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European Ethical Charter on the Use of Artificial Intelligence in Judicial Systems and their environment

Full name of the document
CEPEJ - European Ethical Charter on the Use of Artificial Intelligence in Judicial Systems and their environment
Body / organism enacting the document
European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ) of the Council of Europe
Nature of the body / organism
International body
Type of document
Ethical principles
Project area
AI and justice
Law area
Criminal law
Privacy / data protection
Fundamental rights protection

Summary of the document

The European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ) advocates that AI applications in the realm of justice can enhance efficiency and quality but must be deployed responsibly, in line with fundamental rights outlined in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Personal Data. It emphasises the importance of maintaining AI as a tool serving the common good while upholding individual rights.

Outlined within the Charter are core principles that should govern the intersection of AI and justice:
1.    Respect for fundamental rights: AI tools and services must align with fundamental rights in their design and implementation.

2.    Non-discrimination: Measures must be in place to prevent discrimination against individuals or groups.

3.    Quality and security: Judicial data processing should employ certified sources and models developed with a multidisciplinary approach, within a secure technological environment.

4.    Transparency, impartiality, and fairness: Methods of data processing should be accessible and understandable, allowing for external audits.

5.    Under user control: Users should be informed and in control of their choices regarding AI applications, discouraging a prescriptive approach.

Type of addressees
Policymakers, legislators, and justice professionals
Territorial scope
Situations involved

In December 2018, CEPEJ of the Council of Europe established the first European guidelines on ethical principles concerning the utilisation of artificial intelligence (AI) within judicial systems. This Charter aims to offer a set of principles to aid policymakers, legislators, and justice professionals in navigating the rapid integration of AI into national judicial processes.

AI system(s) involved
  • All types of AI systems
  • Specific intended purpose AI
  • Machine learning
Fundamental rights involved
  • Right to access to justice, to a fair trial and to jury trial
  • Right to an effective remedy
  • Right to data protection
  • Right to privacy
  • Right to non-discrimination
Principles expressly addressed
  • Due process
  • Effective (judicial) protection
  • Equality
  • Explainability
  • Non-discrimination
  • Precautionary
  • Rule of law
  • Transparency
Connection with hard law

European Convention on Human Rights
Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data, ETS No. 108 as amended by the CETS amending protocol No. 223
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

Possible legal force and impact on national/supranational legal system

By establishing principles for the ethical use of AI, the Charter can influence national and supranational policies, acting as a benchmark for evaluating AI systems in the judiciary. It has the potential to harmonize the approach to AI across different jurisdictions, reducing discrepancies in how AI is used and regulated in the judicial context. It also offers legal and ethical guidelines that can inform the development, deployment, and use of AI technologies, ensuring that they are in line with fundamental rights and democratic values.  The adoption of the Charter’s principles can lead to changes in judicial practices and procedures, including how evidence is evaluated, how decisions are made, and how transparency and accountability are maintained.  By promoting ethical principles such as transparency, fairness, and respect for privacy, the Charter can enhance public trust and confidence in the use of AI within judicial systems

Case author
Ivo Emanuilov
LIBRe Foundation