Pre-predictions: An Apology, an Invitation and a Prediction

November 18, 2014

I am again looking to post something on the SCL web site which reflects the predictions of leading experts in IT law and legal IT – this time for 2015. Each year the predictions feature as the most read item on the site. But this year my preparations have hit a snag. My carefully treasured list of invitees –the result of years of careful husbandry – appears to have disappeared in a puff of blue smoke. Back-up? Almost certainly backed up somewhere but where?

The net result is that you may be thirsting to offer predictions but not have received the usual invitation because, by the time I had got part way through my address book looking for suitable contributors, I had lost the will to live. If you are an ‘Andrew’ you probably did get an invitation; if you are a ‘William’ you probably didn’t. Indeed, thast address book needs a sort and it got a bit haphazard by the time I got to ‘B’.

So I take this opportunity to apologise to those who did not get the invitation (even those who have not responded in four years or more (once on that list, you tended to stay on). But I do {i}really{/i} want to hear from you with your thoughts.

As my standard invite points out, with a general election on the horizon and a new set of EU Commissioners now in place, there is plenty of room for exciting predictions. The pace of technological change shows no sign of slacking either so there is plenty of potential for new problems meeting old law – and new law emerging from cases too. Add to that the feeling that the practice of law is at a cross-roads (one road leading to expanded use of technology, and the other being a cul-de-sac), with the value of lawyers being questioned too, and we have a time ripe for predictions.

I would be delighted if you looked a little beyond the obvious IT issues and considered the issues that might arise from other forms of technological advance too. Life sciences, healthcare and robotics spring to mind but the interface between IT and other innovative technology is becoming increasingly complex. I suspect that wider issues, such as the human rights debate, might be worth a line or two too.

I am looking for at least 50 words per person, but if you want to provide more that’s fine – 150 seems to be the going rate; as in previous years, some predictions might well make a short independent article.
Contributions (sent to me at will be displayed on the SCL Web site with full attribution, including contact details and description (which you may provide but please don’t make them too long). There will again be a series of Predictions blog postings. I expect these to begin around the end of the month. I hope to publish selections in the Dec/Jan issue of the magazine from those replying by 5 December.

Feel free to encourage your colleagues and clients to contribute. I would especially value contributions from outside our normal circles – most obviously but not exclusively from technologists and e-commerce entrepreneurs who say something that IT lawyers would find useful.

One of the challenges set in my standard invitation is to predict the date on which the EU General Data Protection Regulation will be finalised – and, so as to avoid arguments, let’s pretend that ‘finalised’ means published in the OJ. I am a little bored with ‘let’s wait and see’ and people who encourage the wider business community to lose sleep over it but don’t feel brave enough to say when it is likely to happen. I was going to offer a cash prize for the nearest guess/informed estimate but apparently asking you all to send me a fiver in a brown envelope to create a pool of cash to be distributed to the winner is discouraged. (Pus there was the outrageous suggestion that I might abuse the SCL web console so as to alter my own prediction.) You will have to settle for the kudos alone.

I will start the ball rolling on that EU GDPR prediction. Taking the new Commissioners commitment to sort this out in six months and doubling it to allow for a dose of reality, I am going for 18 January 2016. If you cannot be bothered with a full set of predictions, you might like to add your prediction as a comment to this post or even tweet @computersandlaw with your predicted date in the format @computersandlaw EU GDPR prediction [date].