21. October 2020

Henrik Palmer Olsen, from iCourts, at the forefront of a new three-year legal tech project

A new legal tech project wants to optimize information search to strengthen the rule of law in Denmark. Professor Henrik Palmer Olsen, from the DNRF Center iCourts, is at the forefront for the project that will optimize case handling by using, among other things, artificial intelligence to minimize potential errors. The project is supported by the Innovation Fund Denmark Grand Solutions.

Henrik Palmer Olsen
Henrik Palmer Olsen. Photo: Lizette Kabré

Jurists and caseworkers in Denmark spend thousands of hours on information search. A new legal tech project run by Henrik Palmer Olsen, associate dean for Research at the Faculty of Law at the University of Copenhagen and professor at the DNRF Center iCourts, wants to minimize this comprehensive information search and optimize the system that is used in association with laws, sentences and verdicts.

The project is being supported with 7.5 million kroner from the Innovation Fund Denmark Grand Solutions and is a cooperative effort between the University of Copenhagen, the Council of Appeal, and IT company Schultz. It will run for three years.

“The technology can in the long term lift caseworkers and jurists in the value chain. In the long term, routine related work will be made more efficient and standardized across the local authorities. The goal is thus to release the time to do more thorough legal analyses and to bring up the quality of the casework. In that association the Danish people will not experience just shorter processing time, but also a more homogeneous practice that will strengthen the rule of law in Denmark,” said Professor Palmer Olsen.

The new project will use artificial intelligence to analyze Danish law and human language. Right now, the project is developing the technological tool natural language processing, which will help point the case worker in the right direction. With a baseline in the case description, the artificial intelligence will guide the caseworker toward the legal documents that can be used in the case.

The goal of the project is to have jurists, lawyers, caseworkers, and public authorities throughout the country use the finished product. For now, the focus is on developing the product in Denmark, but there are already thoughts about expanding it to the Scandinavian countries later.

Crucial to eliminate discrimination and bias

When technology is used to process data, a certain risk arises regarding discrimination and bias. The project will examine how to avoid and eliminate this problem in the best possible way. This part of the project will be led by Sebastian Felix Schwemer, who is an associate professor at the Centre for Information and Innovation Law (CIIR) at the University of Copenhagen.

“To optimize legal information search can be an important contribution to strengthen the rule of law by using information technology and artificial intelligence. In that matter it is crucial to eliminate discrimination and bias,” said Schwemer.

It is the first time that the Faculty of Law at the University of Copenhagen has received a Grand Solution grant from the Innovation Fund Denmark.

“I’m excited to get started on this project and cooperate with the Council of Appeal, Schultz, and the Department of Computer Science,” said Palmer Olsen. He added:

“The support illustrates how legal knowledge can be relevant and important for the development of future digital tools.”

Read more about the project in the Danish press release from the University of Copenhagen here

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