Inaugural Webinar in ALI-ELI Series Kicks Off


On 5 December 2023, ALI and ELI held the first webinar of their joint series. The event , entitled ALI-ELI Principles for a Data Economy: A New Framework for Innovation and Growth, showcased the impact of their pioneering work in the field.

The webinar took place on the occasion of the ALI-ELI Principles for a Data Economy print publication. The Principles can be pre-ordered here. It was opened by ELI President, Pascal Pichonnaz, and ALI President, David F Levi, who welcomed participants. Among other things, President Levi remarked how the project has not only accomplished its goal but exceeded them in the quality and clarity of the final product, while President Pichonnaz invited participants to join subsequent webinars in the series in the course of 2024, including on Automated Decision-Making and Consumer Law, Third Party Funding of Litigation and the Digitalisation of Justice Systems.

The floor was passed to Steve O Weise and Lord John Thomas, the project’s Chairs. Steve O Weise expressed his excitement about having an actual physical book with the Principles fresh from the publisher. He explained that, in addition to the blackletter, the book has extensive explanatory comments both from the US and European perspectives as well as a guide to the Principles. Lord John Thomas spoke about the Principles revolutionary nature. ‘Above all’, he said ‘the Principles are transnational and can work worldwide.‘

Throughout the webinar, videos from experts that collaborated on producing ALI’s and ELI’s global Principles, beginning with Anna Joubin Bret, were featured. Contributions were interspersed with responses from the project’s Reporters, Neil B Cohen and Christiane Wendehorst.

Bret, Secretary of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), remembered when five years ago she sat down with Professor Neil Cohen and Steve Wise to discuss a new joint project between the ALI and the ELI on data contracts and said that it was a privilege for UNCITRAL to watch the Principles develop. She went on to say how pleased she was that the synergies between the ALI-ELI project and UNCITRAL's work program and the interactions and the support UNCITRAL received from the ALI-ELI team have continued well beyond the finalisation of the Principles in 2021: ‘The ALI-ELI Principles played a significant role in UNCITRAL’s work’, she said before thanking Professor Christiane Wendehorst and Professor Neil Cohen for acting as observers to UNICTRAL’s Working Group on E-Commerce.

Atsushi Koide, delegate of Japan to UNCITRAL, congratulated ALI and ELI on the official publication of the Principles. The ALI-ELI Principles, he said, ‘have been repeatedly referred to as a starting point for discussions in the ongoing UNCITRAL project on data provision contracts.’ Koide went on to highlight three aspects in which ALI-ELI Principles are of extreme interest globally: the issues that the Principles consider to be problematic with respect to data contracts and the approach to those issues; the step forward that the Principles take with respect to the default rule for data contracts; and the innate international origin of the Principles.

Among other things, Neil Cohen went on to elaborate on the nine different types of data contracts identified in the ALI-ELI project.

In the words of Sarah Dodds-Brown, Executive Vice President and Deputy General Counsel at American Express: ‘The Principles keep front of mind, the strict data protection regulations such as GDPR and other types of rules that the EU Commission would issue. This makes them workable and relevant across the approaches taken by different jurisdictions, which is a plus for global companies looking to develop a uniform and principled approach to data transactions. … By having a variety of construct examples, the Principles allow parties to identify the most relevant analogies for their business and to flexibly adopt some elements.’ She also praised the ‘flexibility of the Principles that makes them adaptable to be able to accommodate new technologies and innovative business models.’

Dirk Staudenmayer, Head of Unit for Contract Law of the Directorate-General Justice and Consumers at the European Commission, acknowledged the value of the ALI-ELI Principles in the Commission’s work. He said that ‘the ALI-ELI Principles for a Data Economy had and continue to have an impact on the Data Act, which was adopted by the Council on 27 November 2023, and follow-up work’. Staudenmayer added that the Principles paved the path so that legislative initiatives like the Data Act did not need to and initiatives following the Data Act do not need to travel into unchartered territory. He congratulated ALI and ELI on their extremely useful and successful work.

Among other things, Christiane Wendehorst confirmed that the Principles have influenced what the Data Act says about contractual relations about data and said that she is now part of the expert group at the Commission drafting model contractual clauses for parties in the data economy. The Principles are very useful for that work. The Principles also had an influence on data rights.

Maja Bogataj Jancic, a Co-Chair of the Working Group on Data Governance within the Global Partnership of Artificial Intelligence (GPAI), introduced GPAI and its work. Jancic explained that GPAI's research will help make the ALI-ELI Principles more concrete and accessible to new audiences. She thanked ‘ALI and ELI for their work on the Principles and the foundation they have provided for GPAI’s research, and co-generated data’, and said that they look forward to future collaborations.

Lord John Thomas thanked everyone that spoke as well as those that contributed to the lively Q&A discussion that followed. The recording of the video is available below.

Please see the webinar materials below: