‘Access to Judgments and Justice Data’ workshop

Oxford, 6 March 2020—Members of the AI4Law research team hosted a workshop at the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights to discuss pressing issues concerning access to judgments and justice data in the United Kingdom. The workshop was attended by representatives from key stakeholders, including the government, the judiciary, the Law Society, the Bar Council, legal publishing industry, charity sector, policymakers, and academia. The event was held as part of WP2 (Mapping Digital Justice) and WP3 (Frontiers of AI in Legal Reasoning) research streams of the AI for English Law project.

After an introduction to the project’s aims, members of the team presented ongoing work on AI analysis of judgment data, discussing the availability court judgment data in the context of the Employment Tribunal, as well as the legal opportunities and constraints in designing a data infrastructure to accompany the digitalisation of justice with representatives from key stakeholder bodies. After a lively discussion, it became clear that judgments and justice data are not easily accessible for research purposes, let alone for commercial use. More, the data which are available—though not necessarily accessible—represent only part of the whole body of case law in the United Kingdom, which poses further difficulties.

To engage the workshop participants with our research findings, open discussion was allowed both after the presentations and in a separate session before the end of the workshop. One of the core themes of the discussion was the need to establish a common ground for the key parameters of maximising the impact of analysing judgments and other justice data, reflecting on the capacity and responsibility of the organisations managing relevant datasets. Considering the breadth of expertise and backgrounds of the involved stakeholders, attendees offered their views on the prerequisites of designing an effective and efficient governance system that will be founded upon the principles of privacy, security and accuracy to conform with legal and ethical requirements.

A report with following this workshop and including our results and recommendations will be released later this year.