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  • Writer's pictureDavid Ravenscroft

AI in the realm of courts: unacceptable or imaginable?

There are few more topical subjects than Artificial Intelligence (‘AI’). Whether in the fields of industrial processes, business, investment, medicine or warfare (to take just a few examples) there is almost daily speculation as to what AI will shortly be able to do. Not least amongst the speculation is the fearful prediction that before too long machines will control humans.

Author: David Ravenscroft, Senior Consultant

With our past articles on the integration of AI in the legal profession and the Rise of LegalTech already some time behind us, we thought it time to revisit the topic. How will AI affect the law and that most conservative of professions, the legal profession?

At one end of the spectrum is the thought that justice will be taken out of the hands of fallible judges and juries and instead decided by cold, heartless machines. Whatever the capacity of AI to fulfil the role of a judge, it is unlikely that humans will soon allow AI to rule on the guilt or innocence of those accused of committing a crime. Even in cases where the decision is more technical, for example an intellectual property infringement, humans will likely be slow to allow unsupervised machines to make a decision of right or wrong.


At the more practical level, does AI have a role to play in the more mundane fields of legal practice, for example discovery, drafting pleadings or legal research? A visit to the Hong Kong Supreme Court library or other legal libraries around the world housing thousands of books would suggest there is ample scope for the time-saving use of AI.


Using AI’s speed in eDiscovery

One of the most likely fields where AI may be used, and indeed already is being used, is that vital part of litigation: discovery. eDiscovery, as it is called, comes into play when litigation becomes likely and huge amounts of data are identified, collected and preserved for the purposes of that litigation. Thereafter, and this is when AI comes into play, rather than have humans read through the voluminous documents, data analysis and analytics technologies are used to scan the material, eliminate irrelevant and highlight potentially important data. Thus, it would seem, AI is already being used to save vast amounts of man hours in the litigation process.


By analogy AI should be able to scour the vast library of reported legal cases to identify precedents that would be most useful for the facts of a particular case. Critical for that purpose will be for the yet still evolving capability of AI to gain a true legal understanding. Notwithstanding that ChatGPT has a record of making up facts you would have thought that the next version could be programmed to make sure it uses only the genuine cases that can be found in the library.


Legal drafting of documents and pleadings is very often case-specific but there are parts that are completely routine, when it is necessary to provide for something that has been said many times before. There is a complete volume of ‘Forms & Precedents’ devoted solely to providing examples of ‘boiler-plate’ clauses. Those who qualified many decades ago will remember warnings about the thoughtless use of precedents, but they save time and give the confidence that comes from using something that has already been tried and tested.


It is possible to buy a completed landlord and tenant agreement where it is only necessary to fill in the names of the parties and the bare bones of the agreement such as the rent and the length of the tenancy. It is not difficult to imagine that soon AI will be used to assist drafting at a much more sophisticated level.


In a future newsletter we will consider in more detail what other AI developments that affect the legal profession may be on the horizon.


Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this article, it is general in nature and does not constitute legal advice of any kind. You should seek your own personal legal advice before taking legal action. We accept no liability whatsoever for loss arising out of the use or misuse of this article.

For specific advice about your situation, please contact:

Senior Consultant

+852 2388 3899


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