The UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO), a government department that investigates and prosecutes serious or complex fraud and corruption, has replaced barristers with artificial intelligence (AI) to review documents and identify legally privileged material.

While barristers were previously tasked with sifting through documents, the SFO’s new AI system is able to process more than half a million documents a day which is 2 000 times faster than a human lawyer. The AI system can group information, organise timelines, remove duplicates, and will eventually be able to sift the documents by removing those unrelated to an investigation.

The AI system was tested during a recent bribery investigation, where the system sorted through and analysed 30 million documents.

The SFO believes that using innovative technology is no longer optional, but essential to ensure that justice is delivered sooner. The AI system will now be used with all its investigations, including two new cases containing 50 million documents and 80 million documents respectively.

Other than delivering justice sooner than before, the SFO’s earl grey tea and biscuits bill is set to decrease drastically as AI does not need to be fed during tea time.