The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has today announced that artificial intelligence (AI) which can work 2,000 times faster than a human lawyer will be used on all new casework.

Through automatic document analysis, the agency will be able to ‘investigate more quickly, reduce costs and achieve a lower error rate’ than through the work of human lawyers, it said.

A pilot ‘robot’ able to process more than half a million documents a day, was implemented by the SFO to scan for legal professional privilege content in its case against Rolls-Royce. The SFO said the new system, called ‘Axcelerate’ and produced by software company OpenText, will be rolled out alongside the ’robot’. The office said this will enable SFO staff to ’better target their work and time in other aspects of investigative and prosecutorial work’.

A spokesperson for the SFO denied the new technology will cost jobs, insisting that it is ’very much a tool that will enable investigators to work through their cases quicker using new technology’.

The SFO said the document review system will be able to recognise patterns, group information by subject, organise timelines, remove duplicates and eventually be able to sift for relevance.

Ben Denison, chief technology officer at the SFO, said: ‘AI technology will help us to work smarter, faster and more effectively investigate and prosecute economic crime. Using innovative technology like this is no longer optional – it is essential given the volume of material we are dealing with and will help ensure we can continue to meet our disclosure obligations and deliver justice sooner, at significantly lower cost.’

Mark Barrenechea, vice chair and chief executive of OpenText, said advances in AI technology and the ability to review and analyse vast amounts of information will ’forever change the way the legal profession operates’.