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Courts of the Future Forum to tackle legal implications of disruptive technology

Courts of the Future Forum to tackle legal implications of disruptive technology

September 27, 2017


  • Initiative led by DIFC Courts and Dubai Future Foundation
  • Brings together global technology and legal experts to evaluate implications of emerging technologies and trends

Dubai, United Arab Emirates; 27 September 2017: A new forum of global experts in law, technology, IT and business is being assembled to help lawmakers and legal systems accommodate the accelerating growth of technology.

Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Courts and Dubai Future Foundation are creating the Courts of the Future Forum, which will consider new ways to oversee disruptive technology such as driverless cars, drones, blockchain and cyber security within DIFC’s jurisdiction.

The Forum’s brief will be to design guidelines and prototype a commercial court that can operate anywhere worldwide. The initiative will help create certainty for businesses, investors and entrepreneurs currently unsure of the legal implications of rapid technological change.

Mark Beer, Co-Chief Executive and Registrar General of DIFC Courts, said: “Thinking through the judicial implications of emerging technologies is the Forum’s first priority. The second is to unlock the power of the same innovations to transform the experience of using a court for the end-user, the legal sector and the judiciary itself. This new initiative is about thinking big for big business, thinking smart for small business and thinking ahead for businesses of the future.”

Under consideration will be issues such as ownership and use of data; liability for cybersecurity incidents and data breaches; licensing standards for technology like autonomous cars, drones, 3D printing and blockchain; insurance claims relating to active technology industries; the liability of intermediaries, including online platforms; and micro-payments and micro-disputes.

His Excellency Abdulla bin Touq, Acting CEO of the Dubai Future Foundation, said: “Dubai is becoming a global test bed for emerging technologies. It is essential that we also begin to test the regulatory frameworks and protections that will help these technologies, and the companies developing them, succeed.”

The Forum’s work will focus on three key areas. First, creating legal clarity to ensure that valuable and innovative intellectual property created by entrepreneurs and investors is protected.

Second, it will coordinate international efforts to ensure that courts and lawmakers understand likely future developments in technological innovation and online consumer behaviour.

Lastly, the Forum will investigate the development of smart dispute resolution services. For example, e-commerce is an industry where resolving legal disputes entirely online is considered appropriate and may be preferred by consumers and businesses.

Representatives for the inaugural forum include His Excellency Abdullah bin Touq, Acting CEO, Dubai Future Foundation; Arthur Artinian, Partner, K&L Gates; Robert Avis, Barrister, XXIV Old Buildings, UK; Mark Beer, Co-Chief Executive and Registrar General of DIFC Courts; Simon Bradford, Public Sector Director, Microsoft Public Sector, Middle East & Africa; Gillian Hadfield, Richard L. and Antoinette Kirtland professor of law and professor of economics at the University of Southern California (USC); Margaret Hagan, Director of the Legal Design Lab, Stanford Law School & Lecturer at the Stanford Institute of Design; Tom Hudson, Managing Director, Kestrel Global; Peter Knight, Partner, Bird & Bird, UK; Tom Montagu-Smith, QC, XXIV Old Buildings, UK; Anders Nilsson, Managing Partner, Bird & Bird, UAE; Dr. Noah Raford, Chief Operating Officer & Futurist-in-Chief, Dubai Future Foundation; and Phil Reynolds, Board Member and General Counsel, Pyypl Group FZ-LLC.

DIFC Courts have pioneered new thinking by taking a digital approach to resolving legal disputes. Its smart Small Claims Tribunal has already set a pattern for digital courts, enabling parties to attend a virtual court from anywhere in the world.

Recently DIFC Courts also collaborated with Microsoft to accelerate the digital transformation of commercial courts systems, focusing on enhanced connectivity and virtual solutions in registrations, filings, case managements and trials.

The inaugural forum will take place on November 12, 2017, with the key item on the agenda a debate on the “Rules of the Future.” Following the conclusion of the event, a working document will be created to begin the process of shaping the future direction of commercial courts.

For more information about the Forum’s members and upcoming activities, please visit


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