By DebbieH 18 Dec 2017 7 min read

Laws on driverless cars, surrogacy, and smart contracts to be reviewed

The Law Commission has revealed the 14 areas of law to be reviewed over the next few years. These areas include automotive vehicles, surrogacy, residential leasehold, and the disposal of dead bodies.

The Law Commission Chair and Court of Appeal Judge, Sir David Bean, said that the programme “attracted unprecedented interest across a broad range of areas. The Commission has now refined these ideas into what I believe is a highly relevant and important series of law reform projects”. The Commission received its largest ever number of suggestions from the public on the issues most urgently in need of reform. More than 1,300 submissions were received on over 200 different topics.

The Law Commission said that the topics to be reviewed in the 13th Programme of Law Reform were chosen with a focus on reducing ‘unfairness for citizens’ and to help the UK remain a competitive force following departure from the European Union. The full list of topics can be found on the Law Commission website.

Sir David Bean also commented that: “We will also be making sure the law supports cutting edge technical innovation such as automated vehicles and smart contracts.” As the technology behind self-driving cars advances rapidly, the Commission seeks to ensure that any uncertainty in the law is eliminated by 2021. This uncertainty could include determining who is responsible in the case of an accident. The Law Commission said that “our three-year project will aim to promote public confidence in the safe use of automated vehicles, and to ensure the UK has a vibrant and world-leading automated vehicle industry.”

Some of the other topics have also been chosen with an eye on the future. The law around smart contracts is set to be reviewed, as are regulations relating to electronic signatures. A smart contract is “a self-executing contract, written in computer code, which automatically triggers various procedures according to its terms”. The uncertainty in current laws on such contracts and in the validity of electronic signatures is to be addressed with a view to “making the law simpler, clearer and fit for the future”.



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