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Cambridge University law students create crime-identifying ‘LawBot’

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It’s basically an Oxbridge-educated RoboCop

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Four Cambridge University law students have created a new online system called ‘LawBot’ which is designed to help the victims of criminal offences get justice.

LawBot — which is the brainchild of Ludwig Bull, Rebecca Agliolo, Jozef Maruscak and Nadial Abdul — took just six weeks to build. It uses Artificial Intelligence Markup Language (AIML) to “provide confidential, non-judgmental, free, easy to understand legal knowledge”.

Currently, LawBot can offer advice in relation to 26 “major criminal offences”, including sex offences, property offences and offences against the person.

Keen to put the robot through its paces, Legal Cheek visited the site pretending to be the victim of an assault.

Having answered a number of LawBot’s questions — such as the type of injury sustained and the state of mind of the perpetrator — the system quickly advised that an offence against the person contrary to section 18 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 had been committed. Armed with this information LawBot advised that Legal Cheek contact the police.

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The clever system — which is based on Joshua Browder’s parking ticket appeal robot ‘DoNotPay’ — can currently only advise on criminal offences committed in England and Wales. However, according to its creators, there are plans to extend LawBot’s capabilities so it will be able to tackle civil law in the near future.

Ludwig, who is the project’s founder and director, told Legal Cheek:

LawBot bridges the gap between legal information (which exists aplenty on the web) and legal knowledge. LawBot secures equal access to justice by explaining in simple questionnaires how the law might apply to a specific situation.

But lawyers can breath a sigh of relief. According to LawBot’s marketing director, Rebecca Agliolo, the system is “not in contention with the legal profession” and has been designed to “complement” the fine work undertaken by criminal solicitors. Continuing, the fourth year Cambridge law student told Legal Cheek:

We don’t believe that programs like LawBot will displace lawyers — in fact, we hope it would compel more people to seek qualified legal advice. By incorporating technological innovation, the law is better equipped to fulfil its (arguably most important) function: the provision of access to justice.

You can put LawBot through its paces here.