The year end is always a time for summaries and for forecasts and analyses regarding the future. Current signs are that, after a good 2016, an equally good (if not better) 2017 awaits.

Based on experience, numerous talks with sector representatives and our own observations, my opinion is that, in terms of legal challenges, the focus next year will be on the following:

IoT/Industry 4.0

These are probably the two most interesting issues; they also pose the greatest challenges for lawyers. Projects such as Big Data, autonomous systems (primarily in cars), IoT (e.g. energy management and traffic light systems), M2M (machine-to-machine) and artificial intelligence have given rise to a whole range of new legal challenges. Work on a framework for Industry 4.0 has already started and is currently centred on the following: data ownership and protection, intellectual property and liability. This will also encompass regulations for particular sectors and areas, e.g. electromobility.

GDPR

GDPR = General Data Protection Regulation (in Polish: RODO – Rozporządzenie Ogólne o Ochronie Danych Osobowych)

These two abbreviations will be on everyone’s lips in 2017 (and in 2018). This sweeping reform has led to almost all (not only online) businesses having to adjust to the new regulations. Fines of up to EUR 20 million or, for businesses, up to 4% of global turnover in the prior financial year are effectively stimulating the imagination and driving change. There will doubtless be many questions and concerns, from how to exercise the right to transfer data to how to collect consent from the statutory representative of users who are under 16.

Omnichannel

Although this topic has already been widely discussed, it continues to require reliable legal support as, in addition to technological issues, personal data security and circulation also require attention (whether data processing agreements or employee authorisations will be needed) given that we are dealing with consumer protection matters. The upside is that if a system is generally well-implemented, it should operate efficiently in the future.

Online/international sales

End of the year observations have noted two strong trends. In 2017 the last big player on the traditional sales market announced that it would open online shops. For many (despite it appearing that sales are sales), given the specific nature of online operations (in both legal and tax terms), this will involve a shift to a whole new area. A good implementing agreement, shops having the required documents, and training and piloting are standard matters arising in projects in legal terms. However, there are a lot of players for which the Polish market is too crowded, inclining them to international expansion. This is an area that requires numerous strategic decisions, each of which carries its own legal consequences, e.g. the form of the expansion – own company, representative, branch? In addition to regulations relevant for a given State (e.g. as regards packaging requirements), consumer protection issues also play a very important role.

Implementation/mobile

Storm technologies are becoming increasingly used in e-commerce, which has raised questions over support in implementation, licence and servicing agreements. Securing this area is extremely important in terms of value of the enterprise, and whether modifications or changes to solutions supplied can be made independently. It is also a time for preparing mobile applications that have to be both legally compliant and attractive to customers. Similarly, modest moves, e.g. towards a virtualisation model, require legal support and review of contracts with software suppliers.

In other words, 2017 should be an interesting year!

Domański Zakrzewski Palinka was established in 1993. For many years now DZP has been the largest independent Polish law firm. DZP has its offices in Warszawa, Poznań and Wrocław. It advises clients matching numerous legal specialisations to their areas of activity. What makes DZP’s services different is its understanding of both legal and business needs of the clients, and the many years’ experience and expert knowledge of the specialists.