Law Commission of Ontario Publishes Major Report on Accountable AI

The Law Commission of Ontario (LCO) has released a third major report examining artificial intelligence (AI) and automated decision-making (ADM) in the Canadian justice system. 

“Accountable AI” analyzes AI and ADM systems used to assist government decision-making, and considers issues of legal accountability when these systems are applied in decision-making in the civil and administrative justice systems.

Key questions explored in the report include:

  • Why and how governments are using AI
  • How AI changes government decision-making
  • The elements of AI regulation
  • How to fulfill the promise of “Trustworthy AI”
  • How to adapt human rights and administrative law to government AI decision-making
  • Ensuring public engagement
  • Improving access to justice

The LCO’s “Accountable AI” report identifies 19 recommendations to address bias in AI systems, “black-box” decision-making, due process, and the need for public engagement.

The final report is available online here: https://www.lco-cdo.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/LCO-Accountable_AI_Final_Report.pdf.

For the LCO’s other reports on AI, ADM and the justice system, visit the LCO website here: https://www.lco-cdo.org/en/our-current-projects/ai-adm-and-the-justice-system/.

Study on the Costs and Benefits of Community-Based Justice in Sierra Leone Makes Important Recommendations for Scaling Up Community Justice Services

On average, it costs users of local, paralegal services in Sierra Leone US $8.44 to access the service, far below what it costs to access the formal justice system. According to a new report on the Costs and Benefits of Community-Based Justice in Sierra Leone, without these community-based justice services, the government would spend approximately US $23.3M to support access to justice services through the formal justice system. This compares with approximately US $18.3M to access community-based justice services. This is among several important findings from a first-of-its-kind study by the Center for Alternative Policy Research & Innovation on The Costs and Benefits of Community-Based Justice in Sierra Leone.

The report makes 10 recommendations for scaling up paralegal-based justice services, including:

  • Establishing a National Legal Empowerment Fund;
  • Funding exploratory research;
  • Further reducing out-of-pocket costs to access community-based justice services;
  • Meaningfully integrating community-based justice services in the broader justice sector; and
  • Building robust and efficient monitoring and evaluation systems.

The Costs and Benefits of Community-Based Justice in Sierra Leone by Felix Marco Conteh, Yakama Manty Jones, Sonkita Conteh, Henry Mbawa and Aisha Fofana Ibrahim (CAPRI) is available online here: https://www.caprisl.org/post/the-costs-and-benefits-of-community-based-justice-in-sierra-leone.

This project was funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and is one of the final research outputs from a multi-country research initiative on Community-Based Justice Research.

Project to Assess Unbundled Legal Services Publishes Phase 1 Report

The Family Law Unbundled Legal Services Research Project (ULSRP) is an initiative by the Access to Justice BC Unbundling Working Group, Family Justice Innovation Lab Society, and Standpoint Decisions Inc. which seeks to examine the effectiveness of family unbundled legal services. The project also aims to “facilitate access to justice by enhancing the working relationships between the existing community of [unbundled legal services] providers and BC citizens most in need of unbundled-type services.”

The project is being conducted in two phases, with the focus of Phase 1 to test and demonstrate the feasibility and benefits of a proposed model for ongoing feedback from unbundled legal services clients. Data collected from this project will help service providers, innovators and policy-makers to assess the effectiveness of unbundled family legal services and better understand the user/client experience. The final report from Phase 1 of the Family Law Unbundled Legal Services Research Project is available here: https://www.bcfamilyinnovationlab.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/ULSRP-Phase-1-Report-2021-12-08-File-No-2020-LLR-3552-no-financials.pdf.

Advocates’ Society Report Discusses the Future of Oral Advocacy in Canada

“The Right to be Heard: The Future of Advocacy in Canada” is a new report by the Advocates’ Society that discusses the future of oral advocacy in Canada’s justice system. The report also examines the history behind the right to be heard, considerations for the mode of hearing, and the impacts that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the justice system.

The Right to be Heard report is the culmination of months of research and consultations with judges, advocates in different practice areas, justice system participants, advocacy groups and others. This initative was led by the Modern Advocacy Task Force, which was established in spring 2020 “to make recommendations with respect to the future of oral advocacy in the Canadian justice system”.

This Final Report of the Modern Advocacy Task Force recognizes improvements made possible by modern technology during the pandemic but cautions that such changes to the justice system “should not be mistaken as a panacea for the grave challenges of access to justice, nor as an adequate replacement for in-person justice in all, or even most, cases.” 

According to the report, there are four core principles that lay the foundation for the Task Force’s recommendations:

  • The open court principle;
  • The imperative of access to justice;
  • The integrity of the court process; and
  • The principle of proportionality

In discussing the significance of the report, former Chief Justice of Canada and member of the Modern Advocacy Advisory Group, The Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin noted that the report “offers a timely examination of the fundamental role of court advocacy in securing justice and how it can be preserved in a digital world.”

“The Right to be Heard: The Future of Advocacy in Canada”, published by the Advocates’ Society, is available here: https://s3.amazonaws.com/tld-documents.llnassets.com/0027000/27521/the_right_to_be_heard_the_future_of_advocacy_in_canada_digital.pdf.

Law Commission of Ontario’s New Paper Explores the use of Artificial Intelligence, Automated Decision-Making and Algorithms in Canada’s Justice System

“Regulating AI: Critical Issues and Choices” is the second in a series of papers by the Law Commission of Ontario (LCO) that seeks to examine the use of artificial intelligence (AI), automated decision-making (ADM) and algorithms in Canada’s justice system. The focus of this paper is on regulatory frameworks for AI and ADM systems that support decision-making. Understanding the implications of AI and ADM systems and how to regulate them has become increasingly important in Canada and throughout the world. This paper contemplates a range of important questions surrounding the regulation of these systems, including: how AI and ADM should be defined for regulatory purposes; how and when governments should be required to disclose their use of AI and ADM; what role “ethical AI” might play in government regulation of AI and ADM; and whether government regulation of AI and ADM should promote innovation and/or human rights.

“Regulating AI: Critical Issues and Choices” by Nye Thomas, Erin Chochla and Susie Lindsay is available on the Law Commission of Ontario’s website here: https://www.lco-cdo.org/en/the-lco-releases-a-new-report-regulating-ai-critical-issues-and-choices/.

New Discussion Paper Highlights the Importance of People-Centered Justice Data

A recently published paper is drawing attention to the need for more people-centered justice data in order to support decision-making by policymakers, funders, innovators and other justice stakeholders. Weak data can serve to undermine progress. Making the shift to more effective justice innovations and facilitating better justice investment strategies requires an understanding of the types of justice problems that people commonly face as well as the ways that these justice problems impact people’s lives. Available justice data does not yet meet these standards. “Grasping the Justice Gap” discusses these and other key messages and offers insights on failing justice data ecosystems and how to build effect data ecosystems for people-centered justice.

Grasping the Justice Gap: Opportunities and Challenges for People-Centered Justice Data by Peter Chapman and published by the World Justice Project and Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies is available online here: https://530cfd94-d934-468b-a1c7-c67a84734064.filesusr.com/ugd/6c192f_33364b9803b645b8a4fa17433edcb13d.pdf.

CBA Report Examines Justice Issues Resulting from the COVID-19 Pandemic

A new report by the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) examines various impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the delivery of legal services in Canada. The report is the result of consultations and research carried out by the specially formed CBA Task Force on Justice Issues Arising from COVID-19.

The “No Turning Back” report includes a discussion of the ways that Canada and other countries are meeting the justice challenges presented by the pandemic through modified processes and other justice system changes. The report also presents a discussion of ways to mitigate risks that might be associated with the adoption of new measures aimed at delivering justice in the midst of the pandemic.

No Turning Back: CBA Task Force Report on Justice Issues Arising from COVID-19 is available online here: https://www.cba.org/CBAMediaLibrary/cba_na/PDFs/Publications%20And%20Resources/2021/CBATaskForce.pdf.

HiiL Report Outlines New Ways Of Thinking About How To Fund Justice

“Charging for Justice” is a new report that explores different ways of thinking about how to fund justice. The report examines how money comes into the justice sector and discusses ways to gain better access to the resources that are necessary to move the dial on equal access to justice for all (UN SDG 16.3).

Millions of people around the world face obstacles to resolve their legal problems, lack necessary protections through the law and are otherwise in unsafe situations that they find difficult to extricate themselves from. The “Charging for Justice” report urges a change in thinking about how to fund justice that is supported by research that demonstrates the far-reaching economic, social, environmental and health benefits of accessible, effective, efficient and well-funded justice services and programs.

Charging for Justice – SDG 16.3 Trend Report 2020 was published by The Hague Institute for Innovation of Law (HiiL) and is available online here: https://www.hiil.org/projects/charging-for-justice/.

New Inventory of Digital Tools To Help Canadian Public Address Their Legal Needs

A new inventory containing information on 88 legal digital tools aims to offer the Canadian public a way to conveniently access information on digital tools to address their legal needs. The inventory, which is currently in draft form, includes information from various areas of law including family, criminal, employment, and immigration. For each tool included in the inventory, information is provided on the cost (including if the tool is free to use), the intended user of the tool, the function, the type of law that it relates to and the developer of the tool. A brief description is also provided for each tool.

The Inventory of Digital Tools was created by Professor Amy Salyzyn (University of Ottawa) and JD students, William Burke and Angela Lee. The development of this inventory builds on previous research by Professors Jena McGill, Suzanne Bouclin, and Amy Salyzyn on the potential use of mobile and web-based applications to improve access to justice. For more information on the Inventory of Digital Tools or to provide feedback, visit the following webpage: https://techlaw.uottawa.ca/direct-public-legal-digital-tools-canada.

Access to Justice Triple Aim Initiative Launches in BC

Leaders from more than 50 justice organizations in British Columbia have signed on to support the newly launched Access to Justice Triple Aim initiative. Endorsing Triple Aim signifies a commitment to working to improve access to civil and family justice in BC in three important ways:

  • Improving access to justice at the population (or sub-population) level
  • Improving the experience of users who need access to justice
  • Improving costs, which includes reducing costs in other sectors because of the benefits of improved access to justice

Access to Justice Triple Aim was convened by Access to Justice BC, a network of justice sector organizations and stakeholders and members of the public connected by a shared vision to advance access to justice in BC. The Triple Aim concept originates from the healthcare sector where improvements in the US healthcare system have similarly been coordinated around three goals – health, cost and care.

The press release for the Access to Justice Triple Aim initiative is available on the Access to Justice BC website here: https://accesstojusticebc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Cross-sector-justice-agreement.pdf. Additional information is also available here: https://accesstojusticebc.ca/2019/06/the-triple-aim-a-cross-sector-vision/ and in a Slaw blog published here: http://www.slaw.ca/2019/06/13/over-50-justice-organizations-agree-to-a-common-access-to-justice-goal-that-puts-user-experience-at-the-centre/.