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7th annual Civil Justice Council National Forum on access to justice for those without means

On invitation Jos Hoevenaars attended the 7th annual Civil Justice Council National Forum on access to justice for those without means taking place in London on 7 December 2018. The full day forum brought together members from across the British advice and pro bono sector, courts and tribunals, government, the legal profession, universities (UK and abroad), charities, foundations and institutions to discuss the current state of the legal aid sector in the jurisdictions of the United Kingdom. The day saw some 20 different speakers as well as several in-depth breakout session in which divergent subjects such as funding, technology, the need for data collection and analysis, and the intersection between legal needs and mental health were discussed among the over 200 participants in more detail.

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Published: May 25, 2018

On 24 May 2018 an expert roundtable took place at the Erasmus University Rotterdam entitled ‘The use of artificial intelligence in legal decision-making’. This Roundtable was organized by Dr. Erlis Themeli, Dr. Stefan Philipsen, and Prof. Evert Stamhuis with the support of the Erasmus Initiative Dynamics of Inclusive Prosperity. The experts attending the event came from the legal practice, government, academia, and ICT sector. The aim of the roundtable was to map the developments in and research on the use of AI in legal decision-making, and to outline a research agenda for the near future. Prof. Stefano Puntoni (Rotterdam School of Management) and Prof. Xandra Kramer were invited to provide some ‘food for thought’ for the participants and to contribute to the discussion.

AI is one the frontiers of the digitalization of justice. It has the potential to increase access to justice and to improve the position of vulnerable parties. However, AI remains complex and its use in the application of justice carries the risk of creating a ‘black-box’ without transparency or accountability. As was pointed out in the Roundtable, the use of AI in legal decision-making creates legal, economic, as well as ethical dilemmas. What would happen if the judge is a machine? Is there a right to a human judge? What is the added value of a human judge? Is it possible to fully comprehend the decisions of a machine? These questions form the outline of a future research agenda into the use of AI in legal decision-making.

Considering the success of the event, the organizers plan to develop a theoretical framework and to design an empirical research on the reception of automated decision-making by court users.