Top judge predicts legal revolution

Technology will revolutionise the practice of law ‘within a generation’, the Chancellor of the High Court said.

Giving the inaugural Law Society lecture on the ‘Future of Law’, Sir Geoffrey Vos urged lawyers to think ahead and embrace innovation. Lawyers and judges, he said are renowned for being a conservative bunch and accepting change at a glacial speed. But: ‘In a world of rapid technological advance, we can no longer afford to be thought of in that way,’ he said.

Vos said dispute resolution will need to be speedier and cheaper for ‘the millennial generation, which expect to be able to obtain everything they want in an instant on their mobile devices’ and ‘will not make an exception for justice’.

He predicted that smart contracts and automated documentation will reduce the ‘grunt work’ for transactional lawyers, but said ‘talk of the end of litigation in the 21st century is overstated’ as the technology that seeks to predict the outcome of cases, cannot take into account ‘human frailties’ and emotions that motivate litigants.

Crime, he suggested will be different ‘once the digital revolution is complete’ with cyber and sex crime the most prevalent, and criminal prosecutions will reduce over the next 30 years, because of the increased use of mobile phones to record and track our movements. But he did not think that computers would replace juries.

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