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Law, Information, Future, Technology

Rapid advances in and the growth of information and data transmission, transaction, exploitation, storage, and management with computer and mobile technologies, software, networks, and systems such as distributed ledgers, blockchains, smart contracts, cryptoassets, artificial intelligence, and quantum computers, affects legal thinking, conduct, and practice and the social contexts in which law operates.

Using critical, speculative, and empirical methods, and inter- and trans-disciplinary approaches, the Law, Information, Future, Technology (LIFT) research cluster explores and analyses shifts, trends, and tensions in existing and emerging techno-legal domains.

Find us on Twitter: @OU_LIFT


Equity and new technological horizons

Online, 8 April 2021, 13.00 to 18.00 (BST)

Dr Robert Herian of The Open University Law School, in conjunction with the Equity and Trusts Research Network (ETRN) and the Law, Information, Future, Technology (LIFT) research group, invites you to join us online from 1pm on 8th April 2021 for an exciting and ground-breaking interdisciplinary virtual seminar exploring interpretations, intersections, and tensions between the law of equity and new technologies. Combining equitable doctrine and principles, speculative theories, critical fields of thought, and futurological perspectives from the likes of Niklas Luhmann, Gilles Deleuze, Franco Berardi, Ian Bogost, Adam Greenfield, and Bernard Stiegler, the seminar aims to offer radical insights into a techno-equitable future.

Equity traditionally encompasses fiduciary law, contractual remedies, injunctions, and trusts, operating in and around common law jurisdictions to mitigate the harshness of bright-line rules and legislative encumbrances.  Equity also finds form and substance in civil law jurisdictions, and critical, sociological, spiritual, and philosophical analyses of legal thought and practice.  Several features of equity’s jurisdiction are undergoing re-evaluation in light of new technologies, notably smart contracts and specific performance, cryptoassets and property definitions, and blockchains and trusts.  Yet equity’s explicit contribution to the shaping of new technological horizons remains under-theorized.

Technologies have long amplified the reach and transformed the character of rules and laws by exposing them to algorithms and intermingling them with code to create alternative systems and networks of governance and regulation.  This meshwork of legal and computer code, jurisdictional and networked practices, human and machinic interfaces exposes new questions and problems for equity.  But equity also offers an important lens through which we can analyse and better understand technologies.  New technological horizons promise a greater and far more sophisticated optimization of human life and systems than classical computing has achieved.  Quantum computers and advanced artificial intelligence will be capable of reasoning, rationalization, simulation, and justification that is truly alien to human understanding.  As a last vestige of human discretionary advantage, equity may be subsumed by new machinic intelligences or destroyed by them, or it may emerge anew tell us inescapable truths about humanity’s relationship with its machines.

Visit the event page for more information and to register your place.


Dr Robert Herian

Dr Robert Herian

Senior Lecturer in Law. Author of Regulating Blockchain (Routledge, 2018) and Data (Routledge, 2021) and contributor to government policy development on blockchain technologies in the UK and EU.

Robert is also a member of the Open Blockchain group at the OU.

Dr Clare Jones

Dr Clare Jones

Senior Lecturer in Law. Author of several publications on cyber financial economic crime and author of AI, Big Data, Quantum Computing and Financial Exclusion: tempering enthusiasm and offering a human centric approach to policy; Money laundering in a Virtual World: How the UK law has responded? Clare is a contributor to the Commonwealth Working Party on Cybercrime.


  • Herian, R. 2021. Data: New Trajectories in Law. 2021. Abingdon: Routledge (forthcoming)
  • Chambers-Jones, C. L. (2021) AI, Big Data, Quantum Computing and Financial Exclusion: tempering enthusiasm and offering a human centric approach to policy. Eds Lui, A. & Ryder, N. Routledge Financial Crime Series.  FinTech, Artifical Intelligence and the law – the right balance of financial innovation and financial inclusion.
  • Herian, R. 2020. Smart Contracts: A Remedial Analysis. Information and Communications Technology Law. 2020 (early access)
  • Chambers-Jones, C .L. 2020. Consumer debt, financial difficulties and poverty during COVID-19.  July 29 2020.
  • Herian, R. 2020. Blockchain, GDPR, and Fantasies of Data Sovereignty. Law, Innovation and Technology. Vol. 12, Issue 1, pp. 156-174
  • Herian, R. 2019. Tokens of Technical Progress: Blockchains, Data Dysphoria & Fantasies of Control. The World Financial Review, Sept/Oct pp.66-69
  • Herian, R. 2019. Libra, Iran and the potential end of cryptocurrencies as we know themThe Conversation, July. 
  • Herian, R. 2019. One Token, Two Sides: Data Dysphoria & Fantasies of Control. Critical Legal Thinking, April.
  • Chambers-Jones, C .L. 2018. Digital Currencies and Organised Crime update. Financial Regulation International.
  • Herian, R. 2018. Regulating Blockchain: Critical Perspectives in Law and Technology. Abingdon: Routledge
  • Chambers-Jones. C. L. 2018. Brexit and Financial Services: Law and Policy, by Kern Alexander, Catherine Barnard, Eilís Ferran, Andrew Lang, Niamh Moloney, Hart Publishing, 2018, ISBN-13: 978-1509915804, pp. 240.  Manchester Journal of International Economic Law, Volume 15, Issue 2, 2018
  • Herian, R. 2018. Blockchain and the Distributed Reproduction of Capitalist Class Power. Money Lab Reader #2: Overcoming the Hype. Amsterdam: Institute of Network Culture, pp.43-51
  • Herian, R. 2018. Regulating Disruption: Blockchain, GDPR, and Questions of Data Sovereignty. Journal of Internet Law, 22(2), pp. 1 and 8-16
  • Herian, R. 2018. Politics of Blockchain. Law & Critique, 29(2), pp. 129-131
  • Herian, R. 2018. Taking Blockchain Seriously. Law & Critique, 29(2), pp. 163-171
  • Herian, R. 2018. Legal Recognition of Blockchain Registries and Smart Contracts. EU Commission Blockchain Observatory and Forum Report, Dec.
  • Chambers-Jones. C. L. 2017. Money laundering in a Virtual World: How the UK law has responded? In: Walker, C., King, C. and Gurule, J. Asset Stripping: Responses to the Financing of Terrorism and Crime, Palgrave, 2017.
  • Chambers-Jones. C. L. 2017. Financial crisis and digital currencies’, In Ryder, N. White Collar Crime and Risk: Financial Crime, Corruption and the Financial Crisis (Palgrave MacMillan, 2017).
  • Herian, R. 2017. Trusts Law in a Post-Trust World: Blockchain and the (Re)imagining of Trusts Jurisprudence.  Strategic Change Journal. 26(5), pp.453-460
  • Herian, R. 2017. Why a blockchain startup called Govcoin wants to ‘disrupt’ the UK’s welfare state. The Conversation, November.
  • Herian, R. 2016. Anything but disruptive: blockchain, capital and a case of fourth industrial age enclosure – Parts I & 2. Critical Legal Thinking, October.
  • Herian, R. 2016. How blockchain could be used to make trusts more transparent. The Conversation, April. 
  • Day, R. & Chambers-Jones, C.L. 2016. The public face of private actions: exploring accountability in bribery and corruption disclosures by companies listed in the UK. Theorie und Praxis aus Rechnungswesen und Wirtschaftsprufung. Nationale and Internationale Enterwicklungen. Eds: Fretchrift fur Univ.-Prof. Dr. Rudolf Steckle.  
  • Chambers-Jones, C. L. 2014 Gambling on a virtual win. Edward Elgar Publishing, December.
  • Clare Chambers-Jones .2013. Policing Cyber Hate, Cyber Threat and Cyber Terrorism. International Journal of Police Science & Management: Spring 2013, Vol. 15, No. 1, pp. 74-75.
  • Chambers-Jones. 2013. Cyber economic crime and commonwealth laws, International Journal of Intellectual Property Management, Vol, 6, Nos. 1 /2, Pp. 95-110.
  • Chambers-Jones, C. L. 2013. Virtual world Financial Crime: legally Flawed, Law and Financial Markets Review, January, pp. 1-9.
  • Chambers, C. L. 2012. Virtual Economics and Financial Crime: Money laundering in Cyberspace, Edward Elgar
  • Ryder, N. & Chambers, C. L. 2009. The credit crunch – are credit unions able to ride out the storm. Journal of Banking Regulation. Vol. 11, 1 76-86.