Emerging Technological Innovations in the Legal Profession and Its Impact on the Regulation of Market Competition: Kenyan Perspective
37 Pages Posted: 30 Apr 2019
Date Written: March 19, 2019
Innovative technologies trigger changes that threaten current markets, social as well as political orders; and the once conservative and exclusive legal market is no longer immune. The increasingly informed tech-savvy client base, the unbundling of legal services, online service delivery, and the application of new technologies in the legal profession such as big data, artificial intelligence, blockchain and automation of legal services continues to disrupt the legal profession in profound ways. For a long time, the legal profession has enjoyed exclusivity in the provision of legal services through state and self-regulation. The entrance of legal technological innovations bring with them competition that is affecting the way the legal market operates. In response and in a bid to maintain the market share and revenues, lawyers have continued to resist the impact of technological innovations. For instance, in 2018 the Kenyan government sought to digitize the land registry. The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) in suing the Ministry of Land against automation of land registry argued that lawyers were the only ones mandated to execute conveyancing process in accordance with Section 34 of the Advocates Act. Further, as a regulatory body, there were no regulations in place on how e-conveyancing was to be conducted. This reaction by the LSK brings fourth key legal regulatory issues that this paper seeks to discuss: the current legal technological innovations in the legal sector, the opportunities and the challenges they present; regulatory concerns such as regulation of unlicensed legal services providers, price regulation and professional competence. Second, the interaction of legal services innovation with professional regulations, the implications of the current legal profession on market competition and the role of competition authorities in enforcing competition in the legal market. Finally, it will review the legal and competition regulatory framework in the wake of emerging disruptive technologies in a bid to provide reforms.
Keywords: technology, legal profession, unjustified monopoly
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