Henrik Palmer Olsen

Faculty of Law, University of Copenhagen
Paris IAS
10 months

Research Interests: Computational legal research; Applying Natural Language Processing to legal texts; Using Artificial Intelligence to support legal reasoning and decision making in law; Jurisprudence; Theory of law

Research Project

Algorithmic Support for Legal Decision Making (A-LEX)

As human judgment is increasingly interacting with algorithmic systems, the form and rationale of public decision-making will change. This challenges both the way public governance can be held accountable under democratic control and the extent to which algorithmic support systems can be realized. Without sufficient democratic anchoring and public trust, the promise of better informed and more efficient governance via algorithmic decision support will likely not be fulfilled. This project sets out to explore and provide solutions to this fundamental problem by researching the following overarching question:

How can algorithmic data processing be designed and used for legal decision-making systems across public institutions, while ensuring the rule of law?

A-LEX analyses how algorithmic decision support systems is transforming democratically rooted decision-making in public institutions, and how new technology can be developed and implemented in ways that support democratic principles.

A-LEX distinguishes between three different forms of algorithmic support for legal decision making in public institutions: algorithmically informed (involving processed data), algorithmically supported (involving some form of automated recommendation) and algorithmically automated (involving little to no human involvement) decisions. To explain how algorithmic systems potentially changes deliberation and reasoning in public institutions across these forms, A-LEX explores how the rule of law  can be retained and enhanced in this new technological context.


Henrik Palmer Olsen is a Professor of Jurisprudence at the University of Copenhagen (UCPH), Faculty of Law, where he was Dean for Research and Director of the Doctoral School. As co-founder of the Center of Excellence for International Courts (iCourts) he has pioneered research in computational law. He has also contributed to introducing computational law approaches in active litigation before the Supreme Court of Denmark. He has headed the evaluation of research quality in legal science, which was conducted on behalf of Research Council Norway 2020-2021.