is divided into two frames. When the expert system invokes, it will continuously ask users questions on the left-hand side. Based on the user's response, the system will fire the rules when certain conditions are met. Whenever there is legal jargon in the question, the HTML document containing explanation of legal term is transmitted from the server and shown next to the questions on the right-hand of the client for user 's reference. At the end of consultation, an HTML document containing tax advice, the relevant section numbers of ordinances and the name of tax cases is obtained from the server as a conclusion appearing on the client screen. The section numbers and the name of tax cases are shown as hypertext on the HTML documents. The users can obtain the detailed contents of the relevant ordinances and tax cases by clicking the hypertext according to his preference. Furthermore, the expert system is extended to calculate the tax amount by requesting further information, such as his assessable income and the number of parents, which he entitles parents allowance, from the taxpayer. A survey was carried out to evaluate the performance of the overall system in term of the usefulness, effectiveness and efficiency. It was found that the new system was generally well received by the users. They also felt that it is more comfortable to use the consultation method than 'point & click' and keyword search. However, the users hesitated whether expert system can act as a legal advisor. In conclusion, the Internet-based expert system can help the users to locate the legal information on the Internet. This method is easier than 'point & click' and keyword system is worth full implementation.

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