I have used Artificial Intelligence to draft a Witness Statement
I have played about with Artificial Intelligence (AI) to draft a witness statement for my own use in support of an application to extend time for serve of a claim form. It was useful and saved me about an hour’s work. I had not drafted an application of this kind for years but due to unforeseen delays it had to be done quickly. I copied various case law decisions, relevant parts of CPR and provided a prompt to summarise the rules. Following further prompts in AI and applying some of the facts of the case, (making sure no confidential information was entered) a draft statement was churned out. Following further refinements, it did the tick and the Court extended the time for service of the claim form.
Can you draft a witness statement with AI for a client?
This is less certain and more troublesome as a statement on behalf of a client or witness must be in their own words not AI or indeed the solicitor for that matter.
The Civil Procedural Rules CPR make it clear. CPR 32 Practice Direction provides, in so far as relevant:
Body of witness statement
18.1 The witness statement must, if practicable, be in the intended witness’s own words and must in any event be drafted in their own language, the statement should be expressed in the first person and should also state:
(1) the full name of the witness,
(2) his place of residence or, if he is making the statement in his professional, business or other occupational capacity, the address at which he works, the position he holds and the name of his firm or employer,
(3) his occupation, or if he has none, his description,
(4) the fact that he is a party to the proceedings or is the employee of such a party if it be the case; and
(5) the process by which it has been prepared, for example, face-to-face, over the telephone, and/or through an interpreter.
18.2 A witness statement must indicate:
(1) which of the statements in it are made from the witness’s own knowledge and which are matters of information or belief, and
(2) the source for any matters of information or belief.
[Bold my own emphasis]
Just taking the last point first, ‘the source for any matters of information or belief’ the client or witness cannot refer to AI for the source of the evidence!
Further if we look at the requirements under this Practice Direction it is clear that the client or the witness’s own statement must be ‘drafted in their own language, the statement should be expressed in the first person.’ Therefore to use AI to draft a witness statement in this context is not compliant and indeed if cross examined by the opponent’s counsel, may lead to serious consequences for the solicitor and indeed the client or witness. The statement must also be drafted with the client or witness direct that is face-to-face or over the phone not with AI push button response.
Compliance with Statement of Truth
In addition a witness statement must be verified by a statement of truth as required by Practice Direction 32 and, unless the court otherwise orders, must also include the following confirmation, signed by the witness:
20.1 A witness statement is the equivalent of the oral evidence which that witness would, if called, give in evidence; it must include a statement by the intended witness in their own language that they believe the facts in it are true13.
20.2 To verify a witness statement the statement of truth is as follows:
‘I believe that the facts stated in this witness statement are true. I understand that proceedings for contempt of court may be brought against anyone who makes, or causes to be made, a false statement in a document verified by a statement of truth without an honest belief in its truth.’
20.3 Attention is drawn to rule 32.14 which sets out the consequences of verifying a witness statement containing a false statement without an honest belief in its truth.
(Rule 22.1(9) sets out the procedure to be followed where the person who should sign a document which is verified by a statement of truth is unable to read or sign the document other than by reason of language alone.)
But what does AI think?
Therefore a client or witness cannot verify and sign a statement of truth if the statement is drafted by AI. I challenged my opinion in AI and it came up with its own opinion set out below:
’Certainly, let’s consider a hypothetical scenario to illustrate why using AI in witness statements might pose challenges under CPR 32.
**Hypothetical Case: Smith v. XYZ Corporation**
In the case of Smith v. XYZ Corporation, a solicitor decides to employ AI tools to draft a witness statement for the claimant, Mr. Smith. The solicitor inputs key details and prompts into the AI system, generating a statement purportedly in Mr. Smith’s own words. However, when presented in court, several issues arise:
1. **Authenticity of Own Words:** CPR 32 emphasizes the witness’s statement should be in their “own words.” The AI-generated statement, even if crafted from prompts, might not truly reflect Mr. Smith’s unique language, tone, or personal nuances. This challenges the authenticity required by the rule.
2. **Transparency of Drafting Process:** CPR 32 also calls for transparency in the drafting process. Utilizing AI introduces an intermediary layer between Mr. Smith and the final statement. This raises questions about how the court may interpret the AI-assisted statement, potentially impacting the reliability and credibility of the evidence.
3. **Potential for Misrepresentation:** If the court perceives that AI significantly shapes the language and content of the statement, it may consider this a deviation from the spirit of CPR 32. There’s a risk of misrepresentation, as the AI-driven drafting might not align with Mr. Smith’s true recollection.
4. **Impact on Witness’s Testimony:** Using AI in the drafting process could lead to a situation where the witness, Mr. Smith, might struggle to confirm the statement truly represents his own words and experiences. This may undermine the purpose of witness testimony as a direct and unfiltered account.
In conclusion, a solicitor relying extensively on AI in crafting witness statements may be at risk of breaching CPR 32, particularly concerning the requirement for statements to genuinely reflect the witness’s own language and experiences. The court may scrutinize the authenticity, transparency, and overall impact on the witness’s testimony when AI is heavily involved in the drafting process.’
It’s not a bad effort! Would you agree? Let me know.
Summary AI and client’s witness statements
This witness statement must be in the client’s or witness’s own words and personal personal knowledge and recollection. It is difficult to see how the use of AI will comply with CPR.
However I can foresee within the next 5 years, if a solicitor can obtain a brief statement using a sample of own words used by a client or witness it may provide an improved understanding that could be compliant. Naturally the client or witness must proof read and approve the words and evidence to ensure everything presented is within the client’s knowledge.
At the moment if you do use AI to draft a statement for a client or witness the statement of truth will have to be amended to something like:
‘My AI prompt and myself believe that the facts stated in this witness statement are true. My AI prompt and I understand that proceedings for contempt of court may be brought against anyone who makes, or causes to be made, a false statement in a document verified by a statement of truth without an honest belief in its truth.’
Don’t think statement of truth will get passed a judge!