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“AI-Computer Clara as a judge in an Online Court – The scenario of the future?”

I think we all agree that the pandemic crisis is a digital ground zero in a way. We experienced the first approaches with video transmissions in court and saw the possibility to reduce the number of participants in a court hearing.

But where does that lead us? Should we continue and expand the idea of online courts by using modern tools like video calls to reduce costs and give up on hearings in person?

Before we can answer this question, we must ask another question:

Is the court a place or a service and do we really need a physically meeting to resolve differences?

As always the answer is: it depends.

Actually, in my opinion, “the court” is a service in the first place, but can this service be provided in the same way online?

It cannot be dismissed that traditional court buildings have a unique impact on the participants of a court proceeding: the robes, the architecture, the big premises and the raised position of the judge in the middle of the two parties lead to a certain humility… but do we need that to resolve differences? I do not think so. If you ask clients, if they would prefer an online hearing or a hearing in person in court, they would probably say: not only the costs, but the stress reduces by not going to court. Shouldn’t the focus lie on the satisfaction of the clients and citizens? Of course, the judges’ daily work would also improve by being easily connected to other courts and being locally unbound. So isn’t that a win-win situation?

Perhaps we can come to the same conclusion here, but could we agree on a common answer to the question of whether AI-computers should replace judges or lawyers?

When we introduce ourselves to the image of a computer who is the judge for our legal problem, we see a machine, which is fed with the facts of the case and relevant case law, so it can eject a result. Especially in mass proceedings, this would be a good approach to relieve the courts.

But what is the decision-making process based on? Is there not missing some intermediate step which enables the party to file an appeal?

Another scenario would be the implementation of AI in a program, which replaces the expensive lawyer: with the help of an AI-Chatbot the claimant or defendant could argue based on instructions from the AI. But it’s not as simple as that if we think about the constitution of a court and the admission to the bar:

Is AI allowed in court? and don’t the data sets need to be checked before using, like a lawyer is checked in his exam?

However, there is a high chance to see AI implemented in a phone of the claimant or the defendant in certain court proceedings – like e.g. traffic accidents – in the next few years. Or will the lack of liability on the part of the AI stop citizens from using this program?

After all the questions which have been raised, you maybe leave this article with a feeling of uncertainty and skepticism – therefore I can give you the advice to think of all good tech-achievements from the past years which led us to a better world.

And this time, it could lead the citizens to more access to justice – what a good outlook for the future.


Paula Bick