UNIVERSITY of Huddersfield scientist Professor Grigoris Antoniou heads one of the most important elements of a multi-national research project that aims to make a major breakthrough in the burgeoning field of legal informatics.
The term refers to the use of advanced information technology to search for legal data to aid decision-making and compliance. Now, the EU has awarded more 1.2 million euros for a four-year research programme that pools expertise at universities in several European countries plus China, Australia, Japan, South Africa and Argentina.
It is co-ordinated by the University of Luxembourg, which was the venue for the official launch of MIREL, which stands for Mining and Reasoning with Legal Texts. This describes how legal informatics can be used to search for data, and then arrive at an interpretation for clients, such as companies seeking to ensure that products or new developments are fully compliant with regulations in the territories where they operate.
Professor Antoniou is a globally-acknowledged expert on knowledge representation and semantic technologies and he attended the launch of MIREL, where the University of Huddersfield was awarded the leadership of one of the project's work packages. This will deal with the issue of reasoning, which is a major challenge for artificial intelligence when huge amounts of data are involved. Current legal informatics technology cannot cope with the sheer quantity of information now being mined. It includes regulations, planning laws, geographical factors and legal norms.
The MIREL research takes Professor Antoniou, from the University's School of Computing and Engineering, in a new direction.
"I have not specifically worked on legal informatics before, although I have worked on modes of representation and languages that are being used in that domain," he said. MIREL needed to bring in many different perspectives, including Professor Antoniou's expertise in knowledge representation, reasoning and the semantic web.
The MIREL funding will enable University of Huddersfield experts, including Professor Antoniou himself, to pay research visits to overseas institutions participating in the project, and later this year there will be visits to Huddersfield by researchers from Australia and Argentina, plus one of the companies that are also involved in the project, providing it with genuine case studies.