25th March 2021

In 2018 the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles asked the Law Commission and Scottish Law Commission to review the law and regulation of automated vehicles (AVs). In this third consultation paper of that review, the focus is on the definition of self-driving; on an authorisation process “pre-deployment” (before vehicle are placed on the market); and on how to assure safety in use, on an ongoing basis. It builds on our two previous consultations to define three “key actors”, with legal responsibility for different aspects of how an AV drives.

These are the key summary points of our response:

  • Approval of any ADS (or any vehicle fitted with an ADS) needs confirmation that all 12 of Thatcham Research’s principles for safe self-driving vehicles are satisfied in full.
  • In particular, determining how long a period is acceptable for a User in Charge (UIC) to respond to a transition request needs to be carefully determined.
  • ADS approval should involve both UNECE and domestic certification and, where the ADS is manufactured separately, the vehicle once fitted with the ADS should be subject to a holistic approval approach.
  • We prefer the idea of one supervisory body that gives ADS/Vehicle approval in the first instance and is then responsible for assuring their safety following deployment.
  • We agree that the User in Charge should not be liable in criminal law for transgressions that occur while the ADS is engaged.
  • The UIC or NUIC operator should be responsible for arranging insurance. The principle established under the AEV Act 2018 that the motor insurer should respond to any third-party claims is important. Injured parties must not be forced to make complex product liability claims against an ADSE.
  • Responsibility for making critical software updates should rest solely with the ADSE.
  • Access to data (subject to GDPR) by insurers and insurance brokers is essential if accidents are to be properly investigated and lessons learned.

Please click here to read our response in full.

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