Senior judge predicts AI will transform the role of experts

A leading judge has told expert witnesses they will not be replaced by AI despite the courts enthusiastically embracing its increasing use.

Speaking at the Expert Witness Institute conference on Friday, senior president of tribunals Sir Keith Lindblom said the advent of artificial support was not to be feared but instead should be welcomed for the ‘immense opportunities’ it presents.

Lindblom said AI would be used every day by courts and tribunals and that experts giving evidence would have to adapt to become overseers and quality controllers of what it produced.

‘That the role of expert witnesses will be reduced to merely interpreting the findings of our AI overlords is not a prospect I would accept,’ he said. ‘But it would be wrong to think that AI will have only a marginal impact on the role of expert witnesses.’

Lindblom said he had asked ChatGPT ahead of his speech whether AI would replace experts. Not surprisingly, he suggested, the system believed it could do much of the work not just of experts but of lawyers and judges too.

Despite reports of judges being dismayed by litigants using AI to produce false case references, Lindblom predicted that experts in future will ‘undoubtedly’ rely on artificial technology to prepare their evidence. Some of this would have to be circumspect where there were confidential details being fed into the system, but closed chat bots would offer greater security to reduce any risk.

The president said AI would improve the quality and consistency of expert reports, particularly where they are dealing with technological or scientific evidence.

Used suitably, he suggested, AI could work out which cases were suitable for online dispute resolution and accurately predict outcomes so that parties could settle cases without them going to court.

‘It does not mean expert witnesses are going to be redundant,’ he added. ‘Courts and tribunals will rely on experts with a solid understanding of the new technology if they are going to ensure justice is done.

‘It is the accountability and intelligent rigour of expert witnesses in the assistance they give that makes them indispensable to the administration of justice.’

Lindblom’s embrace of AI echoed that of master of the rolls Sir Geoffrey Vos, who told a conference earlier this year that the ‘simple fact is that we would not be properly serving either the interests of justice or access to justice if we did not embrace the use of new technologies for the benefit of those we serve’.

Vos urged ‘serious caution’ about using generative AI for legal advice and court submissions, but said that litigation clients would want to tap into the data available and know what an AI thought as to their prospects of success.


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