Law & Economics Workshop with Dr Dimitrios Tsarapatsanis & Nikolaos Aletras
Predicting Judicial Decisions of the European Court of Human Rights: A Natural Language Processing Perspective
Recent advances in Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning provide us with the tools to build predictive models that can be used to unveil patterns driving judicial decisions. This can be useful, for both lawyers and judges, as an assisting tool to rapidly identify cases and extract patterns which lead to certain decisions.
This paper presents the first systematic study on predicting the outcome of cases tried by the European Court of Human Rights based solely on textual content. The authors formulate a binary classification task where the input of our classifiers is the textual content extracted from a case and the target output is the actual judgement as to whether there has been a violation of an article of the convention of human rights. Textual information is represented using contiguous word sequences, i.e., N-grams, and topics. Their models can predict the court’s decisions with a strong accuracy (79% on average). Our empirical analysis indicates that the formal facts of a case are the most important predictive factor. This is consistent with the theory of legal realism suggesting that judicial decision-making is significantly affected by the stimulus of the facts. They also observe that the topical content of a case is another important feature in this classification task and explore this relationship further by conducting a qualitative analysis.
About the speakers
Dr Dimitrios Tsarapatsanis is a lecturer at the University of Sheffield. He holds an LLB from the University of Athens, where he also obtained his first postgraduate degree, an LLM in EU & International Law. He joined the School of Law in 2012. Prior to that, he was a part-time Teaching Assistant at the University of Athens. He has worked as an Attorney-at-law in an Athens-based law firm, specializing in EU Law and European Human Rights Law.
Nikolaos Aletras is an Applied Scientist at Amazon working on Alexa, the voice service that powers the Echo speakers. Previously he was a Research Associate at the Department of Computer Science at UCL, Media Futures Group. Previously, he completed a PhD in NLP at the Department of Computer Science of the University of Sheffield under the supervision of Dr. Mark Stevenson. His main research area is in Natural Language Processing.
The discussant will be Prof. Robert Wintemute, Professor of Human Rights Law at The Dickson Poon School of Law, King's College London.
About the series
This seminar is part of the Law & Economics Workshop series. The King's Law & Economic Workshop, directed by Dr Angela Huyue Zhang, is a forum devoted to discussing the latest research in law and economics featuring both external and internal speakers. The Workshop aims to promote interdisciplinary research, and to foster collaboration between law professors and scholars from other disciplines.
Anyone with a keen interest in law and economics is welcome, yet potential attendees should bear in mind that we prefer to commence substantive conversation as quickly as possible without much in the way of presentation by the guest. Taking a look at the paper in advance is, therefore, advisable.