How Digital Transformation Drives European Integration Conference in London (UK)


The ELI organised a Conference, with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, which took place on 27 February 2018 in London (UK). The event focused on aspects of digitalisation in light of legal developments in the UK and its impact on European integration.

The attendees and speakers were welcomed by Michelle Bramley, the Global Head of Knowledge at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. The introduction was given by the Member of the ELI Executive Committee and former Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, Lord Thomas. He gave an overview of the ELI and emphasised that, regardless of the uncertain relationship between the UK and the EU, people in the UK could still make important contributions through the ELI. He mentioned various ELI Projects such in the areas of criminal law, tax law, family law and criminal law.

Lord Thomas was followed by ELI President Christiane Wendehorst, who expressed her delight about the cooperation between the ELI and Freshfields. She gave a brief outline of the Principles for a Data Economy Project (which the ELI is carrying out with the American Law Institute, ALI) and underlined, that this Project is one of many other ELI Projects in the digital field. She explained how the Project Group started this Project by speaking to the various stakeholders in the field, such as controllers of large amounts of data (eg Silicon Valley), large industries pushing into the data market (eg car industry), small and medium sized enterprises, judges and lawyers and many others. Wendehorst explained how the Project Team discovered that better guidance, clarity and legal certainty is a common desire of almost all stakeholders involved. She continued her presentation by explaining how this initiative started with a Feasibility Study, which resulted in a Draft Framework for Discussion and ultimately became a Project, which has been adopted by the ALI Council and the ELI Council respectively.

The next speaker on the agenda was ELI Vice-President, Sjef van Erp, who focused on Blockchain Technology and Smart Contracts. He discussed the role and impact of the law in light of IT developments. He started with an explanation on blockchain by naming its characteristics such as being decentralised, transparent, a platform for smart contracts and access by (a community of) users. Blockchain technologies have a huge potential to fundamentally change many areas of private law transactions and within a few years, blockchain could be the basis of registration of vast values in real property and currency. Jimmy Vestbirk, founder of Legal Geek, gave a quick overview of the UK and European start-up scenes and the notion of LawTech. He was followed by Tim Sadler of Tessian, David Howorth of Avvoka and David Wildisen of Neota Logic, who continued the Conference by providing their own perspectives and experience in the start-up scene. The co-host of this event, Freshfield Bruckhaus Deringer, were represented by Tom Hingley and Adam Ryan. Adam Ryan explained how Freshfields integrates LawTech solutions in the training of lawyers and in the work of their clients. He went on to explain briefly how quickly technology has advanced within the last few years. Tom Hingley concluded the presentation by explaining how global integration itself is driving transformation.

To watch the video recording of the conference, please click here. You can read the agenda here.


©Dean Stead/Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer