"The law is an ass," said Charles Dickens. That may be so but it is a predictable one at that. Researchers at University College London, the University of Sheffield and the University of Pennsylvania applied an AI algorithm to the judicial decisions of 584 cases that went through the European Court of Human Rights and found patterns in the text. Having learned from these cases, the algorithm was able to predict the outcome of other cases with 79 percent accuracy.
Interestingly, it was found that rather than legal argument being predictive of case outcomes, the most reliable factors were non-legal elements: language used, topics covered and circumstances mentioned in the case text.
"Previous studies have predicted outcomes based on the nature of the crime, or the policy position of each judge, so this is the first time judgments have been predicted using analysis of text prepared by the court," said Dr Vasileios Lampos, co-author of the paper in which the research was published.