Dr Adam Harkens

Birmingham Law School
Research Associate

Contact details

Birmingham Law School
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Adam is a Research Associate specialising in algorithmic decision-making in the criminal justice system. He is currently working with Professor Karen Yeung (together with 4 German research teams from computer science, neuropsychology, law and political science) on the Volkswagen Stiftung-funded FATAL4JUSTICE? project. This project critically analyses algorithmic decision-making in the criminal justice system from multiple intersecting disciplinary perspectives. Adam and Professor Yeung, as one research team, are responsible for investigating whether the use of ADM systems in the UK and USA is consistent with fundamental principles of the criminal justice system.

Adam’s research interests more generally relate to the socio-legal and theoretical implications of new and emerging technologies on decision-making, data protection law, surveillance, and platform technologies – including legal, technical and ethical modes of regulation and control.


  • Doctor of Philosophy in Law (PhD) – Queen’s University Belfast
  • Master’s in Legal Science (MLegSci) – Queen’s University Belfast
  • Bachelor of Arts in Modern History and Politics (BA) – Queen’s University Belfast


Adam obtained his PhD from Queen’s University Belfast in 2019. His thesis was entitled ‘Law on the Horizon of Algorithmic Governmentality: Legal Innovation, Machine Learning and (Semi-)automated Justice’.


Adam’s work focuses on the effect of using algorithmic tools and machine learning for decision-making in the criminal justice system, and the ways in which this interacts with existing frameworks, principles and rights, to produce new conflicts and transformations in how decisions are made, individuals are treated, and legal concepts are invoked.

Other activities

Adam is a regular speaker at academic conferences (e.g. SLSA, CLC, TRILCon, BILETA) and stakeholder roundtables (e.g. RUSI, Bonavero Institute, Royal Irish Academy).

He has also recently worked closely with the Société de Législation Comparée and the Dutch Council of State (alongside Dr. Joe Tomlinson, King’s College London) on a project investigating the automation of administrative decision-making across jurisdictions. Adam presented the findings of this project at the Dutch Council of State in April 2019.

Adam was a founding member of LawPod, at Queen’s University Belfast, which is a collaborative project bringing together staff and students to explore legal issues in a creative, engaging and accessible way.


Journal articles:

(i)              'Re-engineering justice? Robot Judges, Computerized Courts and Semi-automated Legal Decision-making' (Co-authored with Prof. John Morison) [2019: Online First] Legal Studies

(ii)            ‘The ghost in the legal machine: algorithmic governmentality, economy, and the practice of law’ [2018] Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society, 16(1), p.16-31, https://doi.org/10.1108/JICES-09-2016-0038.

Book chapters:

(i)              ‘Algorithmic Justice: Dispute Resolution and the Robot Judge?’ (Co-authored with Prof. John Morison) [2018] in The Handbook of Comparative Dispute Resolution, M. Moscati, M. Roberts and M. Palmer (eds.), Edward Elgar Publishing [2018]

(ii)            ‘Principle of Participation’ (Co-authored with Prof. John Morison) [2018] in The Max Planck Encyclopedia of Comparative Constitutional Law, R. Wolfrum, F. Lachenmann and R. Grote (eds.), Oxford University Press

View all publications in research portal