The IE Law School Jean Monnet Module on “Legal Liability of Robots: A European vision for a new Legal Regime” (LEGROB). Training the students to think in a future regulation.
14 May 2019

The LEGROB Jean Monnet Module funded by the European Commission within the frame of the Erasmus+ Program/Jean Monnet Actions, celebrated on February 2019, the first of the seminars, workshops and conferences that are foreseen for the next two years, for debating on how Artificial Intelligence and the liability of smart robots should be regulated by the European Union Law.


The European Parliament and the Commission have both expressed the importance that Europe starts to discuss, approve and implement the regulation of liability issues derived from Artificial Intelligence[1]. The IE Law School Jean Monnet Module, LEGROB is an initiative inspired by these calls.



The Seminar celebrated in February focused on discussions, from the perspective of Contract Law, Contractual liability and Extra contractual liability, about the issue of  the configuration of contracts formalized using blockchain technology (“smart contracts”), with the participation as main speakers of Professors Mateja Durovic, Lecturer at King's College London,  Professor Andre Janssen, Chair Professor at Radboud University Nijmegen, and Professor, Francisco de Elizalde, Professor of Civil Law and Head of the LEGROB Jean Monnet Module at IE Law School.


One of the main issues raised by the experts was that the traditional legal concept of contractual configuration is seriously challenged by the rise of “smart contracts”. It was  also remarked that even the term "smart contracts", has to be analyzed since for many, they are neither contracts in the traditional sense, nor are they intelligent, so the term would be, accordingly, an inappropriate denomination. Against this backdrop, the discussants explored how artificial intelligence could interact with smart contracts to take them to a further level, beyond automatic self-execution. This level of “conceptual uncertainty” revealed in the very first debate, confirms the relevance of the topic in which the LEGROB Jean Monnet Module is focusing.


It includes debates, research and teaching, with the innovative project-based approach methodology to analyse Law and Artificial Intelligence from different legal perspectives and embedded in the traditional discourse of each one of them, all of which are aimed at providing important insights for future regulation. But most importantly, they are aimed at training students to think in a future regulation – unlike customary teaching that starts from existing hard law-, and to  provide them with the European vision that they will need,  as future lawyers and policy makers, to deal with the regulation of a topic that will be of prime relevance during their professional lives.


In addition to those related to Contract Law issues discussed in the debates of February, the Module proposes research and debates on other key questions and reflections such as:


-Which is the appropriate legal basis for the European harmonization of rules concerning (civil) liability of Artificial Intelligence? What are the advantages and drawbacks of using different legal instruments to regulate it? (resolution by the European Parliament, the Green and White Papers etc.)


-In terms of insurance issues, does the current EU product liability legal framework meet the needs of the up and coming Artificial Industry? and, more importantly, What kind, if any, of product liability Insurance is or should be required, and with which features?


-Are the results generated by already patented Artificial Intelligence (AI Boom), be, at its turn eligible to be patented (or entitled to receive copyright protection, as appropriate)?


-What is “electronic personality”? Should a robot be considered, from a philosophical perspective, “electronic persons”, and have a legal status as such, being responsible for making good,  any of damage they may cause, with the same normative perspective as, for example, those applicable to corporations that have legal personality and are liable for wrongful conduct?


-How will Artificial Intelligence transform the way of doing business? In particular how the liability of robots may create barriers for Foreign Direct Investments that multinational corporation need to take into account?

We invite you to follow up on the advances of all these interesting issues, and visit the Web of LEGROB Jean Monnet Module, where relevant advances in research, debates and related activities will be posted.