Brief Report on Artificial Intelligence & Other Emerging Legal-Technologies in Singapore
(A) Introduction & Executive Summary
1. Paragraph 10 of the Singapore Declaration at the 6th Council of ASEAN Chief Justices Meeting provides:
“10. THE AGREEMENT that the terms of Reference of the Working Group on Case Management and Court Technology be expanded to look into new and potentially disruptive areas such as Artificial Intelligence and big data as well as on emerging legal-technology areas arising from blockchain technology (for example, bitcoins, decentralised autonomous organisation, smart contracts, crypto-currency) and to report to the Council at its next meeting.“
2. Malaysia chairs the Working Group on Case Management and Court Technology. With a view to preparing the Working Group report, Malaysia has requested that CACJ members prepare a brief report on the emerging legal-technologies in their respective jurisdiction with regard to:
- Artificial Intelligence (“AI”) and big data; and
- Blockchain technology (e.g. bitcoins, decentralised autonomous organisation, smart contracts, crypto-currency).
3. This brief report will cover the following three main areas concerning Singapore:
- Recent developments on AI and other emerging legal-technologies;
- Developments or plans on AI and other emerging legal-technologies to be used in Court or in aid of Court processes; and
- Efforts in training Judges and Judicial Officers on the topics of AI and other emerging legal-technologies.
(B) Recent Developments on AI and Other Emerging Legal-Technologies
4. The Infocomm Media Development Authority (“IMDA”) is a statutory board in the Singapore Government that seeks to deepen regulatory capabilities for a converged infocomm media sector, safeguarding the interests of consumers and fostering pro-enterprise regulations. The IMDA has done much to promote awareness of AI and Data Innovation.
5. In order to aid businesses or individuals to understand data sharing concepts or key considerations when planning data partnerships, the IMDA has developed the Trusted Data Sharing Framework. The intent of the Framework is that with stronger safeguards and clarity on regulatory compliance, companies will be more ready to share their data and consequently, consumers can benefit from more personalised goods and new services.
6. The IMDA has developed several guides and programmes to facilitate and support businesses in their development and adoption of AI and Data projects to create/uncover new value for themselves, partners and/or customers. Any businesses interested in harnessing value of data, sharing of data, develop AI solutions or adopting AI can refer to the programmes and guides set out in the IMDA’s webpage. To list a few, data service intermediaries, i.e. companies that offer platform or services to enable exchanges of data, can participate in the Data Collaborative Programme. Start-ups that are innovating with Data and AI may check out Startup Station Singapore, a joint programme by IMDA and Facebook, to provide start-ups with mentorship and guidance for their businesses. Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (“SMEs”) interested to harness the value of data and adopt AI to improve efficiency of businesses and generate new businesses can approach SME Digital Tech Hub.
7. On 23 January 2019, Singapore released its Model AI Governance Framework. First in Asia to translate ethical principles of explainability, transparency, fairness and human-centricity into implementable practices, the Model AI Governance Framework provides practical guidance to private sector organisations to address key ethical and governance issues when deploying AI solutions at scale. The accountability-based Model Framework frames the discussions around a common technology deployment process, focusing on internal governance, risk management, operations management and customer relationship management. Through the Model AI Governance Framework, the IMDA aims to promote responsible AI adoption to build trust and confidence in AI technologies.
8. Law firms in Singapore will also get a $3.68 million boost to help the legal services adopt technology in their practices. Under a new Tech-celerate for Law programme launched on 2 May 2019, law practices can get funding support from the Government for up to 70% for the first-year cost of adopting baseline and advanced technology solutions. Baseline technology solutions for practice management, online legal research and document management can help law practices perform essential day-to-day tasks more efficiently, while advanced technology solutions (powered by AI) can help law practices strengthen capabilities in document assembly, document review, e-discovery, and client engagement. The programme was launched by the Ministry of Law, the Law Society of Singapore, Enterprise Singapore and the IMDA.
9. In the area of blockchain technology and innovation, the IMDA seeks to promote awareness and adoption of the technology; and encourage companies to explore business model innovation and/or transformation arising from the technology. Through the Blockchain Challenge , the IMDA enables companies to develop pioneering solutions using blockchain.
The IMDA is also actively driving the development of the blockchain ecosystem in Singapore through OpenNodes, an engagement platform which will serve as a digital nexus for blockchain special interest groups, business ecosystems, solutions providers and other related services providers. OpenNodes will bring together government agencies, corporates and blockchain companies onto a single online platform, fostering innovation and collaboration in the blockchain community. Through such industry engagements, the IMDA would be able to identify challenges encountered by enterprises in the adoption or implementation of blockchain technologies, and explore relevant mitigation measures to address these challenges.
(C) AI and Other Emerging Legal-Technologies to be Used in Court or in Aid of Court Processes
10. In November 2018, to enhance the focus on innovation and technology, the Honourable the Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon announced that a new Office of Transformation and Innovation (“OTI”) will be created to operationalise the strategic direction set for the whole Judiciary. The OTI will consider, amongst other things, how we may eradicate needless forms and processes, dispense with unnecessary hearings and meetings, improve access to our courts, embrace innovative models for our work, exploit existing technology as well as use AI and predictive technology to enhance the work of our courts.
11. The OTI is presently exploring the following:
- Use AI to develop speech-to-text real-time transcription capabilities;
- Use AI to help in getting relevant case law identified for judges to assist in decision making; and
- Develop tools to help with better scheduling and utilisation of court hearing days.
(D) Efforts in Training Judges and Judicial Officers on AI and Other Emerging Legal-Technologies
12. The Singapore Judicial College (“SJC”) has identified Legal-Tech as a focus area of its curriculum. The SJC has to date conducted several primers to introduce Judges and Judicial Officers to emerging areas in Legal-Tech and applications of technology:
|20 February 2018||Introduction to Cryptocurrency and the Legal Issues Arising|
|25 July 2018||Genetics and Neuroscience in Criminal Justice; and the Forensic Brainwave Project (“brain finger-printing”)|
|9 January 2019||Judges and LawTech: A Virtual Reality Check (Judicial Education Session for Supreme Court and International Judges)|
|22 January 2019||Legal Issues in Artificial Intelligence|
|16 July 2019||Fundamental Concepts and Use of Advanced Technologies in Crash Reconstruction (e.g. use of 3D laser-scanners and modelling tools)|
13. For second half of 2019, SJC will be offering another AI primer session on 4 November 2019 by Mr Laurence Liew, who is the Director of AI Industry Innovation from AI Singapore. SJC intends to build on the above primers and has curated three modules from the Graduate Certificate in LegalTech, a public course offered by the Singapore Management University (“SMU”) Law Academy and the SMU Academy, to provide judges with the opportunity to delve deeper into cryptocurrency, blockchain and smart contracts as well as AI.
14. Separately, the Supreme Court’s Office of Public Affairs also organised a training session for Judicial Officers on blockchain and smart contracts on 6 March 2018.
15. Lastly, the CACJ Singapore is exploring the possibility of collaborating with SMU in organising a 3-day signature seminar-workshop on AI & Other Emerging Tech sometime in second half of 2020 for judges and senior law officials. The proposed workshop will be held in Singapore and tentatively fixed from 25 to 27 November 2020.
 For more information, please see the IMDA’s webpage at https://www2.imda.gov.sg/programme-listing/blockchain-challenge