Regulators should consider giving incentives to law firms to adopt digital innovations to broaden access to justice, the sector's consumer watchdog says today as it climbs aboard the 'lawtech' bandwagon. Exploring incentives is one of nine ideas set out in a discussion paper from the Legal Services Consumer Panel.

While broadly in favour of digital technology, the paper says its adoption must be supported by a ‘robust regulatory framework’ to ensure it is 'fair, available and accessible'. It warns that as digital channels become the default, 'consumers who lack IT literacy, digital equipment, access to the internet or prefer to have human contact' will lose out. 'We would therefore encourage the regulators to consider choice in tandem with access, especially in relation to vulnerable consumers.'

The panel is the latest in a succession of bodies to point to the impact of algorithm-based artificial intelligence. It would 'encourage all regulators to consider how they could develop regulatory guidance to minimise the risk of biases'. Increasing transparency and auditability is crucial to building trust and confidence in AI, the paper states, revealing that research due to be published next month shows that nearly half of consumers lack trust in AI. 

Among the questions the paper asks readers to reflect on is: ‘Are you aware of any regulatory barriers that might hinder providers to innovate?'

Sarah Chambers, panel chair, said: 'We are at the inception stage of lawtech, it is therefore an opportune time to create a shared regulatory strategy, and creative plans for enhancing lawtech while protecting consumers.'