Autonomous Vehicles: Law Commission launches its third and final consultation paper

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Autonomous Vehicles: Law Commission launches its third and final consultation paper

Published 22 diciembre 2020

Following a request made in 2018 by the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles, the Law Commission of England & Wales and the Scottish Law Commission jointly started a review of the regulatory framework to facilitate the safe use of automated vehicles on British roads.  The Commission’s final recommendations for legal change are due to be made in final quarter of 2021.

As a part of this process, the Commission has launched its third and final consultation paper.  The 392 page paper is the culmination of all the work undertaken by the Commission on this matter since the review was launched.

The purpose of the consultation is to elicit views on the Commission’s proposed regulatory framework. The proposals in the paper “develop a safety assurance scheme for the approval and deployment of AVs, safety and criminal liability” which include:

  • The creation of distinctive rules for two types of automated vehicle: Category-1 AVs that might require human driving for part of a journey (for example, AVs that only drive themselves on the motorway) and Category-2 AVs that can complete a whole journey unaided and without a user in the vehicle (such as a remotely operated taxi fleet).
  • Proposals to enhance safety, for the deployment of AVs on British roads and during their lifetime. This covers vehicle approval as well as software updates and cybersecurity risks. It includes a shift away from the criminal enforcement of traffic rules towards a new no-blame safety culture including a new range of regulatory sanctions.
  • New legal roles to reflect legal responsibilities arising from automated driving: for developers of AVs, users of AVs that are less than drivers but more than passengers (the user-in-charge), and AV fleet operators.

The Commission has identified a number of key questions on which it is seeking views, namely:

  1. the legal meaning of “self-driving”: the extent of residual responsibility linked with human intervention following transition demands and other events, and ‘how safe is safe enough’. We use Automated Lane Keeping Systems (ALKS) as a case study.
  2. a GB safety assurance scheme for automated vehicles, analysed in the context of the UK’s international obligations. We consider in-use safety including effective monitoring of real-world performance, collision investigation and regulation of software updates.
  3. the extent of criminal liability of corporations and senior managers which put AVs forward for approval.
  4. access to data that may be required by law to enable the regulatory scheme for AVs to function.

The Law Commission seeks responses by no later than 18th March 2021.

DAC Beachcroft has submitted detailed responses to both of the previous consultations, together with a summary of the Law Commission’s findings in response to its consultation on Highly Automated Road Passenger Services (HARPS). Links to these documents  are below.

Preliminary consultation on AVs - a response from DAC Beachcroft

Second consultation on AVs passenger services and public transport - a response from DAC Beachcroft

Summary of the Analysis of Responses to Consultation Paper 2 on Passenger Services and Public Transport

This, the third and final paper, will inform the Law Commission’s report to Parliament and is therefore of particular significance to motor insurers, vehicle manufacturers and other key stakeholders involved in the UK’s automotive industry. Our multi-disciplinary Autonomous Vehicles working group will be responding to the consultation paper. Should you wish to discuss any of the issues raised in the consultation paper please contact Peter Allchorne or Michael McCabe.


Peter Allchorne

Peter Allchorne


+44 (0) 117 918 2275

Michael McCabe

Michael McCabe

London - Walbrook

+44 (0) 20 7894 6315

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