(L-R) Pinsent Masons solicitor Ben Gardner and TMT head Simon Colvin with awards judge Philip Bramwell, group general counsel, BAE Systems

Finalists: Bird & Bird; CMS; DLA Piper; Eversheds Sutherland; Herbert Smith Freehills; Slaughter and May (highly commended).

Pinsent Masons triumphed in the TMT team of the year category for its work helping Starship Technologies revolutionise last-mile deliveries by seeking to change the law to allow the company’s six-wheel delivery robots to operate on public footpaths (something that is illegal in most European jurisdictions).

In order to do that, the firm drew on its knowledge of legislation relating to connected and autonomous machines as it embarked on a lobbying effort with key industry bodies and authorities, highlighting parallels that address concerns around data and telecoms, and helping set precedents in an area of law that is failing to keep pace with technological change.

Those efforts have already enabled Starship to enter the German market, with progress also being made in the UK. The company has signed partnership agreements with the likes of Hermes, Dominos Pizza and Just Eat, which are testing the delivery robots in the UK and Germany, with agreements being penned with two major UK supermarket chains.

The firm’s lobbying work has the potential to introduce new legislative standards and open up a new market for technology developers. “It’s about trying to revolutionise the supply chain with robots; a really fascinating submission that will open up a new sector,” a judge summed up.