Tel: 0203 319 3643

Fax: 0208 894 5300

Emergency: 0750 625 5550

Lawtech initiative ‘created a sense of urgency’

By Michael Cross >>

(30 May 2022)

An initiative set up with £2m of government money to boost legal technology has ‘created a sense of urgency’ around the development and adoption of lawtech, according to an evaluation published today. LawtechUK has so far leveraged £2.30 – £2.60 from the private sector for every £1 it received from the government, an external impact assessment estimates. Staff contributions from the private sector included staff secondments, free advice and assistance with design and development of content. 

LawtechUK was set up under the Tech Nation programme in 2019, with a government grant of £2m. Its goals included encouraging investment in and understanding of lawtech and establishing ‘an appropriate and flexible ethical regulatory basis’. This would enhance the UK’s competitiveness as a commercial dispute resolution centre.

In its first phase, completed this spring, the initiative set up a ‘sandbox’ to test innovative ideas and carried out work on ‘smart’ contracts and digital assets, data sharing and an online dispute resolution platform for SMEs. 

According to the evaluation, the initiative has:

  • Created a ‘sense of urgency’ about the development of lawtech. The initiative ‘played an important convening role’, enabling conversations that would not otherwise have occurred, such as on sharing data. 
  • ‘Accelerated the development of new products and services’ by connecting innovators, regulators and customers, especially in the sandbox. 
  • Helped solidify the UK’s position as a leader in legal services technology, with Singapore the ‘only plausible competitor’. 

The report concludes that: ‘It is too early to provide a definitive value for money assessment of the LawtechUK work programme, as many of the medium and longer-term impacts of the programme will take years to materialise. What is clear is that the work of LawtechUK has been influential and has been engaged with deeply and supported by prominent actors in the sector – legal professionals and firms, technology start-ups and regulators – which itself is indicative of the substantial value of the programme.’

(Courtesy: The Law Society Gazette)