Global provider of information and analytics LexisNexis Legal & Professional, in partnership with international law firm Bird & Bird and the Association of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems UK (ARPAS-UK), has released a dedicated services agreement precedent for the drone operator market.

The company points out that the drone industry was worth over $4.4 billion in 2018 and is set to grow to $63.6bn by 2025. There are over 5,000 licenced operators working in such diverse areas as law enforcement, land management, facilities operation and TV, and of course agronomy and agricultural applications

But, although the sector is becoming more regulated, until now, there has been no single source of guidance on the laws relating to drone use. There are no templates or precedents specifically written for this growing industry. Drone operators frequently use repurposed general commercial contracts that do not address the specific risks in the use of drones.

Chief executive of ARPAS Graham Brown commented: “As the UK Drone Association, it has concerned us that our members were insufficiently protected by their contracts. Drones are seeing increased commercial use across the UK, and the operators will need specific guidance from their legal teams.”

Once it had identified this problem, LexisNexis worked with its partners to research and create the guidance, and produced a Drone Services Agreement, with accompanying drafting notes, to address the specific legal challenges faced by the drone industry in England and Wales.

Alison Rees-Blanchard, a lawyer at LexisNexis, said: “Our hope is that this work will help shape the drone legal industry. By creating robust, tailored materials that are specifically for this industry, we are ensuring that the providers of drone services can build a credible and dependable reputation.”

Simon Phippard of Bird & Bird adds: “We aim to ensure that the precedent is easy to implement with detailed drafting notes for lawyers. It helps ensure that the balance of responsibilities and liabilities between the customer and the drone operator is fair and can be adapted to cover sophisticated as well as more straightforward relationships.”

ARPAS members have full access to the precedents and guidance – it recommends drone operators contact a solicitor who has access to LexisNexis and get them to prepare the documentation.