The Legal Services Board oversight regulator has assured ministers that it is on-message with the government’s 'pro-innovation' approach to artificial intelligence regulation. In a letter to technology minister Michelle Donelan MP and lord chancellor Alex Chalk MP published today, interim chief executive Richard Orpin states that the LSB is ’applying an AI lens across the breadth of our work’.

'Pro-innovation' has been the watchword of the government’s AI policy since the publication of a white paper on regulation a year ago. Ministers have contrasted the approach with that of the EU and, more recently, the US. In its letter, written in response to a request from the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, the LSB stresses that its guidance to frontline regulators is 'non-prescriptive' and 'aligns with the government’s approach'.

'We recognise the increasingly important role that technology, including AI, plays in society and its potential to improve the diversity and reach of legal services. We can see the potential for AI-based tools to increase efficiency and reduce costs, thereby supporting the legal sector to be more competitive,' the letter states. However it also notes that 'greater reliance on AI in the production of legal advice has the potential to introduce additional risks to consumers of legal services'.

'We encourage regulators to actively pursue the use of technology and innovation and undertake a pro-innovation approach to enabling better access to services whilst being cognisant of, and mitigating for, the risks associated with the use of technology, including AI tools,' the letter states. 

Regulatory challenges include the need for regulation to consider AI’s accountability, transparency and explainability, it states. However as the adoption of, and risks related to, AI vary across the sector 'individual regulators are best placed to assess these risks within their regulated communities and put in place mitigation strategies'.

The letter notes that such work by frontline regulators and representative bodies, including the Law Society and Solicitors Regulation Authority, has already begun. However it does not rule out becoming more involved, stating that the LSB will 'explore whether there are areas of research related to the use of AI in the sector that we may wish to undertake as part of our overall research programme'.


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