Legal IT Litigation Latest: DoNotPay offers $1m for Supreme Court case and UK banks face 109 class actions 

DoNotPay founder Josh Browder said this week on Twitter that he will pay any lawyer or person with an upcoming Supreme Court case $1,000,000 to wear AirPods that let DoNotPay’s GPT3 ‘robot lawyer’ argue the case, arguing that the “haters” will say that municipal traffic court hearings are too simple for GPT. 

The Twitter post follows the announcement that DoNotPay will next month enter the courtroom for the first time, using its GPT3-backed technology to tell a defendant in a traffic case what to say through headphones. 

The $1m offer, which Browder says is a “serious offer, contingent on us coming to a formal agreement and all rules being followed” has been met with scepticism, with many on Twitter pointing out that SCOTUS doesn’t let attorneys wear AirPods or bring an iPhone into court. Twitter has added a reader-provided context note from the Supreme Court noting that electronic devices are banned while the Court is in session. 

Commenting on the post yesterday (9 January), legal commentator Ian Runkle, who has over 109,000 followers, said: “Are you seriously posting an open request for people to smuggle things into a SCOTUS hearing. How do you see this ending?” 

DoNotPay already uses AI-backed chatbots to help people fight parking tickets online and apply for compensation for airline delays. More recently it launched a chatbot to help people negotiate bills and cancel subscriptions. It has so far raised $27.7m from VCs including Andreessen Horowitz and Crew Capital.  

However, Browder’s dream of securing a Supreme Court hearing seems a long, long way off. What will be interesting though will be the outcome of the traffic hearing – the name of the court and the defendant are so far being kept under wraps.

In other news, given that Legal IT Insider has been tracking the growth of UK class action platforms and partnerships over the past year it is interesting to note from research out yesterday (9 January) that the UK’s leading banks are facing at least 109 class action and group action lawsuits, albeit across a range of jurisdictions. 

Research from UK top 50 law firm RPC shows that the most common type of case – making up over a third of the total – relates to manipulation of LIBOR and other interest rate benchmarks. The next largest category of cases, making up almost one fifth of the total, relate to breaches of the US Anti-Terrorism Act, where banks processed transactions which claimants allege were destined for terrorist organisations.  

The class and group actions were disclosed to shareholders of the banks concerned. 

Class and group actions are mechanisms for bringing claims on behalf of hundreds or even thousands of claimants who collectively allege they have suffered loss due to the defendant’s unlawful conduct. 

Prevalent in the USA and Australia, class and group action lawsuits are becoming increasingly common in the UK and certain European jurisdictions. In the UK in July last year, class action platform Find Others formally launched, and in October, group action platform Case Pilots partnered with mass digital disbursements payment service Shieldpay.

Class actions against banks have attracted increased levels of potential funding from litigation funders. Often backed by hedge funds and PE houses, litigation funders, finance the legal costs of a company or individual’s case (ie they will pay for the lawyers and experts) in exchange for a share of the proceeds if the claimant is victorious. 

Daniel Hemming, a partner at RPC, said: “Banks and other large UK corporates are likely to face a gradual rise in class actions. Often the quantum of these cases against the banks is so significant that litigation funders are front of the queue to back these class and group actions.  The funders also have a role to play in building the group of claimants where that is appropriate. 

“Litigation funders have the potential to shift the balance of power in favour of claimants in these kinds of cases. Banks and other large corporates can no longer rely on the prohibitive cost of these cases putting off potential claimants. 

Barclays faces the most class and group actions of all the UK’s biggest banks, with 41 cases against them, followed by HSBC with 31 and NatWest with 28. 

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