AI in courts paves way for efficiency, consistency in China

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2018 is said to be the year of artificial intelligence (AI) for many industries. In China, AI is making a big impact in the legal industry, where there are some significant developments in the judicial system.

What this means for parties litigating in China? Parties litigating in China will see substantial benefits. Among other things, the AI advancements will help improve efficiencies across the court system and allow increased access to litigation services. Most importantly, the use of AI to provide guidance and predict potential outcomes will assist in managing litigation risks. By using AI to assist judges in analyzing previous decisions and comparing evidence, parties can also be assured of greater certainty and consistency in judicial decisions.

AI IN CHINESE COURTS

Encouraging smart courts. The Supreme People’s Court (SPC) has issued the Opinions on Accelerating Building of Smart Courts, which encourages local courts to use AI to:

  1. Provide litigation and legal literacy services for the general public; and
  2. Support judges in minimizing the burden of non-judicial matters in an effort to boost smart courts.

AI robots providing litigation guidance. Local courts in nine provincial-level regions, including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong, have officially launched new AI-powered robots in their litigation services to assist with public access to manuals on litigation and judicial procedures, as well as to provide basic information on judges and court clerks. The AI-powered robots are also capable of automatically generating civil complaints for the plaintiff.

Providing litigation risk analysis. AI robots in Beijing, Shanghai and Jiangsu are capable of evaluating possible litigation outcomes for a party before the case is filed. Such evaluation is based on analyzing more than 7,000 Chinese laws and the numerous court decisions saved within its system.

AI robots are also able to suggest other modes of dispute resolution to parties seeking to commence litigation. For example, the robots may suggest that parties consider conciliation or proceed with other dispute resolution methods such as arbitration if an arbitration clause is in place.

Electronic case submissions. The Shanghai and Henan courts have set up AI services terminals to scan and submit case files electronically, expediting the process of evidence submission and classification, although the originals of documents will still be required.

Electronic submissions can also speed up the transfer of case files between different courts, especially for appeal cases in which the first instance court must transfer the case files to the appeal court.

Trial recording. Local courts in Shanghai, Zhejiang and three other provinces in China have introduced an AI speech recognition system to achieve automatic real-time recording of trial proceedings, replacing the need for
court clerks.

The AI speech recognition system is capable of automatically distinguishing the voices of judges, plaintiffs, defendants and other litigation participants, and recording the trial as synchronously as possible so that litigation participants can view the real-time hearing transcript.

It is expected that the AI speech recognition system will be expanded to cover judicial meetings and judicial committee meetings.

AI-assisted judicial system. The Shanghai Higher People’s Court is piloting the establishment of an AI-assisted judicial system, which is capable of analyzing and automatically collating similarly decided court cases for judges’ reference.

The system is capable of conducting deviation analysis on draft judgments by comparing relevant evidence with evidence in prior decisions. This will help judges maintain consistency in their judicial practice. The criminal case system has been established already, while the civil and administrative case systems are still under pilot.

Business Law Digest is compiled with the assistance of Baker McKenzie. Readers should not act on this information without seeking professional legal advice. You can contact Baker McKenzie by e-mailing Danian Zhang (Shanghai) at danian.zhang@bakermckenzie.com