Wednesday 19 April 2023

Do Irish Judges Rely on Wikipedia? New Study Strongly Disputes Previous Findings

High Court judges in Ireland have welcomed new research, co-authored by Mr Justice Richard Humphreys, which strongly contradicts a previous study which had claimed that Wikipedia influences judicial decision-making in the country. 

Last year, a paper claimed that the creation of a Wikipedia article on a Supreme Court case led to a 25% increase in its citations in subsequent Irish court cases, and identified an alleged "textual similarity" between the Wikipedia articles and the judgments. Judges strongly questioned these findings at the time.

Mr Justice Humphreys and a team of current and former judicial assistants have conducted new research, which they claim exposes flaws in the original study. 

A summary article has been published in the Irish Law Times, and the full paper submitted to the Cambridge Handbook of Experimental Jurisprudence. 

Mr Justice Humphreys stated that what he saw as the original paper's issues stem from both a flawed experiment and flawed speculation as to the meaning of the results. He asserted that public trust in the legal system should not be undermined by what he termed to be poor research. 

The president and other judges of the High Court have welcomed the new findings.


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