About the Accord Project
What Is It?
The mission of the Accord Project is to facilitate the migration from unstructured contracts to structured contracts, backed by data models and (optionally) computable code. The aim of the smart legal contracts is not only the digitalisation of the legal agreements but also turning them into self-executable transparent commercial relationships by:
1. Building Open Source code for legal-tech: IoT, APIs, SaaS, mobile, web, blockchain.
2. Kick-starting an ecosystem of companies providing/supporting Open legal technology.
We are building a digital society in which the virtual world and the physical world merge, and in which everyone and everything is connected.
Paolo Malinverno, research vice president at Gartner, quoted by Dan Selman, CTO at Clause.io
The Accord Project is an organisation that develops specifications for smart legal contracts and distributed ledger applications for the legal industry. The Project’s aspiration is to enable law professionals, law firms, trade associations, and corporates to establish open implementations for the future of contracting, and to produce open-source code for smart legal contracts and distributed ledger usage in the legal industry. To achieve this purpose, the Accord Project provides four essential tools:
Cicero is the open source implementation of the Accord Project Template Specification. It provides a universal format to structure contract clauses, sections, or whole contracts as machine-readable objects. A template is composed of three elements:
- Template Grammar, the natural language text for the template
- Template Model, the data model that backs the template
- Logic, the executable business logic for the template
Combined, these elements can be searched, edited, analysed, and executed.
Ergo is a computer language specifically developed by Accord Project organisation for writing smart legal contracts. The language is blockchain neutral: the contract logic can be executed on and off chain on a variety of distributed ledger technologies. It is modular, allowing for the reuse of existing contract or clause logic.
Accord Project maintains an open source library of legal clauses and contracts consistent with the Accord Project template specification. The library contains all Accord Project contract and clause templates developed so far, and it is growing as new templates are added. The templates are produced using the Accord Project Cicero format.
Accord Project maintains an open source Models Repository containing standard reusable data models that can be imported and used within the Smart Legal Contract Cicero templates and in Ergo logic.
By providing these tools Accord Project allows law professionals to digitise new or existing legal contracts, connect them to web services, and deploy them to a cloud or a digital ledger platform. The projects comprise all of the software necessary to write, edit and execute standardised smart legal contracts.
In a major development, Accord Project announced at the Accord Project Forum that it has joined Linux Foundation, and now the project is a Linux Foundation project. The same Linux Foundation that has over 1,000 corporate members, including tech giants like Google, Microsoft and Intel to name a few, so not a bad company to be in!
The Inaugural Accord Project Forum
The inaugural Accord Project Forum, hosted by the Linux Foundation and supported by the City of London was held in London on June 6th 2019. It demonstrated that the UK’s top legal minds are rather excited by the distributed ledger technology, and by smart contracts in particular. A number of heavyweight players in the DLT arena made their appearances:
- The International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA) made their case that ISDA’s documentation framework provides an excellent foundation for the development of smart derivatives contracts. The speakers Ian Sloyan and Ciaran McGonagle presented the ISDA CDM 2.0 — the full version of the ISDA Common Domain Model for interest rate and credit derivatives, now available to market participants and technology providers to adopt, implement and deploy in their own production projects.
- IBM’s Jerry Cuomo gave a presentation on his take of the future of the Digital Ledger Technology and its current uses, with emphasis on food industry use cases — food safety and supply chain management.
- The DocuSign team presented their integration with the leading smart contracts company Clause, the Accord Project founder.
- Clyde&Co presented their recently launched parametric smart contract. It is an insurance smart contract that monitors weather data provided by multiple weather providers and could be used by energy companies for hedging their exposure to changes in the weather conditions.
- Law firm Mishcon de Reya presented the potential use of smart contracts based on R3 Corda in the real estate industry.
Corda and the Accord Project
For the Corda community, the presentation of most interest was the one given by R3’s Jason Rozovsky.
Corda, R3’s implementation of distributed ledger technology, is different from most of the other DLT implementations in that:
- The communication in Corda is point to point, as opposed to broadcasting to the entire network, thus resolving any privacy concerns. In Corda, only the parties involved in a transaction can see it.
- It is permissioned — the participants in the Corda network are known entities, who have been invited and have obtained permission to join the network.
- Corda utilises “smart contracts” with legal prose so that they are compatible with traditional legal systems and could be material in case of a dispute in the real world.
- The consensus mechanism in Corda is based on validation from specific network participants called notaries, avoiding the time consuming and energy inefficient block mining. Consensus, in the context of a distributed ledger, means that all participants must see the same data and agree to it and to the history leading to the current state.
Jason presented the integration of Corda with Accord project’s smart legal contracts with the example of the coding of a promissory note. The goal of this application was to demonstrate how a contract may be parsed using Accord Project Cicero and issued as a Corda State onto the ledger.
The project is available in GitHub.
INDUSTRIA and the Accord Project
Just after its inaugural forum INDUSTRIA has become a member of the Accord Project and can take full advantage of the project’s tools and the community resources. We can apply the Project’s templates of smart legal contracts to relevant use cases by using the expanding list of contract and clause templates from the Project’s Template library.
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