Modelling judicial context in argumentation frameworks

Adam Wyner, Trevor Bench-Capon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Much work using argumentation frameworks (AFs) treats arguments as entirely abstract, related by a uniform attack relation that always succeeds unless the attacker can itself be defeated. However, this does not seem adequate for legal argumentation. Some proposals have suggested regulating attack relations using preferences or values on arguments and that filter the attack relation, so that, depending on the audience addressed, some attacks fail and so can be removed from the framework. This does not, however, capture a central feature of legal reasoning: how a decision with respect to the same facts and legal reasoning varies as the judicial context varies. Nor does it capture related context-dependent features of legal reasoning, such as how an audience can prefer or value an argument, yet be constrained by precedent or authority not to accept it. Nor does it explain how certain types of attack may not be allowed in a particular procedural context. For this reason, evaluation of the status of arguments within a given framework must be allowed to depend not only on the attack relations along with the preference or value of arguments, but also on the nature of the attacks and the context in which they are made. We present a means to represent these features, enabling us to account for a number of factors currently considered to be beyond the remit of formal AFs. We give several examples of the use of approach including: appealing a case, overruling a precedent and rehearing of a case as a civil rather than criminal proceeding.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)941-968
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Logic and Computation
Issue number6
Early online date26 Mar 2009
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009


  • argumentation
  • legal reasoning
  • precedent
  • precedence
  • procedure


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