Global law firm Dentons has developed the concept for the first draft law on robotics in Russia. Commissioned by Grishin Robotics, the document aims to trigger a discussion on the comprehensive legislative regulation of robotics.

The concept is based on the idea that robots can be considered as property, similar in some ways to animals. On the other hand, in light of the development of robotics, there are obvious prospects for using robots as autonomous human agents, and this is the challenge being discussed in the global scientific community. The primary objective of the concept draft law is to start a discussion on how to regulate robots in order to prepare for the spread of emerging technologies in daily life.

The concept was sent to the country’s scientific and academic institutions for critique and exchange of ideas.

The text of the concept is presented below. Final updates to the concept can be found on the official page of the first robotics draft law in Russia on social network VKontakte.

Draft of Dmitry Sergeevich Grishin, Grishin Robotics

Federal law “On Amendments to the Russian Federation Civil Code with respect to Developing the Legal Regulation of Relations in the Field of Robotics”

To introduce the following amendments to part one of the Russian Federation Civil Code (Collected Legislation of the Russian Federation No. 32 of 5 December 1994, item 3301):

1) To add Chapter 6 with the following content:

“Chapter 6. Robot Agents

Article 127.1. The Concept of the Robot Agent

  1. A robot agent is a robot which, by decision of its owner and due to its design features, is intended to participate in civil commerce. A robot agent has separate property and uses it to be liable for its obligations, may acquire and exercise civil-law rights and bear civil-law responsibilities in its own name. In the cases established by law, a robot agent may be a party to civil proceedings.
  2. The types of robot agent models must be registered by their manufacturers in a unified state register of robot agents. The procedure for creating and maintaining the register of robot agents and the authority competent to create and maintain such a register shall be determined in accordance with federal robotics legislation.
  3. A robot shall be deemed a robot agent and be vested with legal capacity provided its model is registered in the unified state register of robot agents and as of the public announcement by its owner that it starts to function with such a status. Until such registration and public announcement the actions of the robot shall be considered the actions of its possessor in accordance with the general rules on robots set forth in this Code, a law or other legal acts. The requirements to the public announcement and additional conditions for the robot agent to start or stop, and/or be suspended from having legal capacity shall be determined in accordance with the robotics legislation.
  4. Registration of robot agent models is voluntary. The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to robots whose models have not been registered as robot agents.
  5. As of removal of the robot model from the register of robot agents, responsibility for the actions of the robot agent before third parties shall be borne by the owner subject to the terms and conditions specified by the contract between the owner and the possessor(s) and the provisions of a law or other legal acts.

Article 127.2. Application of Civil Legislation to Relations with Robot Agents

  1. The civil legislation on legal entities may be applied by analogy to civil-law relations with robot agents unless provided otherwise by this Code, a law or other legal acts, and also to the extent that this does not contradict the nature of such relations.
  2. The civil legislation on legal entities may be applied by analogy to robot agents in accordance with clause 1 of this article, including in cases where a robot agent acts as the subject of a contractual relationship.
  3. The civil legislation on property shall apply to civil-law relations with robot agents unless provided otherwise by this Code, a law or other legal acts, and also to the extent that this does not contradict the nature of such relations.
  4. The civil legislation on property shall apply to robot agents in accordance with clause 3 of this article, including in cases where a robot registered as a robot agent acts as the object of transactions or the object of relations associated with the responsibility of the possessor of a source of increased danger, for harm caused by that source.

Article 127.3. The Possessor of a Robot Agent

  1. The possessor of a robot agent should be understood to be the legal entity, individual or other robot agent who uses the robot agent on the basis of ownership title, economic management, operative management, lease or other lawful grounds.
  2. Relations between the owner, possessor and/or between possessors of a robot agent shall be governed by contracts concluded between the parties. Absent such contracts, the owner shall be deemed the possessor of a robot agent. Such contracts shall be concluded in written form and are subject to state registration according to the procedure determined by the competent robotics authority.
  3. In the event of irremediable doubts as to which person is the owner and/or possessor of a robot agent, including doubts that have arisen due to technical malfunctions, defects or errors in the functioning of the robot agent, the individual or legal entity, respectively, acting as the last owner or possessor of the robot agent with respect to which there are no such irremediable doubts shall be deemed the owner or possessor of the robot agent.

Article 127.4. Responsibility for the actions of a Robot Agent

  1. The owner and possessor of a robot agent shall bear responsibility for the actions of the robot agent to the extent of their owned property transferred into the possession and/or use of the robot agent.
  2. In cases where the responsibility of the robot agent is connected with its legal nature as property (including if harm is caused by activity creating increased danger to the public), responsibility for the action of the robot agent shall be borne by its possessor in accordance with Article 1079 of this Code.
  3. In any of the cases mentioned in this article, the respective person who is the owner and/or possessor of the robot agent shall bear responsibility for the actions of the robot agent unless they prove that the grounds for responsibility arose as a result of the actions of the person who developed, manufactured and/or performed maintenance of the robot agent.
  4. Unless provided otherwise by a law or a contract, the person who developed, manufactured and/or performed maintenance of the robot agent shall bear responsibility in accordance with this article regardless of fault.

Article 127.5. Representation involving Robot Agents

  1. Robot agents may act on behalf of an owner and/or possessor as representatives.
  2. The authority of a robot agent to act as a representative shall be confirmed by a public announcement of the owner and/or possessor of the robot agent and by a record in the robot agent’s information system. This record must be signed with an electronic signature that is considered equivalent to a handwritten signature in accordance with the legislation on electronic signature. The person who authorized the robot agent in accordance with this clause shall be obligated to ensure that information about the authorization and the scope of authority is made available to anyone who enters into a contractual relationship with the robot agent before such relationship commences.
  3. Absent the circumstances specified in clause 2 of this article, the robot agent shall be deemed to be acting on its own behalf.

Article 127.6. Management of a Robot Agent

  1. Unless provided otherwise by a contract between the owner and the possessor of a robot agent, the robot agent shall be managed by its immediate possessor.
  2. The provisions of civil-law legislation on the supreme management body of a legal entity may be applied by analogy to the actions of the person managing the robot agent to the extent this does not contradict the nature of the relationship with the robot agent.
  3. A robot agent shall be managed by changing the parameters of the computer program, database and/or information system of the robot agent.
  4. The person managing the robot agent shall have the right at its own risk to engage third parties to perform such management.
  5. Any actions related to changing the functionality and/or changing the model of the robot agent shall not be considered management of the robot agent. Owners and possessors of robot agents shall be prohibited from making changes to the model of the robot agent which is specified in the unified state register of robot agents. In the event such changes are made, the given person (owner or possessor, as the case may be) shall ensure the activity of the robot agent is suspended until the respective changes are entered in the register.

Article 127.7. Legal Capacity of a Robot Agent

  1. Robot agents may participate in civil commerce only in those types of activity that are established by the competent robotics authority of the Russian Federation.
  2. The competent robotics authority of the Russian Federation may limit the cases where robot agents participate and within the scope of a single type of activity, and also establish other restrictions and/or requirements applicable to robot agents, their owners, possessors and other persons participating in relations with robot agents.

Article 127.8. Representation of the Interests of a Robot Agent

  1. Unless otherwise established by this Code, a law, other legal acts or a contract between the owner and/or possessor of a robot agent, the robot agent shall represent its own interests in civil commerce independently, to the extent of its design features and information system capabilities.
  2. Each robot agent shall be equipped with a function of urgent notification of a legal conflict that cannot be resolved based on the design features and capabilities of its information system. Persons entering into relations with a robot agent must have the ability to use this function but shall bear responsibility for damages caused as a result of unjustified use of this function.
  3. If the urgent notification function mentioned in clause 2 of this article is deployed, the legal relations with the person who deployed this function shall be considered suspended until the last individual or legal entity owner and/or possessor of the robot agent enters into the relationship.
  4. Only individuals or legal entities that are the owners of the robot agents may represent the interests of the robot agents before the courts, law enforcement authorities and other bodies or organizations requiring the direct participation of a human.

Article 127.9. Self-Regulation in Robotics

  1. The federal legislation on robotics may provide for the creation of self-regulating robotics organizations.
  2. Within the limits contemplated by the federal robotics legislation, self-regulating robotics organizations may develop industry standards and codes of conduct that must be complied with by owners and possessors of robot agents and by the robot agents themselves.
  3. The compliance with robotics industry standards and codes of conduct by robot agents may be ensured by changing the parameters of computer programs, databases and/or information systems of robot agents.

2) To add Article 138 with the following content:

“Article 138. Robots

The term robot shall be defined in accordance with the provisions of federal robotics legislation.

The general rules on property shall apply to robots unless otherwise established by this Code, a law or other legal acts.

When creating, maintaining and/or operating civilian robots it shall not be permitted to include in the software and/or hardware part of the robots objects, devices and/or functions knowingly intended to cause harm to humans, or for taking other actions violating the requirements of Russian Federation legislation.”

To introduce the following amendments to part two of the Russian Federation Civil Code (Collected Legislation of the Russian Federation, No. 5 of 29 January 1996, item 410): To add a clause 4 to Article 1079 with the following content:

“A robot shall be deemed a source of increased danger if, due to its design features and/or the parameters of its information system, its actions create an increased likelihood of harm being caused due to the impossibility of a human to fully control this likelihood.

For the purposes of this article, robots that are robot agents shall be considered property, with the exception of the robot agents specified in the third paragraph of clause 4 of this article.

Robot agents acting as parties to legal relationships and which are possessors of other robot agents shall bear responsibility for harm caused by activity creating increased danger for the public, regardless of fault.

The provisions of this article shall not apply to cases where robot agents act as parties to legal relationships and complete transactions for themselves, including entering into contractual relationships with other persons.”

This Federal Law is a part of the federal robotics legislation.

As of the entry into force of this Federal Law and until the entry into force of a federal law governing robotics relations:

  1. The following basic definition shall be used: a robot is a device capable of acting, determining its actions and evaluating their consequences on the basis of information received from the external environment without full human control.
  2. The provisions of civil legislation on robots shall not apply to computer programs which, although they are capable of acting, determining their actions and evaluating their consequences without full human control based on the results of processing information received from the external environment, are, however, not part of the information system of a separate device intended wholly or partially to take physical actions autonomously.
  3. The Russian Federation Government shall be the competent Russian Federation robotics authority and the competent Russian Federation authority for creating and maintaining the register of robot agents.

Article 4

This Federal Law enters into force on 1 March 2018.