Barcelona, 1 june 2018
Annual General Meeting
After Rome in 2016 and London in 2017, theEEEI Annual General Meeting was held in Barcelona on 1 June 2018 at the prestigious premises of the Bar Association. This one is legitimately proud of its library, created since the beginning in 1833, comprising today 200.000 volumes and a historical fund which did not cease being enriched thanks to the work of the curator Mrs Patricia Sanpera Izoard.
In addition to the statutory work of the General Assembly, the Co-Presidents presented their moral report recalling all the work in progress and in particular the objectives and progress to date of the “Find an Expert” project co-financed by the European Commission before representatives of institutional members such as the Paris Bar Association, the Prague Bar Association, the Bar Association of the Hauts de Seine, the Court of Appeal of Cologne and Liège, and some fifty individual members.
Conference: Lawyers and experts facing the new challenges of justice
After a very convivial coffee break that allowed multiple exchanges between the participants present, the end of the morning was traditionally devoted to a high-level conference whose themes were “Lawyers and experts facing the new challenges of Justice: internationalisation, dematerialisation, E-obviousness and predictive Justice” (or how new technologies can improve the quality of justice in the EU).
After a few words of welcome from Mrs Yvonne Pavía, Secretary General of the ICAB who represented Mrs Cristina Vallejo Ros, Member of the Board of Directors of the ICAB and in charge of the training centre, Mr Luc Ferrand, Deputy Director of the “Evidence-2-e-CODEX” project, seconded by the French Ministry of Justice, spoke first to explain the importance of:
- the e-justice portal, an e-CODEX project developed by the Council of the European Union and the European Commission,
- the dematerialisation of procedures in the European Union.
Mr Ferrand, in this context, welcomed the very important stakes of the “Find an expert” project led by the EEEI with the financial support of the EC, whose first objective is to gather the existing lists of experts within the EU and make them available on the e-justice portal to facilitate the search for an expert in a State of the Union.
It specifies that the “Find an expert” project is a brick of a vast construction aiming at identifying in a certain and perennial way all the actors of the judicial world of which the experts are part and all the acts that they carry out in order to generalize in the long term the exchanges of dematerialized information between all these actors while respecting the organization specific to each Member State.
The principle of subsidiarity has led to the search for a decentralised communication system which ensures interoperability between the various applications developed within the Member States, leaving them and the various practitioners (bailiffs, notaries, lawyers, experts) free to join.
The communication system chosen “e- Codex” functions as an “adapter” in that it allows a document issued by a professional working on his business application to be transmitted, after signature, and read by the member of another profession working on a separate business application while guaranteeing the identity of the sender and the integrity of the message.
Ultimately, the development of this system will probably lead to the creation of a specialised European agency whose task will be to ensure the continuous updating of the lists of professionals and to make the various technical adjustments made necessary when changes are made to the existing systems in each Member State.
Mr Alain Pilette, Deputy Director Justice at the Council of the European Union, chairman of the e-Justice working group, then spoke to recall the objectives of e-justice arising from the importance of developing links not only between the EU and the Member States but also between these Member States and practitioners. He said that the period 2019-2023 would be marked by a clarification of the roles of Member States, practitioners and working groups. Finally, he underlined the difficulty linked to the absence of interlocutors in the non-regulated professions to which experts belong.
Mr Pilette noted the close link between the objectives of e-justice and those of “Find an Expert” (JUST-AG-2016-05 JUST 766374), a transnational project co-financed by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers, led by the EEEI.
Mr Yannick Meneceur, Secretary of the Working Group of the SATURN Centre for the Management of Judicial Time, Secretary CEPEJ (European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice of the Council of Europe), then intervened to “demythify” the concepts of artificial intelligence and predictive justice.
Noting the development of huge databases and the use of statistical tools and probability calculations to process these masses of data, it stressed that the implementation of these technologies in the judicial field, even with the objective of improving the quality of justice, must be accompanied by safeguards to make them compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.
Indeed, there is a certain risk of prejudice to the impartiality of the judge which could be influenced by the knowledge of a very large number of decisions converging towards an identical solution for similar cases. Moreover, a second risk lies in the development of “forum shopping” according to the case law of a judge or a court collected by an exhaustive collection of decisions rendered, or even an impoverishment of reflection by conformism with a dominant median jurisprudential line.
Mr Meneceur mentioned a study carried out on 584 decisions of the ECHR. These results put into perspective the predictive value of quantitative analysis of case law since, although it was found that it made it possible to anticipate 79% of court decisions on the interpretation of facts, this anticipation rate is now only 62% for the application of the law, which makes the prognosis very uncertain and demonstrates that artificial intelligence remains incapable of producing legal reasoning.
These risks are even greater in criminal matters when one tries to use these methods to predict and prevent the commission of offences and/or recidivism. The American example of the attribution to a white male perpetrator of serious violence of a dangerousness coefficient much lower than that attributed to a black female perpetrator of a minor traffic offence demonstrates the limits of the method which overestimates the importance of the racial criterion even if statistically it is established that the acts of delinquency are for multiple reasons and particularly socio-economic and cultural reasons foreign to ethnicity, more the fact of populations of colour than white populations.
Mr Meneceur concluded his presentation on the urgent need to develop ethical rules to regulate the use of these methods which, applied without precaution, would only revive the theory of the criminal-born dear to Lombroso at the end of the 19th century. These ethical rules should guarantee the transparency of the method and the control of the algorithms used. Their implementation will require the use of specialised, independent and responsible experts and the creation of a supervisory authority.
The conference ended with the intervention of Mr Fernández Comas, Director of Derechopractico and Ambassador of the Institute of Legal Innovation.
Mr. Comas presented a few current examples of the use of artificial intelligence allowing considerable efficiency gains provided that there is a quality data processing process and large volumes of usable data.
- facial recognition which, combined with a bad payer file, allows Chinese companies to identify bad payers and reduce their delinquency rate,
- chatbots, which provide increasingly sophisticated answers to public requests for legal information on the procedures to be followed. This approach should lead to a reduction in the number of lawyers whose performance can also be assessed on the basis of the results obtained before the courts,
- the tax administration will be able to respond with similar processes to the 370 questions most frequently asked by taxpayers, thus relieving the agents of this intelligence mission, thereby improving their added value.
At the end of the conference, participants who so wished enjoyed a guided tour of the Sagrada Familia followed by a dinner around a shared Paella.
Président du Comité d’Orientation
Address: Il·lustre Col·legi de l'Advocacia de Barcelona (ICAB), Carrer de Mallorca, 283, Barcelone, Espagne
Date: 1 June 2018