Lawtech, much like fintech, is everywhere. It is unlikely that any piece of technology is disconnected from the legal and financial infrastructures we build our commercial and personal lives upon and around. This pervasiveness signals the importance of the work of LawtechUK (read more about their important work here).
Organised under the auspices of LawtechUK, the Lawtech Delivery Panel (LTDP) is a forum bringing together legal sector leaders and experts from government, the judiciary, academia and technology, to promote and shape the use of technology in the UK’s legal sector. In November 2019, the Jurisdiction Taskforce (UKJT) of the Lawtech Delivery Panel published guidance on Smart Contracts and Cryptoassets, described by Sir Geoffrey Vos, current Chancellor of the High Court (and soon to be Master of the Rolls) as a “watershed moment”1.
This is undoubtedly true. LawtechUK is, in this way and many others, changing the face of the legal industry by helping to facilitate and catalyse new and emerging technologies. Smart legal contracts are one such technology that promises to revolutionise commercial transactions. The technology provides the ability to render documents in a machine-readable and executable format, and to link these to external IT systems, including new forms of representing legal property such as digital tokens or cryptoassets.
Today, LawtechUK announced another step in developing the technological basis of the UK’s legal sector. The Sandbox Pilot from LawtechUK will build, test and push the boundaries to address key challenges and help transform the lawtech sector.
I am incredibly fortunate to participate in the Sandbox to help build upon the work delivered through the UKJT to deliver support for the legal guidance. Building upon the open source technology developed through the Accord Project (and that underpins the Clause product)2 the pilot will work with UK government and regulators to help further establish a firm techno-legal foundation “for the trillions of smart legal contracts that we may then expect to be entered into annually”.3
- For all of the features built by the Clause team on top of the Accord Project codebase see: https://blog.clause.io/tag/new-features/ and on the importance of open source for smart legal contracts: https://blog.clause.io/tag/open-source/.
- Sir Geoffrey Vos, ‘Cryptoassets as property: how can English law boost the confidence of would-be parties to smart legal contracts?’. Joint Northern Chancery Bar Association and University of Liverpool Lecture, 19 May 2019. Available at: https://www.judiciary.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Sir-Geoffrey-Vos-Chancellor-of-the-High-Court-speech-on-cryptoassets-2.pdf.