ELI Conference on Digitalisation in Hull, UK


The European Law Institute organised a Conference on Digitalisation in Hull, United Kingdom, on 30-31 March 2017. The theme and title of the Conference was ‘Emerging Legal Issues in an Increasingly Digital Society’.

The Conference was held at ‘The Lawns Centre’, where more than 60 participants came together in order to exchange and discuss recent trends such as smart contracts and block-chain technology, the use of personal data as ‘payment’, 3D printing, liability issues, and online access to justice.  

The Conference was opened with welcome addresses by ELI President, Diana Wallis, and Gonzalo Villalta Puig, Head of the School of Law and Politics at the University of Hull. Both were delighted to welcome the ELI to Hull and the UK. Villalta Puig said that he was honoured that the Conference had come to Hull, as the study of European Law and International Law are very much at the core of the identity of the law school. Wallis, Senior Fellow of the University’s School of Law and Politics, expressed that it was a great pleasure to invite the ELI to the UK and emphasised ‘that even after Brexit we are still a European legal community’.  

Lord John Thomas, Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, gave a keynote speech on the challenges and opportunities presented by the online delivery of justice. He described the continuing work on the online courts and ways in which the online procedure can deliver better and more expedient results.  

The first day of the ELI Conference on Digitalisation focussed on ‘e-CODEX and Access to Justice’ and the ‘The Digital Environment and Liability Issues’. For this session, Peggy Struck, Head of Operations and Growth with Crowdjustice, elaborated on how crowdfunding can be used to bring forward more cases of public interest, with low economic value. Lee Odiom, University of Hull, provided insights from the tech-community and described ways in which 3D-printing can have practical applications that raise various questions of liability and morality.  

Day 2 of the ELI Conference was dedicated to ‘Building a Data Economy’ and to ‘Smart Contracts and Block-Chain Technology’. The Head of DG Justice and Consumers of the European Commission, Dirk Staudenmayer, thanked Diana Wallis and the ELI for hosting the Conference and the active part the ELI has played in the ongoing dialogue between institutions and stakeholders and developments in private law. He described the focus of the EU Commission in the field and the main emphasis of the Communication that the Commission recently released. Wojciech Wiewiórowski, Assistant European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), explained the ways in which the European Data Protection Supervisor anticipates that the data economy will have an impact on data protection. He described how data protection and a vibrant data economy can co-exist.  

ELI President Wallis concluded the two-day Conference and expressed her fascination with the presentations and stated that the future of private law was already here and it was up to the legal community to make sure it served consumers and the community well.   

Further details about the Conference will be provided in the upcoming Newsletter.