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/.

New Report Examines Pathways to Justice in British Columbia

The Access to Justice Centre for Excellence at the University of Victoria (UVic ACE) has published new research that examines the pathways that people in British Columbia take to solve their civil justice problems. Understanding what people do when they experience a serious civil justice problem and the pathways that are accessible to them to resolve those problems offers important insights into people’s legal awareness and the impact of public legal education and information for the public. It also provides understandings on how people engage with the justice system. In addition, the increased use of technology in the legal sector is transforming how people interact with the legal system and requires further study to understand the impacts for existing pathways and the new pathways that will become available.

The “Navigating Access to Justice Pathways” report includes findings from an exploratory study of experiences with civil and family law problems in British Columbia that aims to:

  • Develop a more robust understanding of how people define the civil and family law justice problems they experience
  • Map common pathways used to resolve civil and family justice problems
  • Identify the barriers people face when they try to access certain pathways and the impact of those barriers on their decisions
  • Understand how people prioritize and manage multiple legal problems

Navigating Access to Justice Pathways: Problem Resolution Routes for People Experiencing Civil and Family Law Problems in British Columbia by Yvon Dandurand, Jessica Jahn, Cathy Tait, and Megan Capp is available online here: https://ajrndotco.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/5876c-navigatingaccesstojusticepathways_ace_april20_2022.pdf.

Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario Report Examines the Impacts of Shift to Online Hearings

A new report by the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario (ACTO) examines how the move from in-person to online hearings is impacting low-income tenants across Ontario. “Digital Evictions: The Landlord and Tenant Board’s Experiment in Online Hearings” discusses the challenges and consequences for tenants who do not have access to reliable internet and phone services for their hearings. The report also indicates that the shift to online hearings may have disproportionate adverse impacts for rural and remote households, tenants whose first language is not English, people with mental health issues, and people who are illiterate or innumerate.

The ACTO report explores data from several sources, including surveys of digital hearings that were carried out across Ontario from March to May, 2021 and reveals several drawbacks to participation in a virtual hearing by video or phone. The report also highlights ACTO’s concern that the digital first approach to hearings will continue post pandemic. “Digital Evictions: The Landlord and Tenant Board’s Experiment in Online Hearings” is available on the ACTO website here: https://www.acto.ca/production/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Digital-Evictions-ACTO.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 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.

New Report Highlights Role of Innovation in Bridging Justice Gap

The international Task Force on Justice is an initiative that launched in 2018 to help tackle the global access to justice crisis – a problem that currently sees more than four billion people around the world living outside the protection of the law. This week, the Task Force’s Innovation Working Group published “Innovating Justice: Needed & Possible”, a report that explores ways that innovation can help to address unmet legal needs, the investment possibilities that justice innovation provides, and parameters for increasing and improving justice innovation in support of UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16.3 – equal access to justice for all.  The report offers examples of new technologies as well as technological upgrades that can help to advance access to justice and also calls for financing justice innovation.

“Innovating Justice: Needed & Possible”, the report of the Innovation Working Group of the Task Force on Justice is available online here: https://www.hiil.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Report-of-the-Innovation-Working-Group-of-the-Task-Force-on-Justice.pdf.

Cyberjustice Laboratory launches major “Autonomy through Cyberjustice Technologies” Research Project

The Cyberjustice Laboratory (Laboratoire de Cyberjustice) in Montreal has launched a 6-year research initiative to examine artificial intelligence in the justice sector. This Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) funded project includes 16 sub-projects, and a multi-disciplinary and international team of 45 researchers and 42 partners.

The Autonomy through Cyberjustice Technologies (ACT) research project by the Cyberjustice Laboratory will provide greater understanding of the socio-legal and ethical underpinnings of applying and integrating artificial intelligence tools within the justice system. More information about this important research initiative, being led Professor Karim Benyekhlef, Direcor of the Cyberjustice Laboratory, is available in the press release, available in English here: http://cyberjustice.openum.ca/files/sites/102/PressReleaseACT.pdf, and in French here: http://www.cyberjustice.ca/files/sites/102/CommuniqueAJC-VFinale.pdf. Visit the Autonomy through Cyberjustice Technologies (ACT) website here: https://www.ajcact.org/.

New Report Examines the Role of Assisted Digital Support Services for Civil Justice System Users in the UK

The recently published “Assisted Digital Support for Civil Justice System Users: Demand, Design, & Implementation” report offers insight into the use of ‘assisted digital support’ (ADS) to facilitate access to online civil justice services among low-income earners, the elderly, people living in social housing and people without degrees in the UK. The report indicates that ADS services, including face-to-face assistance and web chat can be useful for engaging people online. The report also recommends additional research into whether or to what extent ADS services are helpful for people without “legal capability”. Quoting the report, this article highlights the following: “That users undertake a range of activities online is not to say that they have the capability to undertake legal processes online”.

“Assisted Digital Support for Civil Justice System Users: Demand, Design, & Implementation” was prepared for the Civil Justice Council (UK) by Catrina Denvir, with the assistance of Reem Ayad, Nerissa Morales Cordoba, Mbeti Michuki, Adel Msolly and Annie Wood. The full report can be accessed here: https://www.judiciary.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/cjc-report-on-assisted-digital-support.pdf.

“Legal Health Check Up” Tool Boosts Intake for Community Legal Service Clinic

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Halton Community Legal Services in partnership with a group of regional intermediaries recently implemented a web-based Legal Health Check Up (LHC) tool. The online survey has boosted clinic intake numbers by 1/3 since its release by helping users identify legal problems and directing them to the clinic. This report, produced by Ab Currie in partnership with the Canadian Forum for Civil Justice (CFCJ) further explains the project.