Susskind calls for new UK institute to innovate and respond to rapid AI development 

Susskind tells Legal IT Insider what stage the plans are currently at for the new UK innovation institute

Professor Richard Susskind has called for the creation of a new independent institute to help the UK maintain its leadership on the global legal stage and respond to the rapid development of AI.  

Speaking at a LegalUK gathering on the evening of 6 July, Susskind proposed the creation of a National Centre for Legal Innovation – in the spirit of The Alan Turing Institute and The Francis Crick Institute in biomedicine – to become a focal point in the UK for the new thinking required to improve access to justice; preserve the UK’s leadership position; and respond to the recent developments in AI, which Susskind described as “the most remarkable development in my 40 years.” 

Addressing an audience at The Central Criminal Court for England and Wales (more commonly referred to as the Old Bailey), Susskind pointed out the exponential growth path that AI is now on, commenting: “There is no finishing line. Our lives will be transformed by technologies that have not yet been invented.” 

However, the UK legal community’s response has been piecemeal and unstructured, Susskind said, observing: “There have been all sorts of events, blogs, lectures, papers and speculation, but little that is authoritative or that coherently harnesses the best of our legal minds and legal technologists.” 

He added: “There are clear opportunities for AI, for example, to help self-represented litigants to understand and enforce their entitlements, and yet the loudest voices have been of those who see problems rather than opportunity. 

“We have not stepped forward to show how English law is the obvious choice of law in relation to AI, nor how our courts will take advantage of the opportunities afforded by existing and future AI.” 

Susskind told Legal IT Insider that the purpose of the announcement last night was to get feedback from leaders in the community to help settle on the best approach for the Centre. 

“We are keen to bring together the country’s leading legal innovators to collaborate on the initiatives I outlined,” he said over email.

The plan is the for the Centre to be independent and Susskind told us: “We are very keen to have government support and involvement. We view this not as led by government but as a collaborative effort, involving the legal community, legal community and the government as well.”

Susskind told Legal IT Insider that the danger of the current piecemeal approach is “that we miss opportunities to crack the access to justice problem and to consolidate and enhance English law as the leading global legal platform for international trade and London as a leading global centre for dispute resolution.” 

He added: “It makes sense to bring our best people together to innovate. We believe systematic collaboration will deliver better change than lots of people doing their own thing.” 

The Centre will horizon scan, to ensure that the UK is on top of emerging technologies; develop prototypes of English legal products and solutions; and conduct research on techlaw and lawtech.  

“As a pithier speaker than I once said, the best way to predict the future is to invent it,” Susskind told the LegalUK audience. “That is precisely what an Institute could do – invent a new future, pave the way for greater access to justice and for ensuring, as we move into the second quarter of the 21st century, that English law remains a global leader.” 

1 thought on “Susskind calls for new UK institute to innovate and respond to rapid AI development ”

  1. This is a great idea.

    For me one of the ongoing concerns around the speed of development of AI in legal is the associated security/data protection concerns.

    The ICO will soon (due August 2023) be launching LOCS:23 – the first approved Data Protection certification scheme for legal services.

    Certifying as UK GDPR compliant would be a great foundation to developing AI projects in the knowledge they have referenceable and measurable compliance with UK GDPR. Should also assist with client confidence.

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