International law firm Bird & Bird has partnered with LexisNexis, a leading global provider of information and analytics as well as ARPAS, the UK Drone Association, to create what is believed to be the first published template Drone Services Agreement, written specifically to mitigate the legal challenges faced by the drone industry in England and Wales.
The drone industry is enormous with Business Insider predicting that the drone services market will to grow from $4.4 billion in 2018 to $63.6 billion by 2025. With 5,620 licensed operators, the sector has rapidly moved from a hobby to a professional service. It now supports industries such as law enforcement, land management, facilities operation and TV. As the use of drone technology in the commercial sector becomes more feasible and popular, it is also becoming increasingly regulated. Yet, until now, there has been no single source of guidance on the laws relating to drone use. Critically, there were no templates or precedents specifically written for this growing industry. Often, drone operators use repurposed general commercial contracts that do not address the specific risks in the use of drones.
Graham Brown, CEO of ARPAS commented “As the UK Drone Association, it has concerned us that our members were insufficiently protected by their contracts. Drones are seeing increased commercial use across the UK, and the operators will need specific guidance from their legal teams.”
Identifying this problem, LexisNexis sought to ensure that the Drone sub-topic of the online practical guidance solution, LexisPSL, included comprehensive industry-tested precedents and guidance. Bird & Bird supported LexisNexis in the research and creation of this guidance. Together, the team produced a Drone Services Agreement, with accompanying drafting notes, addressing the specific legal challenges faced by the drone industry in England and Wales.
Alison Rees-Blanchard, Lawyer at LexisNexis said: “We ensure that all the precedents on LexisPSL are tried, tested and immediately fit for purpose. Our hope is that this work will help shape the drone legal industry. By creating robust, tailored materials that are specifically for this industry, we are ensuring that the providers of drone services can build a credible and dependable reputation.”
Simon Phippard, Of Counsel at Bird & Bird said: “We aim to ensure that the precedent is easy to implement with detailed drafting notes for lawyers. It helps ensure that the balance of responsibilities and liabilities between the customer and the drone operator is fair and can be adapted to cover sophisticated as well as more straightforward relationships."
The Drone Services Agreement is available to LexisPSL customers on the TMT module (subscription required).
The Bird & Bird team included Of Counsel Simon Phippard and Partner Lucy England. Bird & Bird has also worked with LexisPSL to produce supporting practice notes, news analysis and webinar content about drones law, all of which is also available in the TMT module.