The European Union’s new Artificial Intelligence Act has significant implications for AI systems used in legal proceedings, including both civil and criminal law. Here’s a detailed analysis of how the Act might regulate AI in these contexts:

Civil Law Proceedings

  1. AI in Decision Making and Legal Research: AI systems are increasingly used to assist in legal research and potentially in decision-making processes. Under the AI Act, systems used for legal interpretation and application of the law would likely be considered high risk. This means they would need to undergo thorough assessment before deployment and throughout their lifecycle to ensure compliance with EU regulations.
  2. Transparency and Explainability: In civil law proceedings, the AI Act’s emphasis on transparency and the right of individuals to receive explanations of AI decisions becomes crucial. AI systems used in legal contexts would need to provide understandable explanations of their outputs, ensuring that judgments or legal advice are not solely AI-driven without human understanding and oversight.
  3. Data Protection and Privacy: Given the sensitive nature of data involved in civil law proceedings, AI systems will be required to adhere to strict data protection and privacy standards set by the EU, particularly under GDPR and the AI Act’s own provisions.

Criminal Law Proceedings

  1. AI in Evidence Analysis and Predictive Policing: AI is used for analyzing evidence and in predictive policing. Under the AI Act, such systems might be classified as high risk, especially if they involve biometric identification or categorization of natural persons, necessitating strict compliance with the Act’s provisions on risk assessment, transparency, and data protection.
  2. Use of AI in Surveillance and Law Enforcement: The use of AI for real-time biometric identification in publicly accessible spaces, relevant to criminal law enforcement, is subject to stringent conditions under the AI Act. It’s allowed only in specific, serious circumstances with judicial authorization, ensuring that fundamental rights and privacy are not unduly compromised.
  3. Judicial Decision Support Systems: AI systems that may be used to support judicial decision-making in criminal cases will be under close scrutiny. They must adhere to the high-risk AI system requirements, ensuring that decisions are fair, unbiased, and transparent.

General Considerations for Both Civil and Criminal Proceedings

  • Ethical and Non-Discriminatory Use: AI systems in legal proceedings must be designed to avoid discrimination and bias, a key concern in both civil and criminal law. The AI Act mandates that such systems be transparent, traceable, and non-discriminatory.
  • Human Oversight: The Act emphasizes human oversight in AI systems, which is particularly pertinent in legal proceedings. Decisions that significantly impact individuals’ rights or legal statuses should not be fully automated but rather be subject to human review and judgment.
  • Liability and Accountability: In cases where AI systems are used, determining liability and accountability becomes complex. The AI Act’s provisions ensure that providers and users of high-risk AI systems are held accountable for their functioning and compliance with the law.

In summary, the EU’s Artificial Intelligence Act aims to ensure that AI systems used in legal proceedings, whether in civil or criminal contexts, are safe, fair, transparent, and respect fundamental rights. The Act’s risk-based approach mandates rigorous assessment and continuous oversight, especially for high-risk applications, to safeguard the integrity of legal processes and protect individual rights.