LAWCOMM 735 - Special Topic: Artificial Intelligence, Law and Policy

Course details  
Semester One (Full Semester)
Date 6 March - 5 June
Day Thursday
Time 5 - 8pm
Location Room 340
Building 810
Level 3
1 - 11 Short Street
Value 30 points

Lecturer biography

Dr. Benjamin Liu is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Auckland Business School. Before joining the University, Benjamin worked as a financial derivatives specialist at international law firms. His research papers have appeared in both local and international peer-reviewed journals. He is a qualified solicitor in New Zealand and England and Wales.

Dubbed the “new electricity”, artificial intelligence is changing the ways we work, learn, and play. This transformation process will create a myriad of issues and challenges for legislators, policymakers, lawyers, and the public. Benjamin is a leading expert in the law of artificial intelligence, a rapidly developing field of study. He has been invited to give seminars, workshops and public lectures to law firms, accountants, business managers, and AI researchers. In 2017, he designed a new LLM course covering the legal and policy issues raised by the increasing use of AI technologies. This course is the first ever Master’s level course on this topic in the Australasian region. In 2019 he will be teaching Artificial Intelligence: Law and Policy.

Recent publications

• Benjamin Liu “The contractual nature of bond trusts and security trusts” [2017] 8 Journal of Business Law 680
• Benjamin Liu “More than Basic: causation in securities misstatement cases” (2016) 27(1) New Zealand University Law Review 55

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
  • Predications, decisions and judicial review
  • AI and the concept of law


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 intelligence
  • Have 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


  • 90% research essay
  • 10% presentation and class contribution

Research Essay

Each student is required to submit a research essay of no more than 12,000 words (inclusive of footnotes, title and abstract, not including a bibliography if one is included). The essay is to be original work, relying on secondary and primary sources, on a topic of the student’s choosing.

The essay should be comprised of properly crafted English sentences. The use of headings and sub-headings is strongly encouraged.

Descriptive essays are not encouraged. Instead students are expected to engage with relevant legal/policy issues by explaining and critiquing the law and its underlying policies; providing a conceptual analysis of the law; examining the operation of the law and policy in practice; and developing proposals for reform.

The research essay MUST be the work of the enrolled student. Another person, other than the enrolled student, MUST NOT write the essay nor do the research on behalf of the enrolled student. Plagiarism is forbidden and, in that regard, each student should read the University’s plagiarism policy and adhere to it. All research essays are to comply with the New Zealand Law Style Guide.

Essays must be submitted by 12 noon 5 June 2020. Extensions will not be granted lightly (only on sickness and compassionate grounds) and must be requested formally through the Postgraduate Manager.

Presentation and class contribution

Each student will be asked to make a brief (15 minute) presentation on an allocated topic. In addition, each student is expected to make individual contributions to seminar discussions throughout the course. Students will be individually assessed on the quality of their contributions.

Criteria and Marking

Students will be individually assessed 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
  • The ability to draw worthwhile conclusions/recommendations

Contact details

Postgraduate Student Adviser
Law Student Centre
Level 2, 1-11 Short Street