This post is also available in: français (French)

Project Overview and Status

The Law Commission of Ontario’s (LCO) multiyear AI, ADM and the Justice System project brings together policymakers, legal professionals, technologists, NGOs and community members to discuss the development, deployment, regulation and impact of artificial intelligence (AI), automated decision-making (ADM) and algorithms on access to justice, human rights, and due process.

The catalyst for this project is the extraordinary growth in the use of these technologies by governments and public agencies across the world. AI and ADM systems are increasingly being used to make decisions affecting personal liberty, government benefits, regulatory compliance and access to important government services.  The growth in this technology has been controversial:  Questions about racial bias, “data discrimination,” “black box” decision-making and public participation have surfaced quickly and repeatedly when AI and ADM systems are used by governments.  These issues, and others, raise new and complex law reform issues that have not yet been addressed in Canada.

The LCO has assembled an expert Advisory Group to provide input over the course of the project.

Core Projects

AI and Automated Decision-Making in the Criminal Justice System

AI and algorithms are increasingly being used to support police and judicial decision-making in criminal justice systems across the world.

In October 2020, the LCO published The Rise and Fall of Algorithms in the American Justice System:  Lessons for Canada.  This Issue Paper considers the use of AI and algorithmic decision-making tools in bail and sentencing proceedings.  The paper provides Canadians with important insights and lessons about the use of AI and ADM in criminal justice.   This paper addresses issues such as data discrimination, the “metrics of fairness”, “scoring”, algorithmic accountability, best practices and public participation.  This report and more information about this issue is available here.

In June 2021, the LCO published AI Case Study: Probabilistic Genotyping DNA Tools Used in Canadian Courts.  This paper, authored by criminal defence counsel Jill R. Presser and Kate Robertson, considers the role and impact of AI-driven probabilistic genotyping (PG) technology to generate evidence used in criminal proceedings.  The paper addresses whether or how PG can meet the high standards of due process, accountability and transparency required by Charter and, by extension, the Canadian criminal justice systemThis report and more information about this issue is available here.

AI and Automated Decision-Making in the Civil/Administrative Justice System

This project is the civil and administrative law equivalent of the LCO’s criminal justice AI project.

In June 2022, the LCO published Accountable AI, a comprehensive analysis of how to address the risks of AI and ADM in government benefit determinations, child protection risk assessments, immigration determinations, regulatory compliance, and other decision-making in the civil and administrative justice systems.  The paper addresses AI regulation, “Trustworthy AI,” AI litigation, and how human rights and administrative law need to adapt to the challenges of government AI decision-making.

More on the LCO’s AI and Automated Decision-Making in the Civil/Administrative Justice System project is available here.

Regulating Government Use of AI and Automated Decision-Making

Governments across the world are increasingly using AI and automated decision-making (ADM) systems to determine government entitlements, prioritize public services, predict policing and support decisions regarding bail and sentencing.

The LCO’s Regulating AI: Critical Issues and Choices report is a ground-breaking analysis of how to regulate AI and automated decision-making (ADM) systems used by governments and other public institutions.  The report discusses key choices and options, identifies regulatory gaps, and proposes a comprehensive framework to ensure governments using AI and ADM systems protect human rights, ensure due process and promote public participation.  More on the LCO’s Regulating AI report is available here.

The LCO’s Comparing European and Canadian AI Regulation report compares and contrasts AI regulation in Canada and the European Union.  This paper considers the strengths and weaknesses of each approach and identifies lessons for Canadian policymakers.  This paper was written in partnership with the Research Chair on Accountable Artificial Intelligence in a Global Context at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law – Civil Law Section.  More information is available here.

Multidisciplinary Workshops on AI, Automated Decision-making and the Law

The LCO is organizing a series of collaborative, multidisciplinary workshops to discuss AI, automated decision-making and the law.  The workshops bring a wide range of stakeholders to collectively learn about the legal, operational, technological and practical issues and challenges of developing, deploying and regulating these technologies.  LCO workshops include:

  • In November and December 2020, the LCO organized a workshop in partnership with the provincial government’s Ontario Digital Service addressing disclosure, bias, due process and public participation in government AI and ADM systems. The LCO’s report, Legal Issues and Government AI Development, identifies major themes and practical insights to assist governments considering this technology.
  • In December 2019, the LCO hosted an invitational forum on automated decision-making in the civil and administrative justice system. The event brought together more than 30 policy makers, lawyers, jurists, technologists, academics, and community organizers to share experiences, discuss issues, and consider law reform options.
  • In March 2019, the LCO partnered with The Citizen Lab, the International Human Rights Program at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law and the Criminal Lawyers Association to host Canada’s first