The law often struggles to keep pace with a rapidly changing technological society.
Discoveries, inventions and new techniques resulting from new developments in science often pose regulatory challenges for legislators:
Is technological novelty – or the resulting products – covered by existing safety regulations, and if not, should it be? If so, is a new regulatory framework necessary, or can the new technique fit into an existing legal framework for a similar technique? How to implement a new framework?
While lawmakers’ responses to the above questions may vary, it is clear that it will almost always be a delayed response when it comes to the development of the new technique. Technological novelty comes first, regulatory actions come after.
It is rare that a legislator can foresee and will foresee future developments in science and adapt the current regulatory framework to cope with these future technological developments.
Not only are lawmakers overwhelmed by these regulatory challenges. Legal subjects, such as research institutes and companies, which wish to work with, and which are often the very source of new developments, face legal uncertainty:
Are the new technology and / or its products regulated or, in other words, do they fall within the scope of an existing legal framework? If not, will the new technique be framed by a future framework? If so, how severe will this future legal framework be? When will the new framework be implemented? What is allowed or prohibited in the meantime?
This uncertainty is reflected in the behavior of those legal subjects involved. In the presence of a clear answer to the above questions, and for fear of possible legal costs or repercussions, they will adopt a cautious approach in their activities. In turn, this cautious approach could lead to a delaying effect on the further research and development of the new technique.
Consequently, these operators will have to find answers to these questions as soon as possible.