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Mishcon de Reya and University of York partner to improve evidence of judicial review decision-making through machine learning

Posted on 3 December 2021

Mishcon de Reya’s Data Science department and the York Law School of The University of York have agreed a partnership to explore how the use of machine learning can improve the availability of evidence relating to judicial review decisions.

The project aims to address the need for better evidence of decision-making in judicial reviews, a subject under increased scrutiny in recent years, and will also look at the wider logistical and ethical challenges of using these technologies and techniques, including data protection and privacy.

The York team, led by Dr Joe Tomlinson (member of Blackstone Chambers’ academic panel and Research Director at Public Law Project), will be joined by Mishcon de Reya’s Head of Litigation Data Daniel Hoadley and Data Scientist Editha Nemsic. Daniel and Editha will be focusing on the technical aspects of the project, while Dr Joe Tomlinson and Cassandra Somers-Joce will lead on the legal analysis.

The project is being funded by a combination of an Impact Acceleration Award from the Economic and Social Research Council, and supported by data experts at Mishcon de Reya. The underlying dataset being used for the project has been made available by vLex Justis.

Daniel Hoadley commented:

“The current state of the judicial review information landscape makes systematic and robust empirical studies of judicial review decision-making extremely difficult to carry out. Obtaining access to the raw data - the judgments - is a significant challenge. Even if that hurdle is cleared, the volume, length and complexity of the judgments require considerable research capacity to ensure the analysis is performed with sufficient speed and rigour. We aim to identify programmatic and machine learning techniques that can be deployed to lower the burden on researchers, by providing a sustainable, accurate and automated layer of analytical support.”

Editha Nemsic added:

"The need for innovative applications of machine learning techniques is what makes the project so exciting and promising, and demonstrates the powerful role that data science can play in improving access to evidence within the legal sector.”

More details and information explaining the context and objectives of the project are covered in a blog post here by the UK Constitutional Law Association. Full findings of the first phase of exploratory research will be published in 2022.

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