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UK judges to use AI chatbot despite concerns over credibility issues
Sat, 16th Dec 2023

The legal system in England and Wales is set to employ the ChatGPT chatbot, in spite of concerns that artificial intelligence (AI) is capable of generating fictional cases or legal texts, according to an article in The Daily Telegraph. The Judicial Office has issued official guidance to several thousand judges, detailing how AI can be advantageous for distilling wide volumes of text and for administrative tasks.

The guidance does offer a word of caution stating that chatbots, like ChatGPT, though helpful, make a "poor way of conducting research" due to their tendency towards creating fictitious cases or legal texts. Furthermore, it raises an alarm over the fact that such chatbots, if used extensively by the general public when initiating legal proceedings, could open the door for deepfake technology to create counterfeit evidence.

Nonetheless, the Master of the Rolls, Sir Geoffrey Vos, sees AI as promising in terms of "developing a better, quicker and more cost-effective digital justice system". He emphasised the vital nature of the judiciary's understanding of the technology, stating, "Judges, like everybody else, need to be acutely aware that AI can give inaccurate responses as well as accurate ones."

Sir Geoffrey suggested that wrongful evidence submitted by lawyers aided by a chatbot could result in perjury charges and criminal sanctions. As quoted, he says, "Nothing changes just because they may have got what they said falsely from an AI chatbot instead of out of their own head."

Lord Justice Birss, a senior judge, has previously dubbed ChatGPT as "jolly useful" remarking how he himself utilised it to condense an area of law that he was conversant with and transferred the result into a court ruling. He confirmed that he had incorporated ChatGPT as an experimental manoeuvre, using it as conforming to the guidelines since he did not enter any confidential or delicate information into it.

The CEO of cybersecurity firm RiverSafe, Suid Adeyanju, warned about the rise of AI, saying, "The rise of AI use in legal rulings brings with it great opportunities, but also opens the door to major cyber risks." Meanwhile, Josh Boer, director at tech consultancy firm VeUP, sees AI as the tool to reshape critical functions and provide essential backing to the next generation of SMEs in the UK.