Sir Geoffrey Vos believes AI will change principles and practices of common law

Apr 4, 2024
Author: Simon Bladen
Simon is one of the firm's Audit Partners. Simon is responsible for looking after the firm’s legal, charitable and not-for-profit clients.
Legal tech

Artificial intelligence (AI) is poised to revolutionise the practice of law, potentially reshaping the principles of common law, according to Sir Geoffrey Vos, the Master of the Rolls. Speaking at the Manchester Law Society, Sir Geoffrey offered an optimistic view of AI’s impact, suggesting it could influence various legal specialisms, including company law, insolvency law, contract law, tort law, and even criminal law.


Practical advantages of AI

Sir Geoffrey emphasised the practical advantages of AI in legal practice, suggesting that lawyers may find it difficult to demonstrate reasonable skill and diligence if they fail to utilise these new technological tools. He noted that even the judiciary will face pressure to expedite routine decisions, potentially delegating some tasks to AI systems.


Fears regarding adopting AI

Dispelling fears surrounding AI, Sir Geoffrey likened it to any other tool, highlighting its ubiquity in daily life, such as in smartphones. He argued that concerns about misuse of AI parallel those of any other technological innovation, emphasising the need for responsible implementation.


AI a time saving intervention

Drawing from his own experiments with AI products like ChatGPT, Google Gemini, and Microsoft CoPilot, Sir Geoffrey praised AI’s efficacy in drafting contracts. While acknowledging the need for human oversight, he lauded AI’s ability to significantly reduce the time required for contract drafting compared to traditional methods.

Addressing concerns about AI’s accuracy in legal contexts, Sir Geoffrey suggested that specialised AI systems trained on legal data could outperform generic models. He envisioned a future where AI-generated contracts could become commonplace, compelling clients to opt for cost-effective AI solutions over traditional legal services.


AI’s impact on common law and practice

Furthermore, Sir Geoffrey highlighted AI’s potential to impact fundamental principles of common law, such as the implication of terms and regulations governing unfair contract terms. He suggested that the nature of the duty of care may necessitate re-evaluation in light of AI advancements.

Regarding the judiciary, Sir Geoffrey noted the receptiveness of senior judges to AI tools, evident in the issuance of judicial AI guidance. He envisioned AI integration within a digital justice system, offering quicker and more efficient dispute resolution methods.



In conclusion, Sir Geoffrey Vos advocated for embracing AI’s potential to transform legal practice while acknowledging the need for responsible implementation and adaptation of legal frameworks. As AI continues to evolve, it promises to reshape not only legal processes but also the foundational principles of common law.

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