Law, Decision-Making, and Microcomputers: Cross-National Perspectives

By Stuart S. Nagel | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 19
Computers in Legal Decision-Making

David I. Bainbridge

The rapid growth of computer technology has many implications for the practice and administration of law. The interface between computers and the law is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, computer technology is a source of legal problems: it challenges the flexibility of law and attempts to keep the law up to date with technological changes. Examples of such legal problems are the difficulties resulting in the fields of intellectual property, especially copyright and patent law, and the new opportunities for fraud. New forms of undesirable activity such as computer "hacking" are made possible by the widespread adoption of computer technology. On the other hand, the growing sophistication and power of computer systems bring enormous potential for computers to be used as tools to assist with legal decision-making at all levels. It is with this latter aspect of computers and the law that this chapter is concerned. In particular, the various techniques possible for computer-assisted legal decision-making will be described and illustrated with examples of recent achievements in the United Kingdom, including computer modelling, statistical techniques, and, especially, expert systems. With respect to expert systems, the significance of the need for a sound and thorough jurisprudential inquiry will be discussed.


COMPUTER MODELLING

Many administrative decisions are made that affect the day-to-day operation of parts of the legal system. Some of these decisions are made on grounds of efficacy, while others are politically motivated. But whatever the purpose, it is important that the consequences of any changes made by these decisions are thoroughly explored before the decisions are indeed made. The development of a computer model of the relevant legal subsystem allows different decision

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