13 NOV 2019 | WWW.LAWYER-MONTHLY.COM Monthly Roundup News Britain’s laws are harming hi-tech companies who want to operate in the burgeoning space indus- try, experts have warned. The failure to build sup- port for businesses within current legislation makes it more likely they will move abroad, according to new research. The study, the result of consultation with firms operating and hoping to operate in space, says UK laws are too risk-averse to allow companies to work easily in a unique and multi-national industry, particularly in the age of commercial activities out- side Earth. This creates a risk that the firms will leave the UK, and commercial space operations will flourish in nations with less stringent regulations, according to a new report by academ- ics at the University of Ex- eter Law School. The report urges the Gov- ernment to review laws, so they take into account the realities of the mod- ern space industry. It says UK legislation relating to space is not well designed because it is based on an outdated view of space activity, where different countries are responsible rather than businesses. Companies are playing an increasingly important role in advancing space technology, and currently the regulatory regime is not adequately designed for this reality. The report recommends more atten- Britain’s laws are harming businesses operating in space, experts warn BUSINESS LAW tion should be paid to the question of how intellec- tual property laws apply in outer space. The experts also urge the UK Government to start exploratory studies to find ways to legally pro- tect the interests of British companies operating in space, particularly in rela- tion to intellectual proper- ty for copyright works and inventions arising from or in outer space. Dr Naomi Hawkins, from the University of Exeter Law School, who led the research, said: “Updat- ing Britain’s laws regard- ing space could help the space industry prosper. to operate in space to be processed and the prohibitive cost of the compulsory third-party in- surance required are also significant barriers to the entry of small and medi- um enterprises and start- up companies to the UK space industry, accord- ing to the report. It urges the UK Space Agency to review how these regula- tions are conducted. Commercial work in space often involves companies and technol- ogy based in different countries, which means the activity must comply with the legal regulations of multiple countries. This adds additional burdens If this work doesn’t take place, we may sleepwalk into a situation where our legislation very quickly becomes completely un- suitable. “The space industry is very competitive, but it also of- fers opportunities for the UK’s technology compa- nies. Britain could be at the forefront of cutting edge space technology research. It is important that the UK gets the bal- ance right between the protection of the public interest and encouraging innovation in this impor- tant field.” The length of time it takes for licencing applications for space technology businesses. In the UK the Outer Space Act 1986 and the Space Industry Act 2018 regulate commercial space activi- ties carried out in the UK or by UK nationals. They are designed to protect national and public in- terests, rather than com- mercial interests. They do not provide clarity on whether intellectual prop- erty rights apply to inven- tions or creations arising from or in outer space and this is detrimental to UK firms. The report urges the UK government to re- view this.