Law Commission launches automated vehicle consultation

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Law Commission launches automated vehicle consultation

Published 13 November 2018

The Law Commission of England & Wales and the Scottish Law Commission have, at the behest of the Department for Transport’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles, launched a wide ranging preliminary consultation to review the legal framework for automated vehicles ("AVs") including their use within public transport networks and in the provision of on-demand passenger services: consult.justice.gov.uk. The outputs from this consultation are likely to be a highly significant factor in shaping the rules and regulations that will, in due course, make AVs a reality on Britain’s roads.

In keeping with its stated primary objective of ensuring the safe implementation of driverless technologies, the Commission has also indicated that it will consider issues that arise in relation to the divide between self-driving vehicles and driver assistance systems that are already widely in use.

Terms of Reference

As part of the Commission’s three year review which is due to run until March 2021, the preliminary consultation will consider three key areas:

  • How can the safety of AVs be assured before they come to market, and what ongoing monitoring and maintenance requirements are required once they are on the road;
  • What changes are required to both civil and criminal liability; and
  • What adaptations are required to road traffic laws to accommodate the use of artificial intelligence (previously defined by the Government as “technologies with the ability to perform tasks that would otherwise require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, and language translation”)

Not in scope

The Commission has stated that while they "will be integral to delivering effective policy in this area", the following areas are predominantly outside the scope of the review:

  • Data protection and privacy;
  • Theft and cyber security; and
  • Land use policy

Although its proposals are stated not to rely on new forms of connectivity with other road vehicles or with the road infrastructure, the Commission has indicated that developments will be monitored and taken into account.

DAC Beachcroft says…

‘Collaborative stakeholder engagement is vital if these new technologies are to be embraced in line with the government’s ambitions’ comments Peter Allchorne, Motor Partner and member of DAC Beachcroft’s Automated Vehicle working group which is looking at all aspects of AV development. ‘As part of their approach to safety, we will be urging the Law Commission to look at paving the way for a more joined-up relationship between manufacturer, insurer and customer.’

Peter goes on to say: ‘Whilst this represents a sound starting point for tackling some of the key practical issues, the glaring omission of data and cyber risks from the Commission’s Terms of Reference for consideration means that there will still be plenty of work to be done between now and 2021 notwithstanding the outputs from this consultation.’

DAC Beachcroft will be preparing a response to the consultation which closes on 8th February 2019.

Authors

Peter Allchorne

Peter Allchorne

Bristol

+44 (0) 117 918 2275

Andrew Parker

Andrew Parker

London - Walbrook

+44 (0)20 7894 6232

Michael McCabe

Michael McCabe

London - Walbrook

+44 (0) 20 7894 6315

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