- At Kemp Little, we are known for our ability to serve the very particular needs of a large but diverse technology client base. Our hands-on industry know-how makes us a good fit with many of the world's biggest technology and digital media businesses, yet means we are equally relevant to companies with a technology bias, in sectors such as professional services, financial services, retail, travel and healthcare.
- Kemp Little specialises in the technology and digital media sectors and provides a range of legal services that are crucial to fast-moving, innovative businesses.Our blend of sector awareness, technical excellence and responsiveness, means we are regularly ranked as a leading firm by directories such as Legal 500, Chambers and PLC Which Lawyer. Our practice areas cover a wide range of legal issues and advice.
- Our Commercial Technology team has established itself as one of the strongest in the UK. We are ranked in Legal 500, Chambers & Partners and PLC Which Lawyer, with four of our partners recommended.
- Our team provides practical and commercial advice founded on years of experience and technical know-how to technology and digital media companies that need to be alert to the rules and regulations of competition law.
- Our Corporate Practice has a reputation for delivering sound legal advice, backed up with extensive industry experience and credentials, to get the best results from technology and digital media transactions.
- In the fast-changing world of employment law our clients need practical, commercial and cost-effective advice. They get this from our team of employment law professionals.
- Our team of leading IP advisors deliver cost-effective, strategic and commercial advice to ensure that your IP assets are protected and leveraged to add real value to your business.
- Our litigation practice advises on all aspects of dispute resolution, with a particular focus on ownership, exploitation and infringement of intellectual property rights and commercial disputes in the technology sector.
- We have an industry-leading reputation for our outsourcing expertise. Our professionals deliver credible legal advice to providers and acquirers of IT and business process outsourcing (BPO) services.
- We work alongside companies, many with disruptive technologies, that seek funding, as well as with the venture capital firms, institutional investors and corporate ventures that want to invest in exciting business opportunities.
- Our regulatory specialists work alongside Kemp Littles corporate and commercial professionals to help meet their compliance obligations.
- With a service that is commercial and responsive to our clients needs, you will find our tax advice easy to understand, cost-effective and geared towards maximising your tax benefits.
- At Kemp Little, we advise clients in diverse sectors where technology is fundamental to the ongoing success of their businesses.They include companies that provide technology as a service and businesses where the use of technology is key to their business model, enabling them to bring their product or service to market.
- We bring our commercial understanding of digital business models, our legal expertise and our reputation for delivering high quality, cost-effective services to this dynamic sector.
- Acting for market leaders and market changers within the media industry, we combine in-depth knowledge of the structural technology that underpins content delivery and the impact of digitisation on the rights of producers and consumers.
- We understand the risks facing this sector and work with our clients to conquer those challenges. Testimony to our success is the continued growth in our team of professionals and the clients we serve.
- We advise at the forefront of the technological intersection between life sciences and healthcare. We advise leading technology and data analytics providers, healthcare institutions as well as manufacturers of medical devices, pharmaceuticals and biotechnological products.
- For clients operating in the online sector, our teams are structured to meet their commercial, financing, M&A, competition and regulatory, employment and intellectual property legal needs.
- Our focus on technology makes us especially well positioned to give advice on the legal aspects of digital marketing. We advise on high-profile, multi-channel, cross-border cases and on highly complex campaigns.
- The mobile and telecoms sector is fast changing and hugely dependent on technology advances. We help mobile and wireless and fixed telecoms clients to tackle the legal challenges that this evolving sector presents.
- Whether ERP, Linux or Windows; software or infrastructure as a service in the cloud, in a virtualised environment, or as a mobile or service-oriented architecture, we have the experience to resolve legal issues across the spectrum of commercial computer platforms.
- Our clients trust us to apply our solutions and know-how to help them make the best use of technology in structuring deals, mitigating key risks to their businesses and in achieving their commercial objectives.
- We have extensive experience of advising customers and suppliers in the retail sector on technology development, licensing and supply projects, and in advising on all aspects of procurement and online operations.
- Our years of working alongside diverse software clients have given us an in-depth understanding of the dynamics of the software marketplace, market practice and alternative negotiating strategies.
- Working with direct providers of travel services, including aggregators, facilitators and suppliers of transport and technology, our team has developed a unique specialist knowledge of the sector
- Your life as an entrepreneur is full of daily challenges as you seek to grow your business. One of the key strengths of our firm is that we understand these challenges.
- Kemp Little is trusted by some of the worlds leading luxury brands and some of the most innovative e-commerce retailers changing the face of the industry.
- HR Bytes is an exclusive, comprehensive, online service that will provide you with a wide range of practical, insightful and current employment law information. HR Bytes members get priority booking for events, key insight and a range of employment materials for free.
- FlightDeck is our portal designed especially with start-up and emerging technology businesses in mind to help you get your business up and running in the right way. We provide a free pack of all the things no-one tells you and things they dont give away to get you started.
Is the rapid approach of driverless vehicles accelerating the need for legal change?
Legal regulatory changes on the horizon for driverless cars.
Governments in the UK do not typically have reputations as visionary thought-leaders, facing some of the most challenging political questions of a generation. British politicians are even less likely to be focused on challenging Musk and Hawking for the ‘World’s Leading Futurist’ crown.
So what did we learn when the Chancellor delivered his Autumn Budget, announcing that he wanted to create “the most advanced regulatory framework for driverless cars in the world” and “the government wants to see fully self-driving cars, without a human operator, on UK roads by 2021”?
Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future
We can safely presume that within the next decade, we will see driverless vehicles on public roads, unleashed from their test environments. Uber recently announced plans to buy 24,000 autonomous cars from Volvo, while Google affiliated ‘Waymo’, announced that their fully driverless cars have been driving around Arizona, without a safety driver at the controls, for months. This is industry validation that we’re approaching the event horizon for publicly available driverless vehicles.
The focus is rapidly shifting from validating the capability of the driverless vehicle tech to scrutinising the suitability of existing legislation to deal with this technology. The US and UK have seen plenty of theoretical ‘thought pieces’ on holistic issues raised by driverless vehicles (and artificial intelligence more generally). However, it is only recently that legislators have begun to fully recognise that the topics have evolved from abstract sci-fi debates to practical real-world issues.
Regulatory approach to date
So, where are we with the UK regulator’s approach to automated vehicles? Here we mean both fully autonomous vehicles, capable of being operated with little or no input by a driver, as well as automated technologies which support the operation of a vehicle by a driver.
In February 2015, the DfT published ‘A detailed review of regulations for automated vehicle technologies’, together with a ‘Summary report and action plan’, under the heading “The Pathway to Driverless Cars“. These documents set out the UK government’s plan to update laws and regulations to permit the sale of automated vehicles to the public, and included plans to develop a code of practice for testing automated vehicles, while reviewing legislation to clarify liabilities in the event of a collision, and consider whether higher standards of safety are required (including dealing with cyber threats).
Additionally, a draft ‘Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill’ was announced during the Queen’s Speech in February 2017, which included proposed automated vehicle specific legislation, relating to record keeping, insurance and accidents relating to uninstalled software updates. The Bill passed a second reading in October 2017.
Is driving software likely to become a ‘person’?
The automated vehicle is often cited as a practical example in a legal debate surrounding artificial intelligence more broadly. Discussion on AI also focusses on issues around ethics and the concept of legal personality. The question was asked by the EU Commission in the January 2017, following a recommendation by their Legal Affairs Committee on whether robots and indeed other AI technology, should be granted ‘personhood’ status.
The law places a strong emphasis on ‘the person’, which drives concepts such as ownership and both civil and criminal liability. That concept initially attached to the human – people owning things, people committing crimes or entering into agreements. But we have seen our laws adapt, and in our modern world, we have stretched the concept of legal personality. We have created intangible entities – limited companies, PLCs, LLPs etc., which are all capable of ownership and liability in their own right.
This means they can enter into contracts, incur debt and be held accountable for their actions, and they are distinct from the identities of their shareholders, directors, parent or subsidiary companies. In 2017, for environmental protection reasons, we have seen the Whanganui River in New Zealand granted legal status and an attempt to do the same for the Ganges in India. In October 2017 a robot called “Sophia” was granted citizenship status by Saudi Arabia – triggering a wave of interesting discussions and repercussions, such as whether Saudi robots have more rights than women.
The law could be amended to give some form of legal status (and so responsibility/accountability) to driving technologies – as we already have a precedent for amending this legal concept. However, a key question is what are we trying to achieve in doing this?
This question forms the other current focus of regulators regarding automated vehicles and artificial intelligence – the underlying ethical principles, which govern the operation of the tools.
Both the UK and EU and approach has been to flag that reaching conclusions on the various ethical debates on AI and robots is fundamentally important. Indeed, in his November budget, the UK Chancellor provided the further investment required to progress ethical think-tanks and their recommendations.
Questions such as “should the driverless vehicle choose the elderly pedestrian or the young family to crash into?” are now being debated in the public domain. Reaching conclusions on these questions, which should involve factoring in both public opinion, and ongoing Government supported research – will allow us to shape the next phase of legislation. Clearly, with this revolutionary technology so close to being publicly available, we cannot wait too long for the legislation to catch-up.