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what could AI mean for legal services?

25 October 2016
Researchers at University College London, Sheffield University and Pennsylvania University have used artificial intelligence (AI) to correctly predict the outcomes of cases heard in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) with 79% accuracy.

AI is slowly being adopted across the legal sector, largely to aid with research and document analysis with the ultimate goal being improved efficiency and accuracy. Commentators note that AI is not yet able to understand the detailed nuances of a legal case, and the researchers themselves say the technology does not spell the end for lawyers. However, with AI able to accurately predict the outcomes of nearly 80% of cases more sophisticated applications appear to be on the way.

The cost of litigation continues to be an issue for many litigants, and the UK courts have shown a willingness to innovate to reduce the time and cost of dispute resolution, going back to the Woolf reforms and more recent developments such as the Shorter Trial Scheme. There are clear benefits to be had from using AI in the UK courts, but could we really be approaching a time where first instance decisions are made without the need for a human judge? Perhaps not in our lifetime, but only time will tell.

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