DOES THE LEGAL PROFESSION ADMIT TO THE USE OF ROBOT LAWYERS?
The legal profession does not admit the legal representation of litigants in Court whether to advice on what to say or advocate in real sense without the required qualifications. This is to prevent unauthorized practice of law.
For any individual or robot of any kind to be able to be given the right of an audience in Courts as a lawyer, he must satisfy the following conditions.
- He is a citizen of Nigeria.
- He produces a qualifying certificate to the benchers showing that he has attended the Nigerian law school, and has met all the requirements to be called to the bar.
- He has shown to the benchers that he is a person of good character.
- He is not a citizen of Nigeria, but has produced the qualifying certificate and has shown to the benchers that he is a person of good character.
- The body of benchers shall then issue him a Certificate of Call to Bar.
From the foregoing provisions of the Legal Practitioners Act, the operative word has been a person in human form belonging to a nation as its citizen, not an artificial intelligence aimed at copying the real person. It shows that a robot lawyer cannot be used in the practice of law to defend any litigants in a Court of law.
The words used from the Act are clear and the Courts have been of the attitude of giving words their literal meaning where they are clear and unambiguous Arguably, if a robot should be allowed to represent litigants in Court as a lawyer, then he must be called to the Bar.
Comparatively, admission to the Bar in the United States of America is that an individual must earn a juris doctor, pass law school approved by the jurisdiction, pass Bar examination administered by the regulatory authority of that jurisdiction, pass a professional responsibility examination and pass a character and fitness evaluation.
Locus standi, the Latin maxim which means the place of standing in Court, is the right of a person to appear in Court. It usually arises where an individual has a cause of action or interest which if proven, will entitle the defendant to the relief sought. This right solely lies with the Plaintiff or the Prosecutor as the case may be, it is sometimes shared among litigants having the same interest, and it can be delegated to the legal practitioner of one’s choice. Aside from these, no other has a place of standing in the Court, (to advice or suggest), save for the trial judge, the witnesses and in the case of the U.S.A, the jury. In light of this, where does one place the robot lawyer? A judge, a litigant whose interest is being affected, a lawyer who has been delegated by the litigant, or a witness? Nowhere. At best, it’s an interloper, who has no concern, a busy body which the Court frowns at Technology, with all of its positive impacts on the legal profession, does not at this moment match the basic requirement for its application as it relates to the use of the robot lawyer to represent litigants in Court.