A Dubai law firm will help clients navigate the metaverse and seek justice in cases involving self-driving car accidents as part of a push to keep pace with an evolving legal landscape.
Araa Advocates Group has established a dedicated department staffed with lawyers who specialise in handling cases related to technology and artificial intelligence.
Dr Abdullah Al Nasser, an Emirati lawyer and founder of the practice, said it was crucial for legal experts to adapt to the new challenges posed in the digital age to better serve the public.
“We had to upskill our staff and enhance our tools to equip ourselves with the necessary technology knowledge to represent our clients effectively and keep pace with the rapid deployment of AI tools in Dubai and the UAE,” Mr Al Nasser told The National.
They will continually update their knowledge and expertise to work effectively on cases involving emerging technology.
“We recognised that we are entering a new era and that’s why it was crucial for us to launch this department,” said Dr Al Nasser.
“If an accident involving a self-driving car happened for example, it's essential for a lawyer to be able to identify all involved parties,” he said.
It is not just about the drivers involved or road conditions, he said.
“The car operates based on a programmed system that runs on the internet, so we must consider the driver, the programme and even the internet providers.”
This example explained why it is important for lawyers to fully comprehend rapid changes in technology to handle such cases effectively, he said.
It is particularly pertinent given that Dubai aims to have 25 per cent of all journeys made using autonomous means by 2030. The emirate is currently testing self-driving taxis on roads.
The firm is also establishing a digital law centre.
“We are partnering with an IT and cyber security company to ensure our centre is well-equipped to provide comprehensive training in this field,” he said.
Their lawyers will also start providing legal assistance to small IT projects, offer guidance on cryptocurrency and virtual asset trading, and collaborate with government authorities.
“Lawyers capable of addressing the challenges posed by AI technologies would play a crucial role in shaping policies and regulations governing the this sector.”
Ajmalul Hossain, a barrister and international arbitrator at Selborne Chambers in London, welcomed efforts to regulate the use of cutting-edge technology.
“This progress and these laws were key factors in establishing my professional presence in Dubai,” said Mr Ajmalul.
He said with a presence of regulatory laws and an environment that allows and encourages development, more lawyers should specialise in AI and technology-related cases.
“It will enhance legal digitisation, and prepare experts capable of analysing AI-related legislation and policies.”
Khaled Al Mazmi, an Emirati researcher in public international law, said the legal system had a key role to play in a digital future.
“Integrating AI into domestic and international interactions led to ethical debates, and international efforts have converged to regulate AI through agreements like those initiated by the International Labor Organisation in 2015,” said Mr Al Mazmi.
He said the UAE had embraced the rise of AI in recent years, as illustrated by its appointment of the world's first AI Minister in 2017.
Omar Al Olama, who serves as Minister of State for AI, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications, was named one of the 100 most influential people in AI in a Time magazine list released last month.
“Our national AI strategy aims to achieve the UAE Vision 2071, with a focus on 100 per cent AI utilisation by 2031,” said Mr Al Mazmi.
Technology can help speed up legal processes, from drafting decisions to handling litigation.
But Mr Al Mazmi said it was vital that humans remain at the heart of decision-making.
“Some functions in the legal sector require human judgment where AI falls short in logical and ethical reasoning, and this is why we need more experts across the legal sector,” he said.
Dubai's new digital court
Justice Michael Black, the head of the Dubai International Financial Centre’s Digital Economy Court, previously told The National that work in the legal sector would probably change due to the introduction of AI in trading and commerce.
“Maybe not tomorrow but the handling of freight and payments is poised to become increasingly autonomous, with fewer human interventions,” he said.
“We will see an industry with minimal human interaction, driven by AI systems that learn and generate profits for investors. Courts need to catch up with this trend.”
He said the legal system had to be ready to adapt to a changing society.
“It’s a new area and we are in no doubt that the wave is coming,” Justice Black told The National.
“We have to look at what was said to be science fiction about seven years ago and is now science fact.”