Chatbots driven by artificial intelligence have become increasingly popular over the last couple of months due to their ability to generate human-like responses to various prompts.

While chatbots are able to answer a wide range of questions, it is important to note that you should not use these responses as a replacement for receiving legal advice from a qualified legal professional in the relevant jurisdiction.

Providing legal advice involves the application of legal knowledge and expertise to the specific factual situation, within the specific jurisdiction, and only lawyers can provide such advice.

While chatbots can usefully provide very general information about the law, they cannot take into account the unique circumstances of your case and the applicable laws and regulations of the New Zealand legal system.

Chatbots are machine learning models that rely upon statistical patterns in large datasets to generate responses. While they can generate responses that sound similar to those that a lawyer might give, they do not have the ability to assess the accuracy or reliability of the information they provide.

This is apparent by the New Zealand Law Society issuing warnings to lawyers not to rely upon chatbots as a tool to find case law. The cases appear real, as chatbots have learnt what a case name and citation should look like, however investigations have found that in many situations the cases provided by the chatbot were fictitious.

In the event that there is insufficient data to match what has been provided by the context of the user then it will fabricate facts and sources. This means that the responses that are generated by chatbots may not always be correct, relevant, or applicable to your specific situation.

Chatbots are not bound by any regulatory body, unlike conveyancing professionals, registered legal executives and lawyers. This means that chatbots are not subject to any of the same professional standards (such as client confidentiality) that would be expected of lawyers.

There is no guarantee that the information you would share with chatbots would not be accessed by other people, and this may compromise your case and/or your privacy. You would also not receive the benefit of any insurance protection the lawyer may have in place.

While artificial intelligence can be a useful tool for obtaining basic legal principles, and to provide accessible information to the general public, it is important that you do not rely on chatbots as being accurate or reliable legal sources.


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Rachel Collins and Charlotte Cameron

Senior Solicitor / Law Clerk