Electronic registries are the most important element of systems that collect, store, disseminate and establish rights in data or property represented by that data. The incorrect use and mismanagement of these registries can result in liability and legal uncertainty that translates to substantial economic and commercial damages.
The Cape Town Convention, which, through its various Protocols establishes electronic registries for different types of high value mobile assets, sets out a standard for the responsibility of registrars of modern electronic registries with the only defence being that of having followed ‘best practices’ in registry design, operation and back-up. However, ‘best practices’ in electronic registries is not defined by the Convention, nor have international parameters been set forth.
To assess these items and help fill this void, the Commercial Law Centre of Harris Manchester College at the University of Oxford and the UNIDROIT Foundation have created the ‘E-registry project on the topic of Best Practice in the Field of Electronic Registry Design and Operation.’ This is inter-disciplinary in nature, seeking to develop and link elements of the ‘best practices’ standard and develop a framework from both legal and technical angles.
Two workshops consisting of leading experts and academics in the field have been held at Oxford University for this project. The first of these set out the issues that should be discussed within this project:
a) Classification of Global Electronic Registry Systems;
b) Methods, Best Practices, and Technologies in Global Electronic Commerce;
c) Future Application of Block chain and Related Technologies;
d) Ensuring Trust: Authentication, Data Integrity and Application Security;
e) Digital Evidence: Disclosure, Discovery & Admissibility.
The second workshop made progress towards establishing a definition of electronic registries, identification of critical performance factors, risk management of those factors; and the usefulness of technical standards.
The establishment of such a best practices guide will ensure a greater level of stability and security to industries in which e-registries play an important role. The UNIDROIT Foundation is presently seeking contributions for this project in order to enhance the research being done and to involve a greater number of experts and professionals in the discussion.
The e-registry project is a joint undertaking between the Commercial Law Centre and the UNIDROIT Foundation.
An interview with Rob Cowan, the managing director of the International Registry, explaining the work of the Registry, is available here.