British Columbia Ministry of Justice

Semester: 2012 Fall

Students: Joshua Benson and Erica Esposito

The  Ministry of Justice’s Dispute Resolution Office (DRO) develops and promotes non-adversarial dispute resolution options within the justice system and government. It has introduced multiple initiatives that leverage the benefits of technology in this context. Examples include Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) pilot projects with Consumer Protection BC and the Property Assessment Appeal Board.

The DRO recently led on the development of legislation that will create a groundbreaking new technology-based tribunal for small claims and condominium disputes. The tribunal will offer most of its services through remote channels like ODR and virtual adjudicative hearings.

The DRO’s project with HNMCP will consider the current role, as well as the future potential of technology-based “expert systems” in the dispute resolution context. Artificially intelligent expert systems are beginning to replace the functions and support traditionally provided by humans in specific subject areas (e.g. electronic forms assistance platforms, automated document assembly applications, predictive coding e-discovery tools, and decision-making support for complex legal issues). This project will attempt to determine whether artificially intelligent technologies could begin to play an expanded role in the dispute resolution context, and if so, what, what that role would look like. As a self-help tool, an expert system could facilitate a very early resolution of the dispute, or could at least prepare parties for a subsequent negotiation.  At a minimum, it should help users to recognize the basic type of dispute and therefore where or how to find further information.

Our Work

  • Review of existing expert systems broadly, as well as of justice or dispute resolution-focused expert systems specifically
  • Interviews with past or present operators of justice and dispute resolution-focused expert systems internationally, and with stakeholders from the BC Justice System
  • Identification of requisite elements for expert systems in a dispute resolution context
  • Generic, high-level overview business process mapping of expert systems to identify the basic elements that could be included in a dispute resolution context
  • Development of  recommended methodology for constructing an expert system
  • Applied exercise mocking up subject matter content for sample expert system

Deliverables Envisioned

  • Summary of findings from research and interviews, as well as a process map of expert systems
  • Summary description of expert system elements to be used in dispute resolution context
  • Suggested methodology or high level project plan for creating an expert system, focused primarily on generic process design, incorporation of expert subject matter and desired outcomes for users and for the hosting organization
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