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Managing Inter-Organizational Business Policies & Practices

This use case is about two things:

Some rules that support business policies and practices cannot be immediately executed by a rules execution IT system. They need something from a person, e.g. a decision or confirmation of an action, before the rules execution system can deal with them.

For example, at the end of a EU-Rent rental, the car may be left at, say, an airport car park rather than at the EU-Rent branch designated in the rental contract. EU-Rent calls this an “off-site return”. There are rules to deal with it. Two of them are:

When rules arrive via its RIF client, EU-Rent’s rules execution system needs to be able to recognize which ones can be immediately executed, and which have first to be routed for some human action. This will require an item of RIF metadata to indicate whether an incoming rule is immediately executable or not.

To deal with the human side of rules, where required actions might not be carried out, the use case needs two deontic operators - obligation and permission - for rules such as:

Note that some deontic rules are directly handled by the IT system. For example:

It could be that on occasional days there aren’t enough cars. There were in the plans when rental bookings were taken, but some customers have not returned their cars on time, some cars have been damaged, some have higher mileage than anticipated and need servicing, etc. etc. The rules execution system cannot resolve the real-world problem, but has to report the failure to comply with the rule.

Rules about rules are also needed. For example:

The IT system could maintain ‘smoking status’ for buildings, and require reporting of “no smoking” notices after building inspections.

One requirement for rules about rules is for enforcement of deontic rules, in the form: “It is obligatory that if an obligation is not met, a consequence will ensue”. For example, suppose that the rule above was named the "no smoking notices" rule. Then:

This gives us a rule about a rule about a rule.

The RIF will have capability to exchange fact bases between organizations, so that what they mean by “customer”, “rental car”, “customer rents car”, “rented car is picked up from branch”, etc. is consistent when they apply exchanged rules to these concepts and fact types. Given a fact base, this use case needs two alethic operators - necessity and possibility - to structure it. For example:

It’s likely that each of these would be split into distinct atomic rules for the rule execution system.

Exchange of rules between organizations also requires rule sets. Organizations have many rules and need to manage them at a broader level than individual rules. Typically, rules are grouped into sets around events, e.g. “At rental pick-up time …”, or around concepts, regardless of events, e.g. “A rental car …”

Since the use case is about interchange of rules that support business policy and practice, it would be valuable for the RIF to support the kinds of rules that would be expressed in SBVR. The following six types (using SBVR terms for the rule categories) should do it, although they will probably need to be expressed in FOL to satisfy everyone in the RIF WG:

Summary of Requirements

This use case needs the following


This scenario uses the (fictitious) car rental company, EU-Rent, used as the SBVR case study. The EU legislation discussed is also fictitious.

EU-Rent’s corporate HQ deals with Carwise, a consultancy company with expertise in managing fleets of vehicles. One service Carwise offers is negotiating with EU regulators to clarify regulation and then providing relevant rules to its customers.

An EU regulator issues a directive dealing with insurance for vehicles owned by companies. One of the rules Carwise provides to EU-Rent is:

As well as insuring the rentals, EU-Rent has to maintain insurance schedules as proof that it has done so. It decides that it will maintain them electronically. Carwise provides EU-Rent with rules for electronic signatures for insurance schedules, e.g.

EU-Rent HQ decides to include third-party insurance in the basic price of each rental so that there is no possibility that it can be omitted. HQ provides rules to EU-Rent operating companies within EU countries:

It also provides the rules for electronic compliance (obtained from Carwise) to the operating companies.

EU-Rent operating companies also use consulting companies for expertise within their countries. In the UK, Autolaw provides EU-Rent with the rules for placing aggregate insurance for fleets of vehicles:

Autolaw also provides the rules for calculating tax liability for aggregated insurance, e.g.: