SRA leads Agile Nations project to create global legal services market

Callanan: Blazing a trail for regulators around the world

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is leading a project called the Agile Nations Lawtech Innovation Network (ANLIN) aimed at helping to create a global market for legal services.

It is one of 10 initiatives agreed this week by the seven countries that make up the Agile Nations – the UK, Denmark, Canada, Italy, Japan, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which between them account for 15% of global gross domestic product.

Launched last December with the support of the World Economic Forum and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Agile Nations reflects the seven countries’ commitment to creating a regulatory environment in which new ideas can thrive.

The agreement paves the way for them to cooperate in helping innovators navigate each country’s rules, test new ideas with regulators and scale them across the seven markets.

Priority areas for cooperation include the green economy, mobility, data, financial and professional services, and medical diagnosis and treatment

A conference held this week by the seven countries under the UK’s leadership was also joined by observer member Finland, which is contributing on an ad hoc basis.

The 10 projects are across six priority workstreams that sit at the heart of technological advancements: pro-innovation approaches to regulation; data and communications; green tech; medical devices and treatments; mobility; and professional business services.

It is under the latter heading that the SRA is leading the multilateral project with support from legal organisations in Canada and the UAE as members, along with Singapore and other legal jurisdictions as observers.

The ANLIN project, which will run to March 2022, is described as “a collaborative knowledge-sharing initiative aimed at advancing areas including lawtech ethical standards, access to justice, consumer protection and competition”.

The UK government explained: “It supports a sustainable global market in legal services through innovative legal services, by sharing experiences, working jointly on lessons learned, helping innovators navigate regulation across borders and facilitating responsible cross-border experimentation of new ideas.”

Three key drivers for the working group’s activities have been identified with the goal of building international collaboration and gaining a shared understanding of the impact of lawtech:

  • Collaboration – the production a set of high-level principles to be agreed by participants as a common platform to respond to innovators making contact from other jurisdictions
  • Communication – the sharing of the benefits of using legal tech based on the experience of the leading lawtech jurisdictions through a series of case studies that other nations can use; and
  • Consumer-focused – highlighting the ethical considerations and data protocols in place to ensure the protection of client data across the jurisdictions when legal technology is being used.

The announcement continued: “This project will show that lawtech offers positive developments globally for both legal professionals and for legal services users, helping to improve efficiency, overcome access to justice barriers and reduce costs.

“The project will also highlight the common themes and questions lawtech raises and the distinctions highlighted by different legal systems and international approaches in legal services provision.”

SRA chair Anna Bradley said “We’re pleased to be chosen to lead one of the ten projects ministers selected for the Agile Nations programme. The project will test how lawtech can benefit the consumers of legal services and the legal professions alike.”

“We will be working closely with our lead partners in Canada and UAE, and engaging observers from Singapore and other jurisdictions, to gain a shared understanding of the impact and potential economic boost that lawtech can bring for professional services.”

Business minister Lord Callanan said: “Unleashing innovation and entrepreneurship will be key as we look to build back better from the pandemic, and the UK is ready to work with like-minded countries to make this happen.

“The projects agreed today will blaze a trail for regulators around the world, promising new opportunities on the horizon for our most innovative businesses, helping them thrive across borders.”

Other projects include ironing out potential cyber-security issues in the Internet of Things, tackling food production challenges in countries that face water scarcity, and improving the flow of cargo in supply chains by developing an international coordinated and harmonised approach to pre-loading advance cargo information.

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