17 June 2021LawtechUK

Legal Schema Structured Data for Digital Contracts

Universal structured data format for the creation and interactivity of digital documents, developed as part of the Lawtech Sandbox


Share the project:

LAWTECH Resources Page Assets WEBSITEBLOCK 1

Launch of the Legal Schema for digital documents

Our goal in establishing the Lawtech Sandbox was to bring transformative lawtech to market faster, by helping the pioneers reinventing the service of law.

As part of the Lawtech Sandbox Pilot, one of our pioneers, Peter Hunn, set out to demonstrate the practical application of digital document technologies and to enable their adoption, so that legal documents can be produced in structured formats that mean their contents can be easily used for reporting, analysis, automated processing, lifecycle management and more.

This is far from the reality today, where legal documents are typically written only in natural language text and stored as such or as photographic images (PDF etc.), without any supporting code that acts as a map or instructions enabling a computer to read it.

This analogue way of producing and administering legal documentation is limited and inefficient and will be widely restructured and digitised in the coming years, enabling the public and private sectors to realise a wide range of benefits spanning productivity, accuracy, transparency and risk management, at home and across borders.

With support from LawtechUK’s network, Peter Hunn’s project in the Pilot was to accelerate this movement by producing a universal structured data format for the creation and interactivity of digital contracts - called the Legal Schema.

The Legal Schema complements the UK Jurisdiction Taskforce’s Legal Statement on cryptoassets and smart contracts, the Law Commission’s ongoing review of the law on smart contracts, the UKJT’s recently published Digital Dispute Resolution Rules, and the UK Government’s National Data Strategy.

Accompanying the launch of the Legal Schema open source materials is a whitepaper, prepared in collaboration with industry experts, detailing the context and sample use cases for the Legal Schema, and offering insight into how it can be deployed for the benefit of business and the economy.

Peter Hunn comments: “Accelerating the adoption and use of smart contracts and cryptoassets is critical to the global competitiveness of the UK as a jurisdiction. The work of the UK Jurisdiction Taskforce and the current Law Commission projects are a testament to this. It became apparent through our work in the Sandbox that, in order to do so, there is a simple, universal, means to add structured data into contractual documents to transform them into digital agreements. The Legal Schema project is the first step in this direction as outlined in the whitepaper released today. Owing to the success of the project in the Sandbox, the next steps will be developed in conjunction with LawtechUK and cross-sector collaborators. We welcome the involvement of interested stakeholders.

Sarah Green, Law Commissioner, comments: “The digitisation of both documentation and assets is inevitable and critical in maintaining a jurisdictional regime that is internationally competitive and fit for today’s commercial purposes. The work of the Law Commission and the UKJT is concerned with the legal response to these emerging technologies, and this groundbreaking Legal Schema initiative sets an excellent example for technological development in the field.

This is a strong start for an ambitious project that can help restructure how we approach legal documents and how we think about data and the entire contracting methodology that underpins how we do business.

The way forward is through practical use cases that bring near term benefits to real people and through collaborative working across disciplines, sectors and experiences.

We look forward to contributing to the utility and uptake of digital documents and to future phases of work on the Legal Schema, with the UKJT and many across the sector and beyond.

If you are interested in working together as we continue to explore adoption and use of digital documents, we would welcome hearing from you. You can get in touch here.

Thank you for signing up for LawtechUK news and updates

You will now be notified of all our latest updates.

Thank you for contacting LawtechUK

We will get back to you as soon as we can.

Thank you for your interest in the Open Legal Data project.

The LawtechUK team will be in touch with you shortly.

Thank you for signing up for LawtechUK news and updates

You will now be notified of all our latest updates.