The UK Space Agency announced last week that it is to invest £32m over two years in global industry partnerships in an effort to boost growth in the UK Space industry. Grants will be awarded to British companies to work with international partners developing satellite technology to tackle issues like flooding, deforestation and humanitarian crises in emerging economies.

The UK Space sector is growing at over 7% per year and is currently worth £11.3 billion to the UK economy. With over 5,000 jobs created in the last two years, it employs over 34,000 people and supports a further 72,000 jobs in other sectors.

Space law is also a developing area of law governed by an international framework made up of treaties and convention. It is most often encountered in a commercial context in the procurement and launch of satellites. Due to heavily regulated nature of satellites, their cost of construction and the risk associated with them, there is often detailed and complex negotiation of contracts for procurement and launch of satellites.

In particular contracts for the procurement of satellites need to focus on a detailed specification for the manufacture together with a procedure for inspection, testing and acceptance. It is rare that modifications can be made to a satellite once in orbit the length and scope of warranties must be clearly defined, together with any ongoing liability for servicing and correction of defects.

Passing of risk in the satellite and insurance is also very important. The buyer and the manufacturer need to agree on who is responsible for any damage and when.

The parties need to agree on ownership of intellectual property in the design of the satellite itself and any data generated by the satellite. A manufacturer needs to protect its intellectual property in designs, whilst a purchaser will normally want to make sure it has ownership of all data. Where there could be liability for infringement of a third party’s intellectual property a purchaser will want an indemnity from the manufacturer against any liability.

In addition to the above contracts will cover responsibility for export licences and authorisations, price and payment, a schedule for the various stages of manufacture and delivery and all other clauses typically found in a manufacture and procurement agreements.

For further information contact Farleys Solicitors LLP on 0845 050 1958 or email us.