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iLaw and its services to the drone sector

May 17, 2021
Insight

The iLaw approach is to cut through legal bureaucracy and get to the heart of any matter.

Our experts have been recognised in the UK’s leading legal directories for many years.

We form deep partnerships with businesses and do not merely provide legal advice. We support our clients’ growth by:

  • facilitating introductions through our networks, both in the UK and overseas
  • sharing our analysis of the current and prospective issues and trends via YouTube, webinars, bulletins and other channels
  • contributing to the legal and business debate through industry conferences, round-table forums and workshops
  • providing tailored training courses to meet the specific challenges being faced by individual clients

iLaw pricing promise

iLaw is regularly sitting across the table from some of the world’s largest law firms. We match the quality of service delivered by the legal giants but with a significantly more competitive pricing structure, reflecting the streamlined and specialist nature of our firm.  

We provide full details of our fees from the outset and give regular updates during the lifespan of a project.

We are also happy to make the iLaw pricing promise to new clients: we will reduce our fees by 20% if requested by any client which is dissatisfied with our service for any reason.  This is at the complete discretion of the client, and we will not quibble. All we ask is that clients act in good faith.    

Expansion of drones: a success story for UK plc

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way the world works at lightning speed. The situation has provided an unprecedented impetus to the development and roll out of solutions and the technology sector has risen to the challenge.

The commercial applications of land, sea and air drone technology are inevitably going to increase in sophistication, moving from deliveries and transport to wider roles in sectors such as manufacturing, medical, search and rescue, police, military, logistics and many others.  

Drones are a clean technology and as the world steps up its efforts to combat climate change, governments are progressively tightening the obligations on companies to reduce their carbon footprint. Consumers, especially the young, are increasingly demanding stricter environmental standards from commerce and industry.  

As the significance of drones to commercial life increases, so does the complexity of the contractual arrangements around the development and ownership of the technology.

If a party is dependent on drones for the performance of a contract, it will need to cater for the allocation of risk and liability in the case of any problems.

The scale of the innovation and commercialisation challenges are such that companies will need to pool resources and collaborate with other enterprises. They may also need to work with others, including central and local government, other public sector bodies and agencies, third sector institutions such as universities, and external funders.

These arrangements will need to be governed by a suitable framework to delineate the rights and duties of the parties and to lay the footings to give the project the best chance of success.        

Legal support for drone businesses

We can assist drone businesses with their legal needs, from the formation of a business through to the commercial exploitation of any process or development, and culminating in an ultimate exit by way of sale or flotation.

Companies will need to ensure that they own and protect the rights to the technology, through registering applicable intellectual property rights in the UK and relevant overseas markets and taking enforcement against to prevent infringement by third parties.  

Our legal services to drone businesses include:

  • Setting up
  • Advice on the legal liabilities of companies, directors and shareholders and how to mitigate them
  • Financing of R&D or other costs, whether via external lenders, shareholders, directors or otherwise
  • Employment contracts to ensure that the IP rights vest in the company and not the individual employee and including anti-poaching protections
  • Protection of IP rights through registration
  • Commercial contracts for the manufacture of drones or components by third parties or subcontractors
  • Terms and conditions for the sale of drones
  • Agency, franchise or distribution agreements to market drones in new markets  
  • Business continuity arrangements, including disaster recovery plans and insurance policies
  • Taking or defending legal action concerning the use of, or the technology used in, drones  

Legal support when buying or selling a drone business

Our M&A experts assist with all aspects of the sale or purchase of a drone business, ensuring that targeted due diligence is performed and catering for the key commercial issues in the transaction documentation.

We play a constructive, hands-on role in the process and find creative legal solutions to bridge differences between the parties.

We are happy to tie our fees to the outcome of the process, aligning our interests with yours and ensuring that the focus is on getting the deal done.          

Legal support for joint ventures in the drone sector

The pace and scale of the development of drone technology is such that most organisations in the sector will frequently need to partner with others to undertake projects and exploit the results to best effect.    

The partners may be needed for the provision of expertise or capacity in a relevant area, to inject finance or to help with the oversight and roll out of a project.

Many projects need to be set up as joint venture to harness the expertise and finance being contributed by the partners, and it is crucial to structure the project in the optimal way, taking account of tax and other factors.  

If a new company is to be established to serve as the joint venture vehicle, it will be crucial to agree the basis upon which the company will be own, run and financed.  Usually a business plan would outline the milestones and timetable to which the company is to work, serving as a roadmap for the business.  

The transaction documents will also need to deal with commercial points such as whether there is to be any agreed dividend policy, and how individual shareholders may transfer their interests to other shareholders or to third parties.    

There is no one-size-fits-all model and it is crucial that each transaction must be built upon a robust contractual bedrock.  Each party will have its own corner to fight, but ultimately all concerned share the common goal of reaching a productive agreement and it is in that spirit that we approach the negotiations.    

Legal support for funders in the drone sector

We advise investors, whether they are contributing funding by way of debt or equity, on the financing and any associated security documentation.

Key considerations will be the uses to which the funding will be put; whether the funding is a one-off amount or whether there may be subsequent instalments; and protections against any default in repayment.

Gauging the likely costs of any project at the outset can be difficult because R&D and other costs may turn out be higher than envisaged or unexpected issues may emerge. Properly drawn contracts can allow the borrower sufficient flexibility whilst also avoiding the lender being excessively exposed.

Legal support to resolve disputes in the drone sector

The contracts underpinning any commercial relationship should provide a framework and not a straitjacket, even more so in the case of drones and other developing technologies.

It is important to include change management protocols to allow for the evolution of a project as circumstances develop and to ensure that the parties have the ability to adapt to any challenges by which they may be confronted.

There should be escalation procedures to resolve disputes before the parties become entrenched in their positions.  A one-off problem should not be allowed to sour the entire relationship.

Litigating in court should usually be a last resort. Expert determination, mediation and arbitration are all being avenues which can result in amicable solutions, as well as being far speedier and more cost-effective in most cases.    

iLaw can assist parties with structuring their contractual arrangements so as to minimise the risk that a dispute becomes bitter.

Our experts are also on hand to help sort out any difference of opinion that might arise between the parties. With our positive and constructive approach and wide knowledge of the sector, we are used to securing quick and effective outcomes.

We are also experienced in launching and fighting legal action if that should be the best approach in a particular scenario, as well as securing the enforcement of judgments in the UK or overseas.

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