Edinburgh Research Explorer

Prof Burkhard Schafer

Personal Chair of Computational Legal Theory

Willingness to take PhD students: Yes

AI and law; theories of legal reasoning; regulation of technology


I studied Theory of Science, Logic, Theoretical Linguistics, Philosophy and Law at the Universities of Mainz, Munich, Florence and Lancaster. My main field of interest is the interaction between law, science and computer technology, especially computer linguistics. How can law, understood as a system, communicate with systems external to it, be it the law of other countries (comparative law and its methodology) or science (evidence, proof and trial process). As a co-founder and co-director  of the  Joseph Bell Centre for Legal Reasoning and Forensic Statistics, I help to develop new approaches to assist lawyers in evaluating scientific evidence and develop computer models which embody these techniques. A special interest here is the development of computer systems that help law enforcement agencies to co-operate more efficiently across jurisdictions, assisting them in the interpretation of the legal environment within which evidence in other jurisdictions is collected. This research is linked to my wider interest in comparative law and its methodology, the idea of a "Chomsky turn in comparative law", and the project of a "computational legal theory".

I'm involved with a number of organisations that promote the exchange between computer science and law, including the German Association for Informatics, BILETA, and the Evidence and Investigation network of the Scottish Institute for Policing Research. I'm also on the Nomination Committee of the International Association for Artificial Intelligence and Law.

I'm currently the Director of the  SCRIPT Centre for IT and IP law,  working mainly on issues such as privacy compliant software architecture and more generally the scope and limits of representing legal concepts directly  in the internet infrastructure. 


Research outputs

  1. On living and undead Wills: ZombAIs, technology and the future of inheritance law

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

  2. The man who wasn't there again: Creative informatics and legal AI

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

View all (129) »

Research activities & awards

  1. European Lawyers association Annual Meeting

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesPublic Engagement – Public lecture/debate/seminar

  2. BILETA Annual Conference 2017

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference

  3. CO:OPyright: Challenges and Practices of Copyright and Licensing of Digital Cultural Heritage

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

View all (89) »

ID: 26690