SINGAPORE: Singapore’s judicial system is taking a significant leap into the realm of artificial intelligence as it seeks to enhance accessibility and streamline the Small Claims Tribunal process for litigants. Justice Aedit Abdullah, spearheading this initiative, recently announced that the courts have entered into a memorandum of cooperation with the U.S. startup AI company Harvey to harness the capabilities of generative artificial intelligence tools.

These cutting-edge AI tools are poised to revolutionize how litigants interact with the legal system. Among their functions, they can answer legal queries, summarize complex legal information, perform translations, compile defence materials, interpret intricate judicial terminology, and even analyze draft documents.

Justice Abdullah emphasizes that the primary aim of deploying generative AI is to empower individuals seeking justice. These AI tools will assist litigants in crafting claim documents, provide guidance on procedural requirements, and facilitate settlements when necessary. However, alongside this technological advancement, the courts are vigilant about data security and ensuring that any information uploaded to the system is adequately protected.

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Moreover, Singapore’s courts are determined to bridge the digital divide and ensure that these AI systems are accessible to all citizens, regardless of their technological proficiency or resources.

In a forward-looking approach, the courts are currently developing a chatbot system, still in its trial stage, which is expected to take one to two years to mature. This system will serve as an interactive guide, aiding individuals in navigating the tribunal process seamlessly.

Additionally, a trial version of a digital guidance questionnaire is set to be launched on the court’s website. This tool will help litigants find relevant information based on their specific circumstances, simplifying the process of obtaining crucial information for their cases.

Justice Abdullah, recognizing the inevitability of change, emphasized the courts’ commitment to making the legal process as user-friendly as possible.

He said, “We cannot stop change. We have a primary duty to the users of the court system and the public at large to make sure our processes are as seamless and painless as possible. If we have to change to accommodate a new environment with people wanting an easier time going through the court system, we have to facilitate that.”