Welcome to the the TGC Automated and Electric Vehicle Law blog!

We (Alex Glassbrook and Emma Northey) are delighted to be editing the TGC AEV Law blog, and to have the opportunity to introduce you to some of the AEV Law team at Temple Garden Chambers (Paul Erdunast, Anthony Johnson and Scarlett Milligan) and to our first guest writer, Iwan Parry of TRL.

Temple Garden Chambers is the foremost set of barristers’ chambers specialising in the laws of automated and electric vehicles in England and Wales.  Alex wrote the first British book on the topic, The Law of Driverless Cars: an Introduction, in 2017, and Alex, Emma and Scarlett wrote its second edition, A Practical Guide to the Law of Driverless Cars, in 2019.  Alex is currently writing the first major textbook on Advanced, Automated and Electric Vehicle Law (including the laws of advanced driver assistance systems and of micromobility vehicles, among other areas).

Our barristers participated in all three stages of the Law Commission’s consultation on automated vehicle law (2018 to 2021) and Alex led the team which wrote the Bar Council’s response to the Law Commission’s final consultation on AV law.  We have lectured on AEV Law at the invitation of numerous organisations in the legal, insurance, commercial, public and academic sectors, both in the UK and overseas.  We play a continuing, leading role in law reform and teaching in the field.

The technology has now arrived, and the first British statute – the Automated and Electric Vehicles Act 2018, enacted in July 2018 – has been brought into force, on 21 April 2021 (by the Automated and Electric Vehicles Act 2018 (Commencement No. 1) Regulations, SI 2021/396).

A further step remains, before the Act can come practically into effect: publication of the Secretary of State for Transport’s list of automated vehicles pursuant to section 1 of the Act.  The government has announced (at pages 41 and 43 of the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) document ‘Safe Use of Automated Lane Keeping System (ALKS): Summary of Responses and Next Steps. Moving Britain Ahead’ published on 28 April 2021) that the Secretary of State expects to list vehicles equipped with the Automated Lane Keeping System (ALKS) as “automated vehicles” under section 1, if and when those vehicles are given whole vehicle type approval by the Vehicle Certification Agency.

When that might happen is difficult to predict, but the bringing into force of the Act, and the Law Commission’s commitment to provide final recommendations on AV law reforms by the end of 2021 are among the signs that it could happen soon.    While the 2018 Act is at heart an insurance measure, our system of liability for road traffic incidents is historically rooted in insurance.  So the 2018 Act, with its provision for direct liability on the part of an insurer of an automated vehicle, alters the whole body of civil road transport law.  We can now speak of automated vehicle claims as a distinct category of cases.  British AEV Law has been born.

We are delighted to mark the occasion with the publication of the TGC AEV Law blog.  Insurance law has altered visibly with the 2018 Act, but many other parts of the regulatory picture are yet to be drawn.  How will courts apply the 2018 Act?  What new expert evidence will judges need in AEV Act 2018 cases?  What of corporate liabilities?  In the wake of algorithmic scandals (in A-level exam results and the overturned convictions of post office employees), how might the unintended biases of a computer programme affect road transport, and how might regulation prevent such biases arising?

That is the plentiful list of questions for our first 6 posts on the TGC AEV Law blog.  There are many more questions, and they will multiply.  There will be plenty of material for future posts.

AEV Law requires a multidisciplinary approach, in which TGC has played an active part.  So we intend to include regular articles by guest experts.  We are delighted to start that tradition by welcoming Iwan Parry.  Iwan is a principal consultant at  TRL (formerly the UK government’s Road Research Laboratory) and is a highly experienced expert both in road traffic incident investigation and in transport innovation.  Among the many aspects of his expertise in emerging technology are the testing of collision detection by telematics devices, the development of connected and automated mobility (CAM) research programmes and creating the technical vision for TRL’s CAM test-bed, the Smart Mobility Living Lab: London.  Iwan’s article Expert Investigation of Automated Vehicle Collisions and AEV Act 2018 Claims is essential reading.

We hope that you find our blog useful and engaging.  This is a time of significant technological and legal change – perhaps even the ‘transport revolution’ which many have described.  We look forward to guiding you through the new landscape.

Alex Glassbrook and Emma Northey

Photo by Paul Rysz on Unsplash

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