April 19, 2024
UK Judges’ New Guidance Unveiled

UK Senior Judges Issue AI Guidance for Courts: Balancing Potential and Caution

A quartet of senior judges in the UK have issued advice for using artificial intelligence (AI) within courts and tribunals. Released on Dec. 12, the guidance is aimed at judges, tribunal panel members, and magistrates in England and Wales, intending to both inform and caution these court officials.

While the guidance acknowledges AI’s potential benefits, particularly in administrative tasks like text summarization, presentations, and email drafting, Sir Geoffrey Vos, England’s second-most senior judge, highlighted the need for comprehensive understanding among judges due to AI’s novelty in the justice system.

Despite acknowledging AI’s potential, the guidance advises caution, emphasizing the risk of misinformation generated by AI searches and summaries and urging judges to be wary of AI-produced content under their names. It particularly discourages using AI for legal research and analysis, citing the potential for inaccuracies, incompleteness, or outdated information in AI-generated content. The guidance also notes the influence of US laws on many AI systems, potentially misrepresenting English law.

As of now, judges in England and Wales are not mandated to disclose their preparatory work before issuing judgments, as highlighted in the guidance. The issuing judges see this advice as the initial phase of efforts to aid judicial interactions with AI. Plans involve surveys and avenues for questions from the judiciary in both courts and tribunals.

This guidance follows the UK’s inaugural AI Safety Summit at the beginning of November, where global officials, tech company leaders in AI development, and influential figures convened to discuss AI’s future safety. Additionally, on Dec. 8, the European Union finalized its landmark AI regulation, covering aspects like governmental use, transparency requirements, and the regulation of powerful AI models like ChatGPT.

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