An app to help small businesses identify legal problems and an artificial intelligence program designed to spot disputes before they emerge are among the innovations to be tested in the pilot of the new Lawtech Sandbox, the organisation behind the government-funded scheme announced today. 

The Lawtech Sandbox provides a safe environment in which digital innovations can be tested, especially for their regulatory implications. The project’s leader Jenifer Swallow, LawtechUK director at IT industry body Tech Nation, said the sandbox will help tackle three main shared barriers to lawtech innovators: 'Access to data, cross-sector regulator engagement, and timely input from decision-makers.'

The scheme is funded under the LawtechUK initiative announced last May and being run in collaboration with 11 regulators, including the Solicitors Regulation Authority and Bar Standards Board. The five ventures taking part in piloting the system, chosen from 65 applicants, are: 

  • Amplifi, developer of a system employing artificial intelligence techniques to analyse and present risks arising from legal documents. Participation in the sandbox will help answer legal, regulatory and ethical questions and give access to datasets of complex customer-facing legal documents, the company said. 
  • Clause aims to create an open-source library of machine-readable legal documents and file transformation technologies that can act as a foundation for future development.  
  • ClauseMatch says it will transform regulation into 'digital, machine-readable form with an easy-to-use, AI-powered smart document collaboration platform', making it easier for businesses to automate compliance and to keep up with regulations.
  • The Deep Tech Dispute Resolution Lab, based at Reading University, is developing a dispute and risk avoidance tool which scans communications such as email messages to detect early signs of emerging legal disputes for flagging up to managers. Its machine-learning system is being trained on datasets such as the half million corporate emails which came into the public domain following the Enron scandal, as well as live data made available through agreements with two major businesses. 
  • Legal Utopia aims to make common legal documents understandable to small and medium sized businesses via an 'intelligent legal diagnostic process'. It said participation in the sandbox will help it get expert advice and data.