The U.K. Serious Fraud Office has announced a significant upgrade to its document analysis capability, as artificial intelligence is made available to all of its new casework beginning this month. By automating document analysis, AI technology allows the SFO to investigate more quickly, reduce costs, and achieve a lower error rate than through the work of human lawyers, alone.

Able to process more than half a million documents a day, a pilot “robot” was recently used to scan for legal professional privilege content in the SFO’s Rolls-Royce case at speeds 2,000 times faster than a human lawyer. According to the SFO, Rolls-Royce was the largest SFO investigation and marked the first use of artificial intelligence in a U.K. criminal case. It enabled the estimated 30 million documents provided by the company to be analysed for material potentially covered by Legal Professional Privilege.

Building on this success, ‘Axcelerate’ a new AI powered document review system from OpenText, is now being rolled out alongside the robot and will enable SFO case teams to better target their work and time in other aspects of investigative and prosecutorial work.

Previously, only independent barristers were used to comb through thousands of complex documents to identify evidence that could or couldn’t be seen by SFO investigators prior to them even beginning to sift through the documents themselves.

The new AI document review system not only will be able to recognise patterns, group information by subject, organise timelines, and remove duplicates, it will eventually be able to sift for relevancy, thereby removing documents unrelated to an investigation.

“AI technology will help us to work smarter, faster, and more effectively investigate and prosecute economic crime,” said SFO’s Chief Technology Officer, Ben Denison said. “Using innovative technology like this is no longer optional, it is essential given the volume of material we are dealing with and will help ensure we can continue to meet our disclosure obligations and deliver justice sooner, at significantly lower cost.”

“The amount of data handled by our digital forensics team has quadrupled in the last year and that trend is continuing upwards as company data grows ever larger,” Denison added.

“Advances in AI technology, the ability to review and analyse vast amounts of information, and provide timely and meaningful insights will forever change the way the legal profession operates,” said Mark Barrenechea, vice chair, CEO and chief technology officer at OpenText.

Law enforcement organisations in the United Kingdom, and as far away as Australia, have looked to the SFO to share its experience of the technology, which will help investigators speed up casework and piece together evidence faster than ever before.

The SFO will begin managing all new cases with the technology this month, with one case already exceeding Rolls-Royce in size with over 50 million documents requiring review and another larger than both cases combined.