Travers Smith has announced the launch of a force majeure tool, which is 100% homemade and leverages open source software libraries. It joins a growing number of law firms and legal tech companies offering bespoke doc analysis resources in the wake of the crisis. The tool will also be free for clients in the hope it then generates demand for paid advice on more complex aspects of a client’s contracts.
The homemade tool allows contracts to be ‘sent in bulk to a centralised mailbox within Travers Smith, which automatically analyses the contract based on pre-defined legal rules. The tool then provides a report which will help businesses decide which contracts they should prioritise for more detailed analysis,’ the firm explained.
The tool can be accessed by Travers Smith’s clients sending an email to a predefined mailbox, attaching the contracts that need reviewing. The tool has been programmed to identify the key terms and phrases that are commonly seen in force majeure provisions. It will then produce an email reply, attaching a summary report in Word and, where more than one document has been attached, an additional report in Excel format.
For each contract, the report will indicate:
- if there is force majeure-type wording
- if there is wording relating to pandemics, epidemics or illness
- if there is wording relating to government action
- if there is generic force majeure-type wording relating to events beyond the parties’ reasonable control
- if there is wording which indicates presence of a termination right linked to force majeure.
The report will also extract relevant wording from the contract for review.
The firm added that the tool is ‘not guaranteed to be accurate in all cases and is intended to be used when reviewing business-to-business contracts, not business-to-consumer contracts (where different considerations under consumer protection law apply)’.
Richard Brown, Partner, Commercial, IP and Technology commented: ‘The thinking behind this offering is to help [clients] navigate through the next few weeks and months by accelerating their ability to assess which contracts require attention or further analysis.’
While Shawn Curran, Head of Legal Technology at the firm, added ‘We think how we are delivering this software is on-point with the current market. Clients simply email us their contracts, as they would their lawyer, and we provide a fully automated review using a combination of our legal expertise and internally developed machine learning capabilities.
‘There is no messing about with portal logins and the question of ‘where is my data going’. We expect to re-use this delivery mechanism across many review processes.’
Is this a big deal?
Force majeure is the clause of the moment for contract reviewers and a lot of businesses are offering ways to isolate it and find out what it says with automated tools. So, the main area of interest is that the firm built this itself using open source software rather than relying on a tech vendor.
The free offering then opens up the chance to offer more complex and high value work, hence this can be seen as a freemium model.
We can expect to see more offers like this as the days go by.