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Smart Cities

In a utopian interconnected smart city, no one needs to own anything.

Where location, usage and condition of virtually everything we use in our daily lives can be monitored using a web of sensors and networked digital technology, the citizen of a smart city can pay-as-you-go, from cradle to grave.

The city becomes service-centric. Equipment can be maintained proactively before it breaks down. Manufacturers stop “selling” highly expensive bits of kit and, instead, provide services relating to the provision of that kit. 

But why should the benefit of the internet of things be restricted to cities? Arguably it is easier and there is greater potential impact for towns and smaller communities to adopt truly smart service-centric sustainable living.

But of course, with the dominance of our increasingly urbanised population, the cities are where the big commercial opportunities lie.

Whatever is understood by a particular vision of a “smart city”, the legal implications are many and varied. Fortunately, we at Charles Russell Speechlys have the skill sets to deal with the whole range of opportunities and challenges.

Some of these include:

  • The move from transaction-based “buy-sell” contracts to long term, service level managed relationship agreements
  • Joint ventures, to bring together, for example, public sector schemes with private sector innovation
  • Privacy and data protection – the increasing traceability and predictability of individual actions and personal interactions, together with increased levels of surveillance, makes it critical to appreciate what can and cannot be done with that information; we understand the legal implications and can advise on the exploitation of big data sets
  • Capital fundraisings to finance product/technological development and commercialisation, and growth by acquisition
  • The protection and exploitation of intellectual property rights arising from new technologies
  • The identification and use of new financial models for the funding of high capital expenditure projects, particularly those which generate cost and energy savings, rather than producing income
  • Planning, construction and engineering issues which arise in relation to land use, renewable energy technologies, transport, new build and retrofitting


Research and development

Advising the Energy Technologies Institute LLP (members are Shell, BP, E.ON, EDF, Rolls Royce, Caterpillar and UK Government) on IP licensing, research and development agreements and funding terms for research projects.

Ground source thermal energy

Advising on new lease structuring for installation of renewables for Greenfield Energy Group. This involved giving guidance on the structuring and leasing options/issues for the installation of a major closed loop ground source thermal energy system.

Condition monitoring technology

Advising the shareholders and founders on the disposal of the entire issued share capital of Kittiwake Developments Ltd to Parker Hannifin Corporation (NYSE: PH), the global leader in motion and control technologies. Kittiwake Developments is a leading manufacturer of condition monitoring technology including wear debris sensors, oil testing and analysis instrumentation and acoustic, vibration and gas emissions monitoring sensors.

Waste steam to energy

Advised T&L Sugars Ltd on various agreements for the sale of its electricity. T&L Sugars has a refining operation in east London, generating waste steam which is converted into electricity and "exported" into the electricity grid.

Smart meters

Advised a green energy company on a series of financing rounds and provided commercial contract advice in relation to the development and exploitation of their smart meter technology.