03 Jul 2020

Data Science for Society Seminar: Using Machine Learning to Extract Key Meta-Data from Legal Text in Malawi

Amelia Taylor

Talk Details


Malawi faces a serious problem when it comes to law reporting and legal research. On one hand are the issues of accessibility and the availability and the scattered nature of the official reports. On the other hand are the challenges coming from the fact that the current document structure of Malawi legal text, e.g., court judgments, does not support a system of citation that makes it possible to link statutory law, case law and secondary law or to search by “legal terms” and their specific interpretations. This research tackles the specific problem of classifying court judgments disseminated by the High Court Library. The court judgments disseminated via the Malawi High Court Library are not classified according to useful categories, such as courts, topics of the law, statues they refer to. They do not have an index and the structure of the documents is not uniform. The internal structure of judgments impacts the efficiency of a search. The aim of this research was to develop a methodology for a semi-automatic classification of judgments disseminated by the High Court Library of the Malawi Judiciary with the purpose of enabling ‘intelligent searching’ within this body of knowledge. In this talk, we will discuss the processes involved in this research, challenges and opportunities.

Speaker Bio

Amelia graduated with a PhD in Mathematical Logic from Heriot-Watt University in 2006 where I was part of the ULTRA group. After that she worked as a research assistant on a project with Heriot-Watt University and the Royal Observatory in Edinburgh, aiming at developing an intelligent query language for astronomical data. From 2006 to 2013, Amelia also worked in finance in the City of London and Edinburgh - she built risk models for asset allocation and liability-driven investments. For the last 5 years, Amelia has been teaching programming and AI courses at the University of Malawi in the CIT and engineering department. Amelia also teaches research methodology and supervise MSc and PhD students. While my first interest in AI as an undergraduate was in the field of Natural Language Processing and intelligent query systems, she is interested in the other use of technology and AI for solving real-world problems. Amelia is always excited to learn and try new approaches and technologies such as virtual reality. Amelia is married and with3 children. Her husband grew up in Malawi. She loves travelling, people. culture and encourages everyone to come and see the beauty of Malawi.


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