Publications

This is a searchable catalogue of the College's most recent books and working papers. Other papers and publications can be found on SSRN and the ANU Researchers database.

A Commonwealth Pro-Disclosure Culture - Implications and Opportunities

Author(s): James Popple

Reform of Commonwealth freedom of information legislation has entrenched a pro-disclosure culture. New requirements for proactive publication are enhancing community access to, and engagement with, government information. Robust information management systems are critical if government is to meet its obligations to give access to documents and publish information, while protecting personal privacy.

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Centre: CIPL

Research theme: Administrative Law

Freedom of Information

Freedom of Information: A Government Perspective

Author(s): James Popple

Significant reforms were made to the Australian Freedom of Information Act 1982 from 1 November 2010. The guiding principle behind these reforms is that information held by the Government is to be managed for public purposes and is a national resource. This paper describes those changes to Australian FOI laws and charts their progress during the first year of reform.

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Centre: CCL

Research theme: Administrative Law

The Right to Protection from Retroactive Criminal Law

Author(s): James Popple

The essentiality of a right to protection from retroactive criminal law has generally been accepted without argument. The principle has been enunciated in various declarations of human rights from 1789 until the present. Nevertheless, there are several examples in international, Australian and British law where the principle has been ignored or (at the very least) circumvented. Three examples of retrospective law-making are discussed: the Nuremberg trials of the late 1940s; the decision of the House of Lords in Shaw v. Director of Public Prosecutions in 1961; and Australian bottom of the harbour tax legislation of 1982. Further, there is the example of judge-made law. When this is taken into account, it can be seen that the right to protection from retroactive criminal law is regularly qualified, to such an extent, and in such an indeterminate fashion, that its status as a human right - even as a qualified human right - is dubious.

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Centre: CCL

Research theme: Administrative Law

Personal Property Securities Reform and Security Interests in Ships

Author(s): James Popple

The Australian Government, together with the governments of the Australian states and territories, is undertaking reform of the law of personal property securities. PPS law in Australia is currently very complex, and varies according to: the location and nature of the collateral; the nature of the security interest; and the legal personality of the debtor. The objectives of PPS reform are to increase legal certainty by increasing consistency and reducing complexity, which should lead to reduced costs. At present, the application of PPS law to a transaction generally depends on the legal form of that transaction. The new PPS system will be based on a functional approach, looking to the substance of a transaction. The intention is that, subject to countervailing policy considerations, all security interests will be treated the same as far as is possible, with all PPS interests registered in one place, and subject to one Act. If security interests in ships are treated as not being an exception to this approach, then those interests would be registrable on the new PPS register only, and not on the shipping register.

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Centre: CIPL

Research theme: Military & Security Law

Personal Property Securities Reform

Author(s): James Popple

The Australian Government, together with the governments of the Australian states and territories, is undertaking reform of the law of personal property securities.

PPS law in Australia is currently very complex, and varies according to: the location and nature of the collateral; the nature of the security interest; and the legal personality of the debtor.

The objectives of PPS reform are to increase legal certainty by increasing consistency and reducing complexity, which should lead to reduced costs.

At present, the application of PPS law to a transaction generally depends on the legal form of that transaction. The new PPS system will be based on a functional approach, looking to the substance of a transaction.

The intention is that, subject to countervailing policy considerations, all security interests will be treated the same as far as is possible, with all PPS interests registered in one place, and subject to one Act. Several significant policy issues, which will need to be resolved during the development of the new PPS legislation, are identified.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL

Research theme: Military & Security Law

SHYSTER-MYCIN: A Hybrid Legal Expert System

Author(s): James Popple

SHYSTER-MYCIN combines a case-based legal expert system (SHYSTER) with a rule-based expert system (MYCIN) to form a hybrid legal expert system. MYCIN's reporting has been improved for use with SHYSTER-MYCIN to provide more useful information about the system's conclusions. SHYSTER-MYCIN's output was tested against that of a group of lawyers, not expert in the test domain (Australian copyright law). This allowed the system's reasoning, rather than its depth of knowledge, to be tested. Testing indicates that SHYSTER-MYCIN's approach to the law - using a rule-based system to reason with legislation and a case-based system to reason with cases - is appropriate.

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Centre:

Research theme:

Building and Testing the SHYSTER-MYCIN Hybrid Legal Expert System

Author(s): James Popple

SHYSTER-MYCIN is a hybrid legal expert system created by combining rule-based and case-based reasoning. The MYCIN part uses a system of rules to reason with provisions of an Act of a parliament; the SHYSTER part uses analogy to reason with cases that explain "open-textured" concepts encountered in legislation.

The construction of the expert system is focused upon: creating and evaluating a model of legal reasoning, and improving the reporting made by the MYCIN part.

The model of legal reasoning is supported by jurisprudential discussion. The model holds that rules (in the strict sense of the word) cannot be extracted from cases. Cases should therefore be argued by analogy. The only rules that exist in law are those in legislation.

The method of evaluating the model of legal reasoning is comparative. Reports by the system are compared with reports by a test group of legally trained people. Both the system and the test group were provided with the same material on which to base their reports. This ensured that the evaluation was of the model of reasoning, rather than the depth of knowledge.

The reporting made by MYCIN was improved for use in SHYSTER-MYCIN, so that the system states how it comes to its conclusions. This reporting was then restricted to only the "interesting" conclusions.

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Centre:

Research theme:

A Pragmatic Legal Expert System

Author(s): James Popple

Most legal expert systems attempt to implement complex models of legal reasoning. Yet the utility of a legal expert system lies not in the extent to which it simulates a lawyer's approach to a legal problem, but in the quality of its predictions and of its arguments. A complex model of legal reasoning is not necessary: a successful legal expert system can be based upon a simplified model of legal reasoning. Some researchers have based their systems upon a jurisprudential approach to the law, yet lawyers are patently able to operate without any jurisprudential insight. A useful legal expert system should be capable of producing advice similar to that which one might get from a lawyer, so it should operate at the same pragmatic level of abstraction as does a lawyer-not at the more philosophical level of jurisprudence. A legal expert system called SHYSTER has been developed to demonstrate that a useful legal expert system can be based upon a pragmatic approach to the law. SHYSTER has a simple representation structure which simplifies the problem of knowledge acquisition. Yet this structure is complex enough for SHYSTER to produce useful advice. SHYSTER is a case-based legal expert system (although it has been designed so that it can be linked with a rule-based system to form a hybrid legal expert system). Its advice is based upon an examination of, and an argument about, the similarities and differences between cases. SHYSTER attempts to model the way in which lawyers argue with cases, but it does not attempt to model the way in which lawyers decide which cases to use in those arguments. Instead, it employs statistical techniques to quantify the similarity between cases. It decides which cases to use in argument, and what prediction it will make, on the basis of that similarity measure. SHYSTER is of a general design: it provides advice in areas of case law that have been specified by a legal expert using a specification language. Four different, and disparate, areas of law have been specified for SHYSTER, and its operation has been tested in each of those legal domains. Testing of SHYSTER in these four domains indicates that it is exceptionally good at predicting results, and fairly good at choosing cases with which to construct its arguments. SHYSTER demonstrates the viability of a pragmatic approach to legal expert system design.

Read on SSRN

Centre:

Research theme: Administrative Law

A Pragmatic Legal Expert System

Author(s): James Popple

Most legal expert systems attempt to implement complex models of legal reasoning. Yet the utility of a legal expert system lies not in the extent to which it simulates a lawyer's approach to a legal problem, but in the quality of its predictions and of its arguments. A complex model of legal reasoning is not necessary: a successful legal expert system can be based upon a simplified model of legal reasoning. Some researchers have based their systems upon a jurisprudential approach to the law, yet lawyers are patently able to operate without any jurisprudential insight. A useful legal expert system should be capable of producing advice similar to that which one might get from a lawyer, so it should operate at the same pragmatic level of abstraction as does a lawyer-not at the more philosophical level of jurisprudence. A legal expert system called SHYSTER has been developed to demonstrate that a useful legal expert system can be based upon a pragmatic approach to the law. SHYSTER has a simple representation structure which simplifies the problem of knowledge acquisition. Yet this structure is complex enough for SHYSTER to produce useful advice. SHYSTER is a case-based legal expert system (although it has been designed so that it can be linked with a rule-based system to form a hybrid legal expert system). Its advice is based upon an examination of, and an argument about, the similarities and differences between cases. SHYSTER attempts to model the way in which lawyers argue with cases, but it does not attempt to model the way in which lawyers decide which cases to use in those arguments. Instead, it employs statistical techniques to quantify the similarity between cases. It decides which cases to use in argument, and what prediction it will make, on the basis of that similarity measure. SHYSTER is of a general design: it provides advice in areas of case law that have been specified by a legal expert using a specification language. Four different, and disparate, areas of law have been specified for SHYSTER, and its operation has been tested in each of those legal domains. Testing of SHYSTER in these four domains indicates that it is exceptionally good at predicting results, and fairly good at choosing cases with which to construct its arguments. SHYSTER demonstrates the viability of a pragmatic approach to legal expert system design.

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Centre:

Research theme: Administrative Law

SHYSTER: The Program

Author(s): James Popple

This technical report provides fully commented and indexed listings of the ISO C source code for the SHYSTER legal expert system.

Details of the design, implementation, operation and testing of SHYSTER are given by Popple in A Pragmatic Legal Expert System (1996), Applied Legal Philosophy Series, Dartmouth (Ashgate), Aldershot, ISBN-1-85521-739-2 - available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1335176.

Read on SSRN

Centre:

Research theme: Administrative Law

SHYSTER: A Pragmatic Legal Expert System

Author(s): James Popple

Most legal expert systems attempt to implement complex models of legal reasoning. Yet the utility of a legal expert system lies not in the extent to which it simulates a lawyer's approach to a legal problem, but in the quality of its predictions and of its arguments. A complex model of legal reasoning is not necessary: a successful legal expert system can be based upon a simplified model of legal reasoning.

Some researchers have based their systems upon a jurisprudential approach to the law, yet lawyers are patently able to operate without any jurisprudential insight. A useful legal expert system should be capable of producing advice similar to that which one might get from a lawyer, so it should operate at the same pragmatic level of abstraction as does a lawyer-not at the more philosophical level of jurisprudence.

A legal expert system called SHYSTER has been developed to demonstrate that a useful legal expert system can be based upon a pragmatic approach to the law. SHYSTER has a simple representation structure which simplifies the problem of knowledge acquisition. Yet this structure is complex enough for SHYSTER to produce useful advice.

SHYSTER is a case-based legal expert system (although it has been designed so that it can be linked with a rule-based system to form a hybrid legal expert system). Its advice is based upon an examination of, and an argument about, the similarities and differences between cases. SHYSTER attempts to model the way in which lawyers argue with cases, but it does not attempt to model the way in which lawyers decide which cases to use in those arguments. Instead, it employs statistical techniques to quantify the similarity between cases. It decides which cases to use in argument, and what prediction it will make, on the basis of that similarity measure.

SHYSTER is of a general design: it provides advice in areas of case law that have been specified by a legal expert using a specification language. Four different, and disparate, areas of law have been specified for SHYSTER, and its operation has been tested in each of those legal domains.

Testing of SHYSTER in these four domains indicates that it is exceptionally good at predicting results, and fairly good at choosing cases with which to construct its arguments. SHYSTER demonstrates the viability of a pragmatic approach to legal expert system design.

Read on SSRN

Centre:

Research theme: Administrative Law

SHYSTER: A Pragmatic Legal Expert System

Author(s): James Popple

Most legal expert systems attempt to implement complex models of legal reasoning. Yet the utility of a legal expert system lies not in the extent to which it simulates a lawyer's approach to a legal problem, but in the quality of its predictions and of its arguments. A complex model of legal reasoning is not necessary: a successful legal expert system can be based upon a simplified model of legal reasoning.

Some researchers have based their systems upon a jurisprudential approach to the law, yet lawyers are patently able to operate without any jurisprudential insight. A useful legal expert system should be capable of producing advice similar to that which one might get from a lawyer, so it should operate at the same pragmatic level of abstraction as does a lawyer-not at the more philosophical level of jurisprudence.

A legal expert system called SHYSTER has been developed to demonstrate that a useful legal expert system can be based upon a pragmatic approach to the law. SHYSTER has a simple representation structure which simplifies the problem of knowledge acquisition. Yet this structure is complex enough for SHYSTER to produce useful advice.

SHYSTER is a case-based legal expert system (although it has been designed so that it can be linked with a rule-based system to form a hybrid legal expert system). Its advice is based upon an examination of, and an argument about, the similarities and differences between cases. SHYSTER attempts to model the way in which lawyers argue with cases, but it does not attempt to model the way in which lawyers decide which cases to use in those arguments. Instead, it employs statistical techniques to quantify the similarity between cases. It decides which cases to use in argument, and what prediction it will make, on the basis of that similarity measure.

SHYSTER is of a general design: it provides advice in areas of case law that have been specified by a legal expert using a specification language. Four different, and disparate, areas of law have been specified for SHYSTER, and its operation has been tested in each of those legal domains.

Testing of SHYSTER in these four domains indicates that it is exceptionally good at predicting results, and fairly good at choosing cases with which to construct its arguments. SHYSTER demonstrates the viability of a pragmatic approach to legal expert system design.

Read on SSRN

Centre:

Research theme:

Legal Expert Systems: The Inadequacy of a Rule-Based Approach

Author(s): James Popple

The two different categories of legal AI system are described, and legal analysis systems are chosen as objects of study. So-called judgment machines are discussed, but it is decided that research in legal AI systems would be best carried-out in the area of legal expert systems. A model of legal reasoning is adopted, and two different methods of legal knowledge representation are examined: rule-based systems and case-based systems. It is argued that a rule-based approach to legal expert systems is inadequate given the requirements of lawyers and the nature of legal reasoning about cases. A new, eclectic approach is proposed, incorporating both rule-based and case-based knowledge representation. It is claimed that such an approach can form the basis of an effective and useful legal expert system.

Read on SSRN

Centre:

Research theme:

Legal Expert Systems: The Inadequacy of a Rule-Based Approach

Author(s): James Popple

The two different categories of legal AI system are described, and legal analysis systems are chosen as objects of study. So-called judgment machines are discussed, but it is decided that research in legal AI systems would be best carried-out in the area of legal expert systems. A model of legal reasoning is adopted, and two different methods of legal knowledge representation are examined: rule-based systems and case-based systems. It is argued that a rule-based approach to legal expert systems is inadequate given the requirements of lawyers and the nature of legal reasoning about cases. A new, eclectic approach is proposed, incorporating both rule-based and case-based knowledge representation. It is claimed that such an approach can form the basis of an effective and useful legal expert system.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CCL

Research theme: Administrative Law

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