How Asia is levelling up its legal tech

By Sean Nolan

A round up of the latest tech tools that are assisting courts and lawyers across Asia.

In 1648, European nations gathered to agree upon the Peace of Westphalia. This collection of treaties brought an end to decades of war and established the values of the modern day nation state, such as allowing religious freedom within a set territory.

Today’s legal agreements are not created in ancient rooms, but in frequent Zooms. Asia is exploring new online tools to make the work of lawyers more efficient and convenient.

Here is how a one stop legal platform and AI are making a difference in the region.

Singapore’s one stop legal platform

Singapore’s Ministry of Law is developing tech tools to support lawyers. A one-stop platform, under trial since January 2022, helps lawyers manage their workload and communicate with clients.

The platform enables lawyers to share and work together on documents securely on the cloud. It provides templates for the different documents needed for legal cases, helping lawyers to quickly start new projects.

This system also allows lawyers to keep track of the progress of each case they’re working on, and helps them monitor deadlines. It includes a secure way of communicating with clients that can be accessed as part of an app.

“Technology can improve the efficiency of lawyers and law practices,” wrote the Ministry of Law in a recent press release. Tech tools can make the work of lawyers more convenient while “increasing the accuracy of legal work and documentation”, it added.

AI in India and Malaysia’s courtrooms

India’s Supreme Court introduced an AI tool to tackle a growing number of unsettled cases. The system can analyse the court’s workflow and identify areas that can be automated for greater efficiency, wrote The Indian Express.

The technology can also collect relevant laws and facts to support a judge's decision making. AI tools “can have a deep impact” on reducing the 58 million unresolved cases at India’s high courts, it continued.

AI tools in Sabah and Sarawak are assisting judges by recommending sentences for criminal cases. The algorithm makes its assessment by analysing past cases, a previously manual task given to the judges, wrote GovInsider.

The tool also takes into account details from the case at hand. It looks at factors such as age, employment, and gender, in order to recommend a sentence for the criminal, said The Right Honourable Tan Sri Dato’ Abang Iskandar bin Abang Hashim, Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak in Malaysia.

The Malaysian court is exploring how the tool can be used in civil cases, for example, suggesting how much a victim of an injury should be compensated. Although AI can make recommendations, the judges still hold the decision making power, highlighted ​​Abang Iskandar.

Indonesia: The need for a digital legal system

Before the pandemic, representatives from Indonesia or their counterpart would travel across the world to take part in the drafting and signing of a document. But when the pandemic struck, video conferencing became the only way to make treaties, says Damos Dumoli Agusman, Director-General of International Law and Treaties, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Indonesia.

Adapting to virtual treaty-making is a challenge that limits the number of treaties Indonesia can sign, Agusman highlights. Before the pandemic, the country could sign around 250 documents per year, whereas 2021 saw 78 documents signed by early December.

Tech is the way forward, believes Agusman. “We need to have a kind of digital legal system”, he says. He envisions a secure way to share diplomatic documents digitally, rather than being transported in hardcopy versions.

He also sees potential in a platform where lawyers can receive and share legal advice online. This would reduce the need for lawyers to travel across the country for legal advice, helping them gain the necessary insights within an hour, Agusman shares.

It’s no longer 1648, and the way nations handle important legal matters should reflect that. Introducing digital tools, such as AI, will be key to helping lawyers take on more cases and reducing the manual work they face.