Richard Susskind appointed as Special Envoy for Justice and AI to the Secretary-General of The Commonwealth

Professor Richard Susskind has been appointed as Special Envoy for Justice and AI to the Secretary-General of The Commonwealth, tasked with helping the 56 Commonwealth countries to achieve equal access to justice by 2030 using artificial intelligence. The goal is based on the UN Sustainable Development Goal 16, to create peace, justice and strong institutions by 2030.

Announcing the appointment this week, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC said: “We know that the progress towards SDG 16 is not on track. Artificial intelligence, when harnessed properly, can be a powerful tool to get us back on track. Prof Susskind’s record of engagement in justice and artificial intelligence makes him eminently suited to drive the Commonwealth’s Equal Access to Justice Declaration in line with SDG 16.”

Susskind is a renowned author on the future of legal services and president of the Society for Computers and Law. He served as technology adviser to the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales from 1998 to 2023. He has been working on artificial intelligence and the law since the 1980s. Nonetheless this is a hugely ambitious role. Replying to an email from Legal IT Insider asking about the scale of the new appointment, Susskind said: “It is an ambitious agenda. But really important.” He added: “I have all sorts of ideas but my first job will be to listen to a wide range of people across many jurisdictions to gain a sense of the current level of technology use and planning.”

He added: “I have for long been of the view – for decades – that AI will be a vital tool in overcoming the access to justice challenge. Existing and emerging technologies are now very promising.”

Speaking to Legal IT Insider at the end of 2023, Susskind described recent technological advances, namely generative AI, as “the most remarkable developments in my 40 years.” While lawyers are focusing on issues of productivity, Susskind commented to us at the time that there are more existential questions to be answered, observing: “We are beginning to see how we might crack the access to justice problem.”

Susskind joins seven other distinguished individuals serving as the Secretary-General’s special envoys and champions.

See also:

Professor Richard Susskind to step down as technology adviser to the LCJ

 

 

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