Mutual Legal Assistance – The Future

Update 30 April 2020:

No one could have expected, when I prepared my paper on the future of Mutual Legal Assistance for the Heads of Central Authorities in the Commonwealth, the devastation of the global Covid-19 crisis.

As we now increase our use of virtual meetings through Zoom, Microsoft Teams, GoToMeeting and more – we have all become more familiar with this technology – including its limits and positive impacts. It is now we need to harness this new way of working to modernise the global mutual legal assistance system.

Donors, experts and governments should grasp this opportunity to realise long held dreams of equipping mutual legal assistance systems with much needed tools to digitize.

Whilst use of artificial intelligence recommended in my 2018 paper could be a step too far, could the use of augmented analysis be used to sift through mutual legal assistance requests to identify key words and then instructions for execution sent automatically to competent authorities in-country? Blockchain technology can then be used to ensure chain of custody and evidence securely transmitted back to a requesting state. Of course, this would need associated policy to ensure that privacy and human rights are protected at all times.

A pipe dream? Or now an epoch defining time to end the debate to deliver a mutual legal assistance system that is fit for purpose and bring it to reality in our new post-Covid world with emerging technologies!

28 February 2018:

I was honoured to present a background paper for the Commonwealth Secretariat at the First Meeting of Commonwealth Heads of Central Authorities and the Commonwealth Network of Contact Persons.

The paper outlines recommendations to reduce Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) delays – through better use of information communication technology and establishing stronger networks.

Amongst other topics, the paper discusses the challenges and possibilities raised by advances in technology – such as Artificial Intelligence (AI). The opportunities to use such technology in the legal industry are very exciting. Could we see AI used to draft MLA requests – thereby reducing delay?

Whilst we continue to discuss traditional solutions – we also need to consider innovative approaches to create a more efficient MLA system.

You can read my background paper here

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