LAWCOMM 749 - Special Topic: Artificial Intelligence: Law and Policy

Lecturer Biography

Benjamin Liu lectures in Financial Markets Law, Commercial Contracts and Managers and Law in the Commercial Law Department of the Business School, University of Auckland. In recent years he has developed a keen interest in the transformative potential of cognitive computers for legal services and legal education. Currently he is developing a cloud-based legal expert system that answers simple questions on consumer protection law. He has been interviewed on TV and radio discussing artificial intelligence and law. His other research interests include bond trust, causation and contribution claim, and has published both nationally and internationally in these fields.

Before entering academia, Benjamin worked at international law firms and a leading European bank, specialising in financial derivatives and structured products. He is a qualified solicitor in New Zealand and England and Wales.

Course Outline

Artificial intelligence is poised to become the fourth industrial revolution, fundamentally changing the way we live, work, and learn. This course seeks to explore the legal and policy aspects of artificial intelligence. In particular, the course will introduce the concepts of machine learning and artificial intelligence, examine how artificial intelligence changes the ways in which legal services are delivered and policy decisions are made, and evaluate the wider legal and policy issues created by the use of artificial intelligence


This course will cover the following topics:

  • History and philosophy of artificial intelligence
  • The basic concepts of machine learning and neural network
  • Overview of artificial intelligence in scientific research, education, finance, marketing,  transportation and other sectors
  • Artificial intelligence in law: legal research, legal reasoning and robot lawyers
  • The law of artificial intelligence: private law issues
  • Artificial intelligence and discrimination
  • Autonomous weapon and international law
  • Predications, decisions and judicial review

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this course students should be able to:

  • appreciate the importance of artificial intelligence as a subject for law and regulation
  • have a general understanding of machine learning and artificial intelligencehave a detailed knowledge of the current and emerging legal and policy issues created by applications of artificial intelligence
  • understand the legal responses under the current legislation and case law
  • provide suggestions as to the direction and approaches of future law reform


100% research essay of 6,500 words.

Each student is required to submit a research essay of no more than 6,500 words. The essay is to be original work, relying on secondary and primary sources. The essay should be comprised of properly crafted English sentences.  Students must also use proper legal citations and include a reading list at the end of their type-written essay. The use of sub-headings is encouraged and footnotes rather than Harvard style in-text referencing are to be used.

Essays must be submitted to the Auckland Law School, by 12 noon Thursday 16 November 2017.

Extensions will not be granted lightly (only on sickness and compassionate grounds) and must be requested formally through the Postgraduate Manager.

Cheating & Plagiarism

The University of Auckland regards cheating as a serious academic offence.

Plagiarism is a form of cheating. In coursework assignments submitted for marking, plagiarism can occur if you use the work and ideas of others without explicit acknowledgment. Work can be plagiarised from many sources, including books, journal articles, the internet, and other students’ assignments. A student’s assessed work may be reviewed against electronic source material using computerised detection mechanisms. Upon reasonable request, students may be required to provide an electronic version of their work for computerised review.

The way of avoiding plagiarism is to reference your work properly. If you are in doubt about how to reference properly, ask someone – your lecturers, tutors and the Student Learning Centre are good places to start.  Please refer to the following website for further information about academic referencing:

The document Guidelines: Conduct of Coursework provides further advice on how to avoid plagiarism.  It can be found at:

The penalties for plagiarism can be severe, including losing some or all of the marks for the assignment.  Major offences can be sent to the University’s Discipline Committee, where further penalties can be imposed.

Criteria & Marking, Class Participation

Students will be individually assessed on the quality of their research essays with reference to the following criteria:

  • the extent to which the student has identified the important and relevant issues;
  • the depth and thoroughness of understanding of the seminar material
  • the strength and clarity of the arguments presented;
  • the extent to which issues are placed in their wider context;
  • the overall lucidity of the contribution; and
  • the ability to draw worthwhile conclusions/recommendations.

Class Participation

Each student is expected to make individual contributions to seminar discussions throughout the course.

Reading Materials

The list of reading materials will be published on Canvas prior to the start of the course. Students must complete the required reading before the start of the course.

Teaching Method

The course will be taught three days commencing on 5 Oct 2017 (Thursday) and concluding at the end of 7 October 2017 (Saturday). 

Classes will be interactive and require students’ participation. It will be necessary for students to do the pre-reading for the course so that they get the most out of the materials under discussion.

Classes will commence at 9am and run till 5.00pm, with a lunch break at noon and one short break in the morning and in the afternoon.

Course Details

Semester: Two
Study mode: Intensive
Value: 15 points
Location: Building 810, Room 340, 1-11 Short St
Assignment due date:  

Contact details

Law Student Centre

Level 2, 1-11 Short Street

Lecturer contact details

Benjamin Liu
Office: OGGB 592
Phone: +64 9 9236448