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Natural language processing in CLIME, a multilingual legal advisory system

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2008

University of Brighton, Brighton BN2 4GJ, UK email:
Centre for Research in Computing, The Open University, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA, UK email:
Department of Linguistics and English Language, University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton BN1 9QN, UK email:
Alcatel Austria Aktiengesellschaft, Scheydgasse 41, 1210 Wien, Austria email:


This paper describes CLIME, a web-based legal advisory system with a multilingual natural language interface. CLIME is a ‘proof-of-concept’ system which answers queries relating to ship-building and ship-operating regulations. Its core knowledge source is a set of such regulations encoded as a conceptual domain model and a set of formalised legal inference rules. The system supports retrieval of regulations via the conceptual model, and assessment of the legality of a situation or activity on a ship according to the legal inference rules. The focus of this paper is on the natural language aspects of the system, which help the user to construct semantically complex queries using WYSIWYM technology, allow the system to produce extended and cohesive responses and explanations, and support the whole interaction through a hybrid synchronous/asynchronous dialogue structure. Multilinguality (English and French) is viewed simply as interface localisation: the core representations are language-neutral, and the system can present extended or local interactions in either language at any time. The development of CLIME featured a high degree of client involvement, and the specification, implementation and evaluation of natural language components in this context are also discussed.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2006

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