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English judges get first-ever guidance on artificial intelligence

Post Time:2023-12-12 Source:Reuters Author: Sam Tobin Views:

LONDON, Dec 12 (Reuters) - Judges in England and Wales can use generative artificial intelligence systems like OpenAI's ChatGPT for basic work tasks but must not use chatbots to conduct legal research or undertake legal analysis, according to guidance issued on Tuesday.

Judges were also warned about signs that legal arguments may have been prepared by an AI chatbot, as has already happened in the United States and recently in Britain.

The guidance issued by the judiciary said references to unfamiliar or even bogus cases and parties citing different bodies of case law on the same legal issue may indicate the use of AI.

Geoffrey Vos, who is Head of Civil Justice in England and Wales, said the guidance was the first of its kind in the jurisdiction.

He told reporters at a briefing before the guidance was published that AI "provides great opportunities for the justice system".

"But, because it is so new, we need to make sure that judges at all levels understand what it does, how it does it and what it cannot do," he added.

Vos said judges were well equipped to distinguish between genuine legal arguments and those prepared using AI, as well as the potential use of so-called deepfakes as evidence.

"Judges are trained to decide what is true and what is false and they are going to have to do that in the modern world of AI just as much as they had to do that before," he said.

Vos – who told Reuters in March that lawyers have nothing to fear from AI – also said the technology could be used to resolve low-level disputes, though the prospect is distant.

Asked if AI could help reduce the backlog in the English justice system, Vos said: "I rule nothing out as to what may be possible."

But he said people and businesses currently would not have confidence in AI being used to determine disputes.

"We cannot go and introduce AI-driven decision-making until we are absolutely sure that the people we serve would have confidence in that approach," Vos said. "We are miles away from that."