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Lookup NU author(s): Dr Massimo Strano
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In the business world, contracts are used to regulate business interactions between trading parties. When business transactions are conducted over an electronic channel, electronic forms of contracts are needed; and because of the additional capabilities of an electronic means, their function can be extended to include compliance checking for the interactions of the parties, and enforcement of contractual clauses when needed. A contract is assumed to be a document that stipulates a list of clauses stating rights, obligations and prohibitions, and their associated constraints, that business partners are expected to honour. Compliance checking is taken to mean checking if business operations executed by business partners match with their rights, obligations and prohibitions as stipulated in the contract. We intend enforcement as making sure that business operations match the rights, obligations, and prohibitions of the parties, possibly compensating for deviations from expected behaviour. In traditional business interactions, compliance checking and enforcement are carried out man- ually. With electronic business interactions, such tasks can ideally be automated. This requires a model for the process of checking contract compliance, and an electronic language for the specifica- tion of the actual contract. The first main contribution of this thesis is such a model. The EROP model (from Events, Rights, Obligations and Prohibitions), composed of an ontology and an architecture, observes the interactions between the business partners, forms an interpretation of their outcome from a neutral perspective and checks their contractual compliance by matching executed operations with their sets of rights, obligations, and prohibitions, and reacting accordingly to them. Implementations of the EROP ontology and of an experimental prototype of the architecture are also presented. The second main contribution of this thesis is the EROP language, designed to specify contractual compliance, and to regulate execution of business operations through the manipulation of the sets of rights, obligations and prohibitions of the business partners. The EROP language is rule-based and event-driven, and, in a similar fashion to contracts in natural language, contractual clauses are expressed as business rules, conditional statements associating events and conditions to lists of actions altering the rights, obligations and prohibitions of the participants. The practicality of the approach taken with the EROP language is evaluated presenting a larger, complete scenario and a number of smaller ones taken from comparable work. Notes on the translation of the EROP language to one on a lower level of abstraction that relies on the implementation of the EROP ontology are also presented. The Appendix presents a formal grammar for the language.
Author(s): Strano M
Publication type: Report
Publication status: Published
Institution: School of Computing Science, University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Place Published: Newcastle upon Tyne