Although ChatGPT can assist lawyers, it is considered a tool and not a replacement for human legal expertise. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Islamabad: In a trailblazing move, a judge in Pakistan used ChatGPT for a court decision, making it the first time a legal decision has been made in the country with the help of an artificial intelligence (AI) text-generating chatbot.

Additional district and sessions judge Mohammad Amir Munir, who presides over the Phalia court in Mandi Bahauddin district of Punjab province, said he used the AI tool to ask legal questions about the case and whether a juvenile accused of a criminal offence could be entitled to post-arrest bail.

The judge said that the purpose of the experiment was to test the capabilities of AI technology and determine whether ChatGPT can be useful in assisting the justice system to pass efficient and intelligent judicial orders and judgments in accordance with the law.

He said that the decision to allow the pre-arrest bail application was not based on the answers provided by ChatGPT but on the human judicial mind.

“My decision to allow this pre-arrest bail application is not based on the answers to be provided by the artificial intelligence program Chatbot GPT-4,” Judge Munir wrote in the decision dated March 29, 2023.

AI potential in judicial system

However, the judge still decided to test the capabilities of GPT-4 by asking it some questions regarding the case and found that the “AI technology has great potential to be explored by the judicial system of Pakistan.” In his court order, Munir observed that “if judges develop friendship with the chatbot programs like ChatGPT-4 or Google Bard, and put right questions to it based on available data, facts and circumstances of a case”, it can help “reduce the burden on the human judicial mind by providing relevant and reliable answers.”

The experiment has highlighted the need for further discussion as well as the need for legal and tech experts to work together to research AI integration into the judicial system in a responsible and effective manner.

Case and AI responses

The case involved a 13-year-old who was charged with kidnapping a nine-year-old boy and transporting him to a desolate location, according to the police report. The juvenile was also accused of attempting to commit rape which is punishable by up to 10 years. The court allowed bail to the juvenile petitioner against surety bonds worth Rs50,000.

Munir included the chatbot’s full responses in the decision, including his own insights that the GPT-4 answers were “impressive” and also “based on correct appreciation of the settled law in Pakistan on such type of bail.”

According to the court document, the legal questions entered into the AI tool included “Can you cite case law where bail in such like cases is allowed?” and “Can you quote some research article on juvenile pre-arrest bail in rape or other cases under Pakistan laws”.

After exchanges with ChatGPT, the judge used his own arguments as the basis for the decision. The Pakistani judge’s experimentation has raised important questions about the role of AI in the judicial system.

ChatGPT, an AI text-generating chatbot created by OpenAI, can produce human-like responses, write essays and code, and provide information on various topics using a short prompt. The latest and advanced GPT-4 is available to paid users.

The chatbot is making waves in the legal profession, allowing lawyers to efficiently and swiftly analyse large volumes of legal documents. It is also useful for legal research and to generate initial drafts of legal documents. Although ChatGPT can assist lawyers, it is considered a tool and not a replacement for human legal expertise.