Invitation to tender: An organisation to explore legal incorporation of two data trusts

Fri Nov 30, 2018
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The ODI is looking for an organisation to explore legal incorporation of two data trusts

The ODI is looking for an organisation to explore legal incorporation of two data trusts

30 November 2018

Tender reference: DTE-001

Call for tenders by the Open Data Institute
Contact: [email protected]

The objective of this work is to explore the legal incorporation of two data trusts.

The successful organisation will work in collaboration with the Open Data Institute (ODI) who will provide guidance, review and assistance throughout.

Summary and timeline

To explore legal incorporation of two data trusts.

The primary audience will be people and organisations with an interest in the data held by the data trusts.

The secondary audience will be people, policy makers and organisations with an interest in the concept of data trusts.

Work to be delivered between 3 January 2018 and 31 March 2018.

Value of award (excl. VAT)
Up to £100,000

Questions to ODI by
5pm on 4 December 2018

ODI responses by
5pm on 5 December 2018

Costed proposals due by
5pm on 12 December 2018

Tender decision by
5pm on 17 December 2018

Contract awarded
12pm on 21 December

ODI brief successful applicant(s)
3 January 2018

ODI progress reviews

Final work delivered by
27 March 2018

Tender reference:

[email protected]

Terms of payment

50% of the agreed value of the award will be paid at the beginning of the project i.e. 3rd January, subject to a valid invoice being provided, and the remaining 50% will be paid upon completion of the work, 29th March 2019, including satisfactory responses to all feedback from the ODI.


The Open Data Institute (ODI) is undertaking research into ways to increase access to data for new technologies while retaining trust. As part of this work, the ODI is exploring the concept of ‘data trusts’, including whether they can increase access to data, build trust in the ways that data is used, and be made more repeatable and scalable.

After completing a discovery phase, the ODI has recommended a definition of a data trust for use in further work. Under this definition, a data trust is ‘a legal structure that provides independent third party stewardship of data’. Historically, trusts have been used to hold and make decisions about assets such as property or investments – a data trust takes this concept and applies it to data.

The ODI, UK Government and other stakeholders will now be working together to undertake three data trust pilots. This tender is for legal support on two of those data trust pilots.

As it is funded from a different source at the same time, we are tendering separately for legal advice on another data trust pilot. You will be able to bid on both tenders.

Each data trust pilot will consist of the following activities:


  1. Engagement with data stewards
  2. User research and engagement
  3. Running briefing workshop


  1. Exploring legal incorporation of a data trust
  2. Designing an engagement process
  3. Designing a data access process
  4. Designing a technical architecture
  5. Exploring how the benefits of data access should be distributed


  1. Assessment of data trust viability
  2. Project management
  3. Communications and dissemination

The ODI will engage and convene third party expertise from organisations specialising in topics related to these activities.

This invitation to tender (ITT) is designed to engage an organisation to work in collaboration with the ODI on Activity B.4. ‘Exploring legal incorporation of a data trust’ on two of these data trust pilots. At the same we are tendering separately for legal advice into another data trust pilot as it is funded from a different source. You will be able to bid on both tenders.

We are also recruiting a Legal Consultant to join our team to help provide different points of view and reviews of your deliverables.


The data trust pilots will not necessarily create a data trust. Instead they each will explore a series of research questions, produce a design for a data trust, and make recommendations for next steps to the particular data holders. Together this will be synthesised to generate learnings on the concept of data trusts and a framework for building them.

The concept of data trusts touches on a range of different legal practice areas, such as data protection, commercial/corporate, competition, intellectual property and trust. Under Activity B.4. ‘Exploring legal incorporation of a data trust’, the successful organisation will provide legal advice in response to questions including but not limited to:

  • What types or forms of existing trust might be adopted and/or adjusted to create a data trust?
  • Is the incorporation of an existing type or form of trust required to create a data trust? Can the desired relationships, responsibilities and outcomes be facilitated through a different legal ‘personality’ (e.g. via contracts or by establishing an organisation)?
  • What are the implications of creating a data trust in terms of existing data protection and other domain specific legislation (i.e. establishing a legal basis for a data trust and the status of data controllers and processors in the case of personal data)?
  • How does a transfer of rights to a data trust work from a legal perspective (i.e. what is required to facilitate the transfer or delegation of decision-making capability)?
  • What types of liability would existing under a data trust?
  • What is the legal process for creating and operating a data trust (e.g. requirements, timeframes and costs)?
  • How does the legal nature of a data trust interact, relate and/or overlap with the data trust’s deliberative engagement processes, data access processes and technical architecture?

Some of this advice will need to be tailored to each of the data trust pilots, as there will be different organisations, relationships and outcomes required across them. We understand that some of the advice will be applicable to the concept of data trusts in general.

We expect the successful organisation to use different methods to derive the information required to provide this advice, such as meetings with the ODI and data holders and/or workshops to convene different stakeholders. We also expect the advice to be developed iteratively based on developments and findings from other activities undertaken as part of each of the pilots.

The successful organisation will produce:

  • a draft and final written report advising on the topics described above (at a minimum) for each data trust pilot (x2), which will be used to inform the recommendations made to the data holders.
  • a draft and final written report covering advice that is applicable to the general concept of data trusts.

These reports will be combined with the outputs of the other activities being undertaken by the ODI and published under an open licence for anyone to access, use and share.

Other deliverables, if deemed useful to meet the objectives of the project, may be included in your proposal.


In addition to the deliverables (and means of producing them) described above, the successful organisation will also be expected to attend project meetings and other events as appropriate.

The successful organisation will work in close collaboration with the ODI team, and other third parties such as our independent legal expert, to ensure the deliverables meet the needs of the project.

The ODI will, where possible, provide space to work in our offices in London, when members of the successful contractor wish to work onsite. There is an expectation that the successful contractor will work closely with the ODI team, which includes regular face-to-face meetings and being available remotely (e.g. using skype, email and/or slack).

Form of tender response

Interested parties should submit a costed proposal (in English) to [email protected] which includes:

  • the tender reference in the email subject line;
  • a short (no more than 5 pages) explanation of your proposed approach (e.g. methodology and scope);
  • a description of why you are well-placed to complete the work;
  • a description of the team who will do the work (including biographies and previous related work);
  • a costing at an activity level

If you have any questions about the tender, please contact [email protected] quoting the tender reference. The ODI reserves the right to make both anonymised questions and answers public or shared with other organisations having stated their interest.

Decision criteria

All proposals will be assessed as described in our public procurement policy. In addition, for this procurement we will be looking for:

  • evidence of experience and expertise in this area;
  • evidence of convening and working with multiple stakeholders;
  • ability to communicate well in written form.

Frequently asked questions

Q: For the purposes of conflict clearance, are you able to confirm who the second and third pilots are with?

A: Unfortunately not. The second and third pilots are likely to include a range of stakeholders in the recycling, retail and wildlife sectors. As soon as we’re in a position to share this more openly, we will advise all bidders.

Q: If you appoint two different law firms are you expecting the two firms to work in collaboration and come up with a single set of advice/thinking on this?

A: If two different law firms are appointed then it would be ideal if they worked collaboratively, but we also think that the firms will be able to work independently. We are recruiting a Legal Consultant to help us align the approach across the two projects.

Q: Would we be able to submit three proposals (i.e. one for each ITT individually and one for both)?

A: No. We can only accept two proposals – one per tender.

Q: Does the concept of ‘people and organisations with an interest in data’, i.e. the primary audience, cover both contributors of data and also users of data?

A: Yes, it covers both contributors of data and also users of data.

Q: Please confirm the ODI’s intention in respect of the use of a ‘legal trust’. Is there any scope to consider other forms of legal incorporation?

A: Our intention is to investigate and evaluate options.

Q: Please advise how different the ODI expects the data trusts to be and how different the ODI wants the pilot solutions to be?

A: We are hoping that there will be a common approach, but we are open to whether that is possible. The pilots will help us to do that.

Q: Please clarify how you intend to split the ‘general advice’ across the two procurements. Much of the projects will cover the same ground, is there a risk of significant work duplication?

A: We will work with the successful bidder(s) to mitigate this risk in early January.