Book Review: The Law of Artificial Intelligence

This Kat is delighted to review The Law of Artificial Intelligence , edited by Matt Hervey, Head of Artificial Intelligence at Gowling WLG (UK) LLP, and Matthew Lavy, 4 Pump Court, an expert on disputes involving technology. The first of its kind to pull together a comprehensive coverage of the relevant legal provisions and issues around AI. Sir Geoffrey Vos, describes this edited collection, in the forward, as an: 

extraordinary and ground-breaking series of chapters on the most important issues that will affect all our futures: Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML).

The introduction, provided by the editors, sets out the premise of the book as being primarily on what the law is and the application of the law to real-world AI as it exists today. The aim of the book, therefore, is to give practitioners a thorough grounding in the technology of AI and the related ethical and regulatory problems that arise.

Chapter 2 by John Zerilli and Adrian Weller covers the technology – explaining machine learning with specific details on the different types including supervised, unsupervised, reinforcement and hybrid. Importantly, the authors point to the limitations as well as the strengths of machine leaning, and mentions some of the key legal challenges; reasonableness, explainability and foreseeability. 

In chapter 3 Law, Patricia Shaw covers Ethics and AI. Shaw provides a complete picture, her chapters presented in two parts; theory and practice. Starting from the beginning and covering the theoretical from the basics of what is ethics and why it matters in AI. In the second part Shaw provides a non-exhaustive list of questions that “every organisation designing, developing, deploying distributing and decommissioning AI should ask.” 

In Chapter 4 - International Regulation of AI - Jacob Turner sets out some of the major initiatives at a national, regional and international level (EU, UK, Germany, France, US, Japan, China, Singapore) identifying commonalities and trends across the global regulator codes, and concludes with a section looking at emerging best practices for organisations using AI. 

Toby Riley-Smith QC and Lucy McCormick look at Liability for Physical Damage in Chapter 5. Matthew Lavy and Iain Munro cover Liability for Economic Harm in Chapter 6, followed by Chapter 7 on AI and Professional Liability by Rebecca Keating and Laura Wright.

Chapter 8 will no doubt be of most interest to readers, covering Intellectual Property by Matt Hervey, Virginia Driver and Tom Woodhouse. The chapter runs 220 pages and is divided into 7 main sections – patent, copyright, data and database, design rights, trade marks, trade secrets and confidential information, and contractual measures. The chapter addresses the definition and scope of the rights, the requirements for authorship, rules of ownership, the nature of infringement and exceptions. The authors point to the relevant legal provisions as well as discussing the current uncertainties and limitations, for example in relation to the copyright protection of computer generated works under s9(3) CDPA 1988, the authors say:

It is therefore possible that the test for ‘own intellectual creation’ simply cannot be met by a computer-generated work

They key IP sections of the chapter conclude with a section that looks to the future by mentioning national and international consultations and research.  

Quentin Tannock and Rob Sumroy cover Data Protection and Privacy in Chapter 9, Bernardine Adkins discusses the limits on the use and control of AI and Data via Competition Law in Chapter 10 and Adam King looks at the Criminal Law implications in Chapter 11.

In Chapter 12 - AI and Smart Contracts - Lawrence Akka QC and Sam Goodman first provides some interesting background and clarification of terminology and then takes the reader through the formation of a legally binding contract which are relevant for smart contracts. 

In Chapter 13 Sophia Adams Bhatti looks at Algorithms in the Justice System: Current Practices, legal and Ethical Challenges, which focuses on the current tools deployed; predictive tools such as crime mapping and risk assessment, and facial recognition in policing. The author raises important concerns, of which there are many, and highlights that whilst there can be significant gains from well-governed use of such technology, it “ought not come at the cost of fundamental rights.”

In the last Chapter of the book Orlando Conetta looks at AI in the Legal Profession, considering whether law firms are embracing AI as much as the market suggests, or if it is just hype. The author concludes that the value of AI in the legal profession is not so much from automating people, but from adding deeper insight into the activities performed, suggesting that AI should be considered as “a set of tools and modes of thought that challenge us to lift he veil on the hidden trends that pervade our legal institutions and ultimately help inform us as to whether we are effectively delivering the rule of law in the 21st century."

This book is primarily aimed at practitioners, it a reference library necessary for those dealing with AI applications across multiple sectors. It collates the current legal issues arising from AI. The editors say: 

The law of AI in the UK promises to be a complex, evolving and significant area of law.

ISBN:  9780414074149

Published by: Sweet & Maxwell

Format:  Hardback


Book Review: The Law of Artificial Intelligence Book Review: The Law of Artificial Intelligence Reviewed by Hayleigh Bosher on Friday, April 16, 2021 Rating: 5


  1. Thank you Hayleigh for yet another interesting review! Could you clarify what the jurisdictions covered by chapter 8 (the IP chapter) are? Many thanks!

  2. Hi Ana, the patents section primarily covers legislation, decisions and procedures relating to the EPO, UKIPO and the Courts of England and Wales. The discussion of invention by AI draws on international case law and commentary. In the main, the analysis of other IP rights is based on harmonised EU law and the legislation and case law of England and Wales.


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