Also published as: Jaromir Savelka
Legal texts routinely use concepts that are difficult to understand. Lawyers elaborate on the meaning of such concepts by, among other things, carefully investigating how they have been used in the past. Finding text snippets that mention a particular concept in a useful way is tedious, time-consuming, and hence expensive. We assembled a data set of 26,959 sentences, coming from legal case decisions, and labeled them in terms of their usefulness for explaining selected legal concepts. Using the dataset we study the effectiveness of transformer models pre-trained on large language corpora to detect which of the sentences are useful. In light of models’ predictions, we analyze various linguistic properties of the explanatory sentences as well as their relationship to the legal concept that needs to be explained. We show that the transformer-based models are capable of learning surprisingly sophisticated features and outperform the prior approaches to the task.
In this paper, we publicly release an annotated corpus of 42 decisions of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The corpus is annotated in terms of three types of clauses useful in argument mining: premise, conclusion, and non-argument parts of the text. Furthermore, relationships among the premises and conclusions are mapped. We present baselines for three tasks that lead from unstructured texts to structured arguments. The tasks are argument clause recognition, clause relation prediction, and premise/conclusion recognition. Despite a straightforward application of the bidirectional encoders from Transformers (BERT), we obtained very promising results F1 0.765 on argument recognition, 0.511 on relation prediction, and 0.859/0.628 on premise/conclusion recognition). The results suggest the usefulness of pre-trained language models based on deep neural network architectures in argument mining. Because of the simplicity of the baselines, there is ample space for improvement in future work based on the released corpus.