The Autonomy Through Cyberjustice Technologies (ACT) project is a research partnership that is unique in the field of artificial intelligence and cyberjustice. AJC is led by Professor Karim Benyekhlef, Director of the Cyberjustice Laboratory, and funded by a Partnership Grant issued by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).


Description : Autonomy through Cyberjustice Technologies (ACT)

The purpose of the ACT partnership is to benefit justice stakeholders by leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) to prevent and resolve conflicts. This project has assembled a multidisciplinary and international team of 45 researchers and 42 partners representing a number of different stakeholders including the world’s leading research centres on the implementation and use of technologies in the field of justice (cyberjustice), litigants and legal professionals (justice stakeholders), as well as main users and purveyors of AI for justice in Canada.

ACT’s research activities will take advantage of both the software infrastructure at the Cyberjustice Laboratory (CJLab) and its partners’ expertise in AI and data harvesting, as well as the considerable experience acquired through the Towards Cyberjustice project (MCRI 2011-2018).


Research Hypothesis

Our researchers and partners have noted, in the last two years, a stark proliferation of legaltechs offering justice stakeholders technological tools leveraging AI and big data to prevent and resolve conflicts. Notable examples include conversational agents, predictive algorithms for anticipating the outcomes of trials, smart contracts and online dispute resolution. The tools are designed to enhance stakeholders’ autonomy; in other words, to increase their ability to understand the law and put it to work. Such empowerment of stakeholders through cyberjustice promises to transform conflict prevention and resolution as we know it today, while also disrupting the organization of the legal professions.

Both subjected to, and interested by, this phenomenon, justice professionals raise questions about the contours of AI and its various effects on the delicate balances reigning in the legal world. Our partners are seeking to identify the effects of deploying AI and to thereby draw lessons to develop technology that is better adapted to justice. To this end, the task has been divided into three working groups.

Research Agenda

Operating in complementarity, these three groups will coordinate the activities of 16 distinct research subprojects. Based on the ongoing participation of its partners, the ACT Project will span six years and four stages: a) an inventory of situations where AI is used in justice; b) evaluation of the impact of those situations with respect to enhancing the autonomy of justice stakeholders; c) development of best practices for protecting parties’ interests; and d) elaboration of a governance framework to guarantee fair use of AI for justice.

Armed with a pragmatic approach, the ACT Project will participate in developing a framework for legal governance of AI for justice. This major project will also foster the next generation of multidisciplinary researchers in law and computer science by contributing to the specialized training of approximately 25 students annually.

In terms of secondary benefits, the research sub-projects will experiment with and implement innovative technology for justice, and will also provide new opportunities for the private sector.

This content has been updated on 11 July 2018 at 18 h 52 min.