The Assistant not the Author: A warning against over-reliance on A.I. to litigants in person.

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The Assistant not the Author: A warning against over-reliance on A.I. to litigants in person.

When faced with the prospect of costly litigation the appeal of A.I. is obvious. A.I. (or artificial intelligence) is a term used to define, in its most basic form, machine intelligence. In this context it’s usually a form of A.I. labelled ‘generative’ that can be used, among other things, to carry out and summarise research and to draft documents.

In litigation, an individual representing themselves in proceedings is known as a “litigant in person”. Someone may choose to act as a litigant in person for a number of reasons, but one predominant factor is usually cost.

That’s where generative A.I. tools such as ChatGPT or Microsoft’s Co-pilot are enticing. Not only can these tools simplify complex law and processes, but they can suggest legal arguments and prepare pleadings. These tools are undoubtedly helpful but over-relying on A.I. should carry a health warning.

A recent example in the US saw Lawyers based at a firm in New York prepare and submit a legal brief referencing six fictional cases generated by ChatGPT. As a result, the Lawyers were fined by the court for acting in bad faith and making false and misleading statements to the court.

In this case, the A.I. had experienced what is referred to as ‘hallucinations’. Effectively, it knew the outcome desired and did absolutely everything to get it, including creating fictional precedents.

So, what should a litigant in person consider if they choose to use A.I. in litigation?

  1. Ensure the information given to the A.I. tools used includes the country in which the litigation is based, known as the jurisdiction.
  2. Check that the information provided can be found in a straightforward online search. If it’s not easy to find online, that might be a red flag.
  3. If case law examples are given, check that a) the case exists and b) the case has “positive judicial consideration”. Do not rely on a case that has since been superseded by a more recent decision.

Ultimately, though the technology has advanced, there is no substitute to the assistance and technical knowledge that a specialist legal practitioner can provide. JMW’s litigation lawyers not only offer invaluable expertise but are also able to support and appropriately navigate you through the unique circumstances of your case, with a view to achieving the most suitable and cost-effective resolution.

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