The twists and turns of liability
Limits of liability is the top negotiated term year after year in IACCM’s annual survey. But will the environment in which these terms are negotiated be steadily upended by technology?
In a thought-provoking blog, Michael Lewin (a firm of solicitors in the UK) asks leading questions about driverless cars. They point out that the use of such vehicles will require major changes to road traffic laws, which all assume a human operator at the controls. But beyond this, where would liability actually reside in the event of an accident? I presume that anyone buying such a car will expect to be indemnified by the manufacturer. After all, if the manufacturer is not confident about the reliability of the vehicle, I am not going to be very interested in sitting inside it. However, you can be sure the manufacturer will in turn be looking for protection by its major suppliers – the producers of the software and computing equipment on which safety relies. Given the places my GPS tries to take me, there are certainly a few improvements to be made there!
And as if this is not enough of a new battleground, what about the transformation created by 3D printing? The future is likely to include giant factories of 3D printers to which clients can download their designs for production. So no longer will we have those battles between customer and supplier over the quality of goods or their fitness for purpose, because control over specification lies entirely with the customer. The machine will simply produce what they transmit … or will it?
Maybe the negotiation of liability clauses will actually become fun … at least for a while.