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Introduction to the LEDA system (1990-1997)
LEDA is a prototype Legislative Design and Advisory System designed to offer easy access to the Dutch Directives for Regulations (Aanwijzingen voor de regelgeving)
These Directives consist of 346 directives regarding important drafting issues and drafting activities. Aside from legislative technique issues, such as terminology and model clauses, they also deal with structuring issues, policy aspects, methodological issues, procedures, etc. Although they closely resemble ordinary legal rules, they are of a different nature. They are not always generally binding rules, but rather directives one can, in certain cases, deviate from if strict application would lead to unacceptable consequences.
The LEDA system provides legislative drafting assistance on the basis of the Directives for Regulations in a methodical way, concurrent with the information needs during the different drafting activities of the drafting process. Furthermore, LEDA offers a form of knowledge-based IT support for some specific drafting activities, e.g. LEDA makes it possible to check a draft bill on conformity with some of the requirements of the Directives.
History and goals of the LEDA-project
Between 1991 and 1995 a prototype of the Legislative Design and Advisory System LEDA was developed in the LEDA project which was carried out by commission of the Netherlands Ministry of Justice. The LEDA project was aimed at researching the possibilities and the actual development of a practically-geared legislative IT drafting system which would assist the professional legislative draughtsman of the Ministry on the basis of the Directives for regulations. The main goal in developing the LEDA system was to make the information of the Directives themselves easily accessible according to the information-needs during the different stages of the drafting process. Since the Directives were relatively new, at the time of the LEDA project, informatized access to the Directives could provide quite a large advantage over the relatively troublesome access to paper versions of the Directives.
A secondary goal of the LEDA project was to make the information referred to by the Directives (secondary information) easily available to users of the system. Many Directives, as it happens, do not prescribe what the solution to a legislative problem must be, but rather what (kind of) activity should be undertaken given a certain legislative problem. In many cases the Directives also describe what kind of information must be used to perform a prescribed activity.
A third goal of the LEDA project was to offer knowledge-based drafting support for some specific drafting activities (such as checking a draft text for conformity with the requirements as laid down in the Directives).
In order to develop LEDA, a well-known information-oriented system development method (SDM) was adopted. During the development of the LEDA system this method was used to gather the specifications for the LEDA prototype. The environmental characteristics of the legislative drafting process were analysed during the LEDA project in order to gather global specifications for the systems. As a basis for this analysis the Directives for regulations were used. By way of a detailed analysis of each separate Directive, in which each Directive was \'atomised\' to the level of a single normalised drafting activity, the structure of the legislative drafting process according to the Directives was unveiled. During the LEDA project norm-frames were used for this analysis. The analysed legislative drafting structure derived from the Directives constitutes a legislative design-step-model which can be used to develop a system.
The functionalities of the LEDA system
LEDA is a prototype Legislative Design and Advisory System designed to offer easy access to the Dutch Directives for Regulations (and secondary information) in a methodical way, concurrent with the information needs during the different drafting activities of the drafting process. Furthermore, LEDA offers a form of knowledge-based IT support for some specific drafting activities, e.g. LEDA makes it possible to check a draft bill on conformity with some of the requirements of the Directives. LEDA contains three major functionalities: methodological support, document drafting and document assembly support, and knowledge-based information retrieval. The LEDA functionalities are integrated throughout the system. The LEDA system is equipped with a representation of the design step model, which gives users methodological support by offering design modules and design levels, and easy access to relevant information through the functionalities of these modules and levels. To be able to work comfortably with the system, LEDA\'s functionalities have been integrated in a well-known word-processing system.
The combined functionalities make LEDA an integrated authoring-system, i.e. an IT system which assists users in solving legislative problems on the basis of legislative information and, furthermore, supports its users in authoring a legislative document, based on the solved legislative problems, which meets with the requirements of the Directives.
Technically, the LEDA system is a hypertext network which allows different kinds of navigation and working patterns within the system. Users can navigate freely through the system\'s network. The information which the system contains is hypertextually linked in various ways.
AI and language technology in LEDA
LEDA is equipped with a knowledge-based mechanism which allows users to check parts of their draft texts on conformity with Directives requirements. A so-called conceptual dependency parser checks draft texts for Directives concepts. These Directives concepts are represented in LEDA by way of leaflets which contain different associated Directives and key words or key phrases. By comparing the Directives concepts with concepts in the text of a draft, LEDA can determine the relevance of certain Directives for the draft text.
Some screendumps from the 1996/1997 version of WordLeda
fig 1. Levelstructure
fig. 2 LEDA parsing text and making references