I am taking part in one of the sessions of the AI day at the IBA 2018 programme in Rome. My invitation comes from Marcus Dearle, a partner at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner in Hong Kong and Vice Chair of the IBA’s Family Law Committee.
The program description reads as follows:
This session will examine the opportunities for using technology and/or artificial intelligence (AI) in family cases. Expanding the boundaries: can technology be used to increase efficiency and reduce costs in the drafting of prenuptial agreements? Can predictive coding algorithms be used in cases involving millions of disclosure documents in financial remedy cases?
My focus will inevitably be on the last sentence, about using predictive coding algorithms to sift large volumes of disclosure documents. The specific context, financial remedy cases, is not much different (in this respect) from all those other cases in jurisdictions around the world (and specifically in common law jurisdictions) where the evidence lies in documents too voluminous to read.
The “alternative facts” part of our heading also offers scope for examples of cases (not necessarily in family law) where evidence given by a witness may look rather different when social media, photographs and other material are examined properly.
Although the master subject for the day is artificial intelligence, our description covers wider uses of technology, and I am, in any event, willing to take a very wide definition of artificial intelligence in addressing this subject.
Court-driven obligations to disclose documents are not the only reason why it might be necessary or helpful to apply technology to find key documents or, at least, to relegate those which don’t matter. My last talk in a civil jurisdiction was in Italy, in Milan with Accuracy in May (I wrote about that here). My pitch there was that we need to use technology in any circumstances where it is necessary to extract meaningful information from the mass of data, and there is no reason why that should not apply equally to family law as to anything else, and whether or not in the context of a dispute.
Are there any specific subjects or points which are peculiar to the family law jurisdiction going beyond the principles which apply in any document-heavy case? I am aware of Tchenguiz v Imerman on the slightly different point about “self-help disclosure” as between spouses and the so-called “Hildebrand rules”, but the fact that computers were used to abstract personal documents does not really make that particular issue one about AI, still less one about using technology to control large volumes of data (though I believe that the case itself, distinct from the Hildebrand point, did involve masses of documents and may come up in our session).
I am interested to hear from anyone with experience in family law who thinks there are other subjects worth bringing under the umbrella of our session description.