Innovate UK backs law firm’s AI partnership with university

Scott: Ethical focus

The tech subsidiary of defendant law firm HF and Salford University have launched a partnership to build an artificial intelligence (AI) product which aims to transform claims handling.

Innovate UK is backing the project with a grant worth around £355,000, which will cover some of the costs of GC Tech, HF and the university in developing ‘expert legal intelligence’ (ELI).

David Scott, managing director of GC Tech and a partner at Manchester-based HF, said ELI aimed to help claims handlers at insurance companies “do their job with greater efficiency and accuracy, and assess claims far more quickly”.

HF already has a number of products which use AI to streamline or improve the claims process.

Mr Scott said the law firm’s online litigation triage (HOLT) system, which helps insurers assess claims for fraud, had helped clients save “tens of millions of pounds” over the past four years, along with “a huge amount of time”.

Another tech product, HOLLY, launched in 2021, uses text, email and chatbot technology to cut the time taken by drivers involved in accidents to provide signed statements.

He said the scope of ELI was much wider, covering “multiple aspects of a claim”, including indemnity, liability, fraud and quantum.

The other difference was the involvement of a university, which would focus its efforts on ensuring that outputs from ELI were “fair and unbiased” as well as on testing the product “right from the start”. HF’s 600 lawyers would also be involved in training the AI.

Mr Scott went on: “There has been a lot of publicity around the use of AI and concerns about how it is trained. This caused us to look at things in a different way. How we could assure people that we had thought about these issues from day one?

“We wanted to build a product that is not just effective, but has been developed in a really ethical way.”

Mr Scott said GC Tech was launched last autumn as a subsidiary of the law firm, to focus entirely on “new and emerging technology for our lawyers and clients”, and to partner with universities and secure grants.

This would enable the law firm to “do things differently and be disruptive” while building “more cutting-edge products”.

He said ELI – which relies on large language models, natural language processing and machine learning – was scheduled to go to market within 12 months, with the project with Salford University running for a total of 13 months.

Dr Taha Mansouri and Dr Ali Alameer, experts in natural language processing and AI ethics, are leading the development of ELI at Salford University.

Dr Mansouri commented: “We’re committed to developing AI solutions that are not only effective but also ethical and unbiased. Our partnership with GC Tech allows us to contribute our expertise in machine learning and ensure the technology adheres to legal and regulatory frameworks.”

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