Law commission

Law Commission recommends Automated Vehicles Act with new re

Following three rounds of consultation, the Commission has recommended that human drivers should not be legally responsible for road safety, with responsibility instead resting with the company providing the audiovisual systems, such as the car manufacturer or publishers of software.



January 27, 2022

The Law Commission has published a joint report with the Scottish Law Commission containing recommendations for legal reform relating to the use of autonomous vehicles. The 292-page report is based on input from hundreds of stakeholders, and the consultations received a total of 404 written responses.

The Commission recommends a new law on automated vehicles, defining new regulatory regimes and new legal actors.

Following three rounds of consultation, the Commission has recommended that human drivers should not be legally responsible for road safety, with responsibility instead resting with the company providing the audiovisual systems, such as the car manufacturer or publishers of software.

These provisions only apply to vehicles defined as fully “self-driving” and the Law Commission says automakers should be extremely clear about the difference between self-driving and “driver-assisted” features.

“By automated vehicles,” he says, “we mean vehicles capable of driving themselves without being controlled or monitored by an individual for at least part of a journey.”

According to Tech UK: “Establishing a clear legal framework is seen as one of the biggest obstacles to wide adoption and, if the recommendations are accepted by the government, this report could be a major step towards the placement of audio visual vehicles on UK roads.”

Those consulted asked:

  • A clear distinction between driver assistance and autonomous driving

  • To clarify “deceptive marketing” that confuses “people into thinking they don’t need to pay attention to the road when in fact they do”

  • Clear security standards to be defined

  • A modified system of legal responsibility

  • New regulatory regimes

  • New legal actors to be defined, such as a “responsible user”, who cannot be prosecuted for offenses related to driving a vehicle, unless he has taken measures to override the system

  • An Authorized Autonomous Driving Entity (ASDE) – the vehicle manufacturer or software developer submitting an AV for authorization

  • No “responsible user” (NUIC) functionalities, in which the occupants of the vehicle will simply be passengers. Instead, travel supervision responsibilities will be carried out by an organization, an approved NUIC operator

The Law Commission is an independent statutory body whose objective is to ensure that the law is as fair, modern, simple and cost-effective as possible, and which conducts research and consultations in order to make systematic recommendations to the scrutiny by Parliament.

Its work on autonomous vehicles began in 2018 when the Center for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) asked the Law Commission of England and Wales and the Scottish Law Commission to undertake a comprehensive review to enable the safe and responsible introduction of automated vehicles onto GB roads and public places.

In November 2021, techUK published a position paper on the opportunities for the UK to design broadcasting regulation in a way that delivers societal and economic benefits, available for download from its website.