International Research Collaboratives

Judges and Technology

Organizers

Tania Sourdi, Brian Barr, Toby Goldbach

Judges in jurisdictions around the world are grappling with technological change and the potential impact that this may have both on their role and also on the justice sector more generally. This was the case even before the outbreak of COVID-19; but the novel coronavirus pandemic has shone a bright light on the various ways courts are technologically behind and thus ill-equipped to deal with disruptions to the normal course of business.  Technology can support courts by enabling judges to more effectively manage their work, engage remotely and in some cases support litigants and others in terms of commencing actions and preparing matters for hearing. Technology can ensure that the important educative and facilitative roles that judges play can be enhanced and to some extent broadened.  Some technological changes are more disruptive, often linked to advances in sophisticated AI that has the capacity to fundamentally alter the judicial role, raising concerns about judicial independence and the development of legal doctrine. The appearance of AI in decision-making also raises questions about data bias and the extent to which humans should be engaged in justice system design and decision-making. The push for technology at court challenges the innovation readiness in the context of judges and the justice system more generally that can be linked to the capacity of judges to engage in discussions that are linked to the development of more sophisticated ethical requirements, particularly in the context of disruptive technological developments. Jurisdictions around the world are adopting technologies in different ways, emphasizing the need for truly transnational collaborative research projects.

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