The Potential of Knowledge-Based Systems in Assisting the Justice System: The Case of Ethiopian Labor Law

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Addis Ababa University


Modern information and communication technology is revolutionizing how courts function, reducing backlogs by speeding up case resolutions and improving citizen access to trial proceedings and disposition. Ethiopia’s system of justice has suffered from long delays that undermined public confidence in the rule of law and imperiled rights granted under the Constitution. Labor law, that governs the employer-employee relationship, is an area which can potentially benefit much from ICT. This study examines the existing practice in the domain of Ethiopian labor law and identifies the most problematic parts of the law. A prototype legal knowledge based system, which is a combination of a rule-based and case-based reasoning mechanism is then developed with the objective of addressing the limitations of the current practice. The knowledge based system provides advice on the most prominent areas of the labor law. This will be very useful for meeting the increasing demands of court clients for speedy and quality decisions. The prototype KBS developed combines a case-based legal reasoning with a rule-based one to address those parts of the law which requires different type of treatment. Areas of the law in which the law provide clear rules to handle cases will be treated using the rule-based module of the system, while the case-based module addresses those areas which are left to the discretion of the judge. The system’s output was tested against that of a set of decided cases. This allowed the system’s reasoning to be tested. Testing indicates that using a rule-based approach to reason with legislation and a case based reasoning to reason with cases is appropriate.



Modern information and communication technology