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Alexis Chun: All CLAW is LegalTech, but not all LegalTech is CLAW (Part 3 of 3)

Reading time: 4 minutes

Written by Alexis N. Chun

In the first part of this 3-part series, we spoke about the status quo in law and how we at Legalese and the Computational Law Centre (CCLAW) at Singapore Management University are working together to make Computational Law a reality. Last week, we painted you a picture of what a computational law driven future might look like, and assured you that the approach of building a DSL is a rather well-honed tradition one in software that has transformed professional domains like accounting, architecture, and digital photography. This article is the final part of a 3-part series.

Alexis Chun: What a computational law future might look like (Part 2 of 3)

Reading time: 5 minutes

Written by Alexis N. Chun

Last week we spoke about the status quo in law and how we at Legalese and the Computational Law Centre (CCLAW) at Singapore Management University are working together to make Computational Law a reality. This is part 2 of this 3-part series. 

If you recall, we discussed the (natural) language problem of law and how perhaps a domain-specific language (DSL) for law might be the foundational technological innovation to fix it. Because a DSL gives “Law” (which term we use to collectively refer to statutes, regulations, contracts, guidelines, business process logic, rules, quasi-legal documentation, you name it) a common denominator, the disparate bits can now “talk” to each other. This is what makes “Law” computable and computational. And in our vision, this foundational technology gets us from pseudocode to real code. That’s what we suspect a contract wants to be when it grows up:  a program. And the marvellous thing about programs is that Law can graduate from simply expressing syntax (i.e. words on a page, legalistic expressions) that are essentially pseudocode to semantics (i.e. what does it mean in an objective or clearly defined fashion), to pragmatics (i.e. what does it mean for me). Semantics and pragmatics are the traditional demesnes of lawyers; these are things you’d pay and ask for a lawyer’s advice on. But lawyers’ service of semantics and pragmatics may be too much like a priesthood (and too expensive) for most end users: go forth with this blessed document, but don’t break your back carving out the laundry list of assumptions, professional indemnities, and deciphering what exactly it means for you. Take faith. This just might not cut it anymore for the increasingly tech-savvy and knowledge-driven common man on the Clapham omnibus who reviews and background checks everything including their drivers, romantic dates, and restaurants.    

Alexis Chun: From LegalTech to Computational Law (Part 1 of 3)

Reading time: 5 minutes

Written by Alexis N. Chun

In 2011, Marc Andreessen said “software is eating the world”. And with that in mind, a computer scientist and a lawyer decided to do just that. Legalese.com was born, and 5 years later, Singapore Management University’s Centre for Computational Law.   

The Status Quo

Commas alone have cost one million (Canadian) dollars, millions in taxpayers’ dollars, and even gotten someone out of a parking ticket. Richard Susskind OBE has written about The End of Lawyers and the law firm’s business model has been described as “risking obsolescence”, “rigged to fail”, and trapped “in a death spiral”. The Atlantic said the legal profession was “the only job with an industry devoted to helping people quit”. That’s all rather grim, but probably not news. You get it, the status quo sucks

Cryptocurrency: Liability and Regulatory Issues

Reading time: 15 minutes

Written by Tan Yan Ru | Edited by Josh Lee Kok Thong

We’re all law and tech scholars now, says every law and tech sceptic. That is only half-right. Law and technology is about law, but it is also about technology. This is not obvious in many so-called law and technology pieces which tend to focus exclusively on the law. No doubt this draws on what Judge Easterbrook famously said about three decades ago, to paraphrase: “lawyers will never fully understand tech so we might as well not try”.

In open defiance of this narrative, LawTech.Asia is proud to announce a collaboration with the Singapore Management University Yong Pung How School of Law’s LAW4032 Law and Technology class. This collaborative special series is a collection featuring selected essays from students of the class. Ranging across a broad range of technology law and policy topics, the collaboration is aimed at encouraging law students to think about where the law is and what it should be vis-a-vis technology.

This piece, written by Tan Yan Ru, seeks to explore liability and regulatory issues around cryptocurrency. It begins by exploring how the two central characteristics of blockchain – decentralisation and pseudonymity raise liability and regulatory issues. It then examines existing measures taken by regulators and policymakers to address liability issues, while acknowledging increasing sophistication on the part of those seeking to evade these measures. Other measures, such as raising cryptocurrency literacy and setting up a cryptocurrency task force are examined. Moving on, it examines the existing regulatory conundrum arising from the use of cryptocurrencies. It is observed that current regulatory regimes appear to reflect an escalating legal arms race to be the first in coming up with a solution. Finally, the paper submits that regulatory issues may be resolved by the harmonisation of the various regulations with international institutions working together.

Digging digital dirt: Rethinking the evidentiary landscape in the age of social media

Reading time: 13 minutes

Written by Sim Qian Hui | Edited by Josh Lee Kok Thong

We’re all law and tech scholars now, says every law and tech sceptic. That is only half-right. Law and technology is about law, but it is also about technology. This is not obvious in many so-called law and technology pieces which tend to focus exclusively on the law. No doubt this draws on what Judge Easterbrook famously said about three decades ago, to paraphrase: “lawyers will never fully understand tech so we might as well not try”.

In open defiance of this narrative, LawTech.Asia is proud to announce a collaboration with the Singapore Management University Yong Pung How School of Law’s LAW4032 Law and Technology class. This collaborative special series is a collection featuring selected essays from students of the class. Ranging across a broad range of technology law and policy topics, the collaboration is aimed at encouraging law students to think about where the law is and what it should be vis-a-vis technology.

This piece, written by Sim Qian Hui, seeks to demonstrates the need to rethink the evidentiary landscape in the age of social media. The use of social media evidence in court proceedings is plagued with uncertainty. By assuming that people present themselves in the same way online and offline, the courts misinterpret the relevance of certain types of social media posts.  The courts lack understanding on social media culture and draw mistaken inferences from common types of social media conduct. Further, the overly broad discovery of social media content violates an individual’s right to privacy. Accordingly, courts must consider the unique properties and social norms surrounding social media when utilising social media evidence. Given that social media has become part of today’s society, courts ought to ensure the continued relevance of the evidentiary regime. 

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