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Why judiciary must embrace technology, by Osinbajo

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Osinbajo

The Nigerian judiciary must embrace technology and innovation, not only for evolution and national development but also to ensure that the country’s justice system is run on discernible laws and efficient institutions.

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Vice President Yemi Osinbajo stated this in a pre-recorded speech, yesterday, as guest speaker at the 2021 yearly Law Week of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Lagos Branch, themed, ‘Disruption, Innovation and The Bar’.

Speaking on how the country’s justice delivery system could support critical investments in a dynamic economy, the Vice President noted that “questions also need be asked about the readiness of our profession to engage in new markets as presented by the African Continental Free Trade Area. Already, Nigerian banks and financial services are crossing borders in Africa, acquiring banks in several African countries.

“So, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) will open new trans-border commercial opportunities, and our profession should pay attention to the rules of engagement for legal services and how they may propel our business.”

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According to the Vice President, innovation in Nigeria’s legal profession requires urgency in both thought and action, especially in a world that thrives on a knowledge economy, and where some jobs, including legal jobs, are being threatened by digitisation and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Citing the example of how continuous improvement in the quality of smartphone cameras disrupted global sales of digital cameras, Osinbajo observed that now “AI is commonly used to perform tasks such as legal research and due diligence, document and contract review, and the prediction of legal outcomes – these are tasks that would have been performed by lawyers. With the continuing progress in technology, it is only a matter of time before the time capsule catches up with us in Nigeria.”

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He called for continuous improvement in the institutional capacity of judges, court registries, court staff, and court infrastructure.

He said: “As digitalisation has already disrupted other industries, it is possible to predict that AI will go further and disrupt the business model of the legal industry. For example, the AI legal service called ROSS is an AI system that can research and offer legal opinions about questions that may be posed by lawyers. And ROSS is then able to provide an answer; a properly considered legal opinion, taking into account the case laws and statutory authority in order to be able to come to that conclusion. So, providing predictive legal opinion is no longer the exclusive domain of lawyers, and as the years go by, it will become even more so.”

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