Building Decision Support Systems to Support Legal Negotiation

J. Zeleznikow (UK), E. Bellucci, and J. Hodgkin (Australia)


Information Technology, Decision Support, Legal Negotiation, Multicriteria Decision Making


It has been claimed that there are three main methods for modeling negotiation, namely: 1)Game theory; 2)Heuristics; and 3)Argumentation based approaches. We have used all three techniques to building negotiation support systems in Australian Family Law. This paper addresses one of the Decision Support Systems (DSS) developed, namely Family_Winner. Mediators often encourage disputants to resolve their conflict through the use of compromises and trade-offs. In Family_Winner, tradeoffs are made by addressing issues that may be conflicting. Two points are significant, but counter intuitive: 1) The more issues and sub-issues in dispute, the easier it is to form trade-offs and hence reach a negotiated agreement; 2) We choose as the first issue to resolve, the issue on which the disputants are furthest apart - one wants it greatly, the other considerably less so. Family_Winner was developed primarily for use in Australian Family Law. However this does not inhibit its use in other negotiation domains.

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