In what can be described as an incidence of the criminalization of analytics – possibly the first on the planet – the Government of France has banned the reporting of statistical analysis of the decisions of individual judges. The maximum penalty for contravention of the new law is five years behind bars.

The Artificial Lawyer notes that “owners of legal tech companies focused on litigation analytics are the most likely to suffer from this new measure.” The Artificial Lawyer believes that the law – included in Article 33 of France’s Legal Reform Act – is the first instance of such legislation anywhere in the world.

French sources contacted by The Artificial Lawyer explained that the law arose from French judges’ displeasure with an unanticipated effect of the country’s recent efforts to make case law available to everyone, specifically the opportunity this freedom afforded analysts “to model how certain judges behave in relation to particular types of legal matter or argument, or how they compare to other judges.”

In short, [judges] didn’t like how the pattern of their decisions – now relatively easy to model – were potentially open for all to see. – Artificial Lawyer

The Artificial Lawyer article, which I highly recommend as it analyses in detail the causes and specific potential outcomes of the new law, points out that judges in the UK and US – unlike those in France – seem to have accepted that their decisions can now be analyzed and modelled.

Among other points at issue, The Artificial Lawyer wonders how a legal system can forbid the use of material that is legally available to everyone. I echo that question. What is your opinion?

I welcome your thoughts on this or any other matter relating to the law, either in the comments section below, or directly via email.