In the sixth episode of the Autofocus Podcast, we sit down with Anders Nilsson, Managing Partner of the global law firm Bird & Bird.
Anders moved to Dubai in 2014 from Bird & Bird’s Stockholm office, and leads the UAE office of Bird & Bird providing legal and corporate expertise across industries and value chains in the MENA region, from franchise rights to counterfeit protection to data compliance.
UAE Competition Law In Focus
In order to address anti-competitive practices, the UAE created a competition law in 2013, with implementation taking effect in 2017. However, even today, there is very little awareness as to what the law means for the incumbents and new players in the automotive market. What are the ramifications for automotive manufacturers, exclusive importers, and third party suppliers? Significant, if you don’t take the time to canvas the legal landscape and understand how your existing partnership agreements hold up.
Anders also shared interesting insights drawing on Bird & Bird’s extensive experience in intellectual property. Specifically, the conversation of counterfeit protection is a big one on the minds of many in the automotive market. It is no news that counterfeit parts have infiltrated the regional market to a large degree. How might we go about addressing it? What are the safety concerns if we don’t?
Bird & Bird is currently advising organizations and government bodies to be able to tell the difference between original and counterfeit parts floating around in the supply chain. The more important aspect discussed, is the issue of safety original parts. Sometimes aftermarket spare parts can be at par with OEM units in terms of safety, quality, and durability. At such times, is it legally advisable to allow owners to fit these parts to their vehicles without voiding warranty? This is a question that’s been asked for ages in the automotive industry, and Anders skillfully tackled it in the episode.
"A modern aircraft will have 1000 different data sets during a flight. There are currently major disputes between the different stakeholders. The airlines who generated the data, the OEMs who produced the hard metal and all the technology, the service organizations, the insurance companies, the banks who own the aircraft. All of them have good arguments on ownership or control of the data. And I think we will see the same thing when it comes to the automotive industry."
Of course we discussed a hot topic that everyone wants to know more about: autonomous vehicles. From a legal aspect, autonomous vehicles pose a number of new challenges that technology alone will not be able to answer. For instance, when an autonomous vehicle has to decide between hitting a CEO or a mother and child, how does it make that decision? Another question is who is legally responsible for accidents when autonomous vehicles hit roads with a mix of autonomous and human-driven vehicles?
Governance of Automotive Data and AI
As we know, data and artificial intelligence play a major role in connected and autonomous vehicles. This calls for an entirely new set of laws to regulate it. Governments also play a crucial role when it comes to the legal framework. Are world governments focusing on this enough or not? You see different approaches from the UAE’s 2031 Artificial Intelligence strategy to Bahrain’s Data Protection law.
Finally, Anders also stressed on the importance of women in the automotive industry. Hailing from Sweden, he understands and appreciates the effect gender equality can have in any industry. Bird & Bird is devoid of gender bias, firmly believing that not recruiting women in key positions is simply losing out on 50 percent of available talent. The firm also aims to achieve 50 percent female partners in its offices across the world in the coming decade.
The episode rounded off with Anders confessing that he’s a bit of a petrolhead himself. He shared his excitement about car culture in the region and even shared which exceptional sports car he enjoys driving. Listen to find out a few more clues.
Anders Nilsson shared great insights on the legal and governance challenges facing the automotive industry.