"We use technology frequently to make our job as lawyers more efficient"

Jose Miguel Bellagamba, head of legal for southern cone region at DiDi, Chile, tells us about how technology is being used to improve the efficiency of lawyers at the company, Chile's progress in regulating ride-hailing companies and others involved in the gig economy, including new rights for its workers, as well as discussing DiDi’s strategy in the face of competition.

Posted Monday, April 11th 2022
"We use technology frequently to make our job as lawyers more efficient"

Jose Miguel Bellagamba

Leaders League: What is the main difference between your role as legal director at DiDi and your previous positions at other companies? How has it changed, for example, regarding risk management? 

Jose Miguel Bellagamba: Before joining DiDi, I was a legal director at an airline. Airlines are, in general, top-heavy companies with very hierarchical structures. Also, aviation is probably one of the most regulated industries in the world.

On the other hand, although DiDi has become a leading mobility technology platform, it remains a startup at heart. In practice, this means that replies such as “that’s not my job” are not encouraged at work. In fact, one of our core company values is ‘Win-Win Collaboration’, which means that staff should have an altruistic spirit with colleagues. We all understand that to achieve excellence, collaborating and going beyond your core job description is vital.

Decisions are taken in an efficient manner, the organization is very horizontal, and the company is very agile. As a legal team, we operate under those same principles, while ensuring that the quality of our legal advice remains untouched. I am very fortunate to have an absolutely outstanding team in Belén Di Cola and Ignacio Oltra.

At the same time, DiDi has always been a strong supporter of fair regulation for ride-hailing and the gig economy in general. Fair regulation allows for the distribution of rights and responsibilities among all actors in a healthy way, and it provides a level playing field, with clear rules for everyone involved. In that sense, one of the main duties of my team is to ensure that DiDi operates according to the highest industry standards.

What role does legal innovation and technology play at DiDi? 

Supporting new and fair regulations makes legal innovation an absolute priority. Flexible mindsets and a very clear understanding of the business we are in are crucial to succeeding in this position. Also, the fact that DiDi is a startup at its core makes technology a resource that we heavily rely on. From contract approval systems, to interfaces for raising questions and review requests, we use technology frequently to make our job as lawyers more efficient.

Have there been any regulatory changes that have impacted the company lately? Is the situation in Chile different from other countries in the region? 

As explained earlier, DiDi has always been in favor of fair regulation, and we firmly believe in operating in a market with clear and unbiased rules for everyone involved. In this sense, we were happy to see Chile take a very significant step forward in regulating gig economies from an employment perspective (the ride-hailing bill remains under discussion in Congress). The Basic Guarantees Law passed in Congress last March introduces certain additional obligations to apps and platforms, and gives independent and dependent workers important rights, such as the right to unionize, the right to earn a minimum wage, and the right to not be subject to discriminatory treatment, among many others.

We hope that this step forward taken in Chile will serve as inspiration for other countries to create fair regulation for ride-hailing and gig economy activities. DiDi has been, and will remain, available to provide insight and assist legislators in any way we can to help introduce regulation that allows the industry to grow organically, creating better life-experiences and greater social value by building a safe, inclusive and sustainable transportation and local services ecosystem for the cities of the future.

How does the company guarantee data protection and privacy? 

DiDi operates under the strictest standards of data protection and privacy. We are constantly reviewing our policies and procedures, to ensure compliance with GDPR, local laws and all other applicable regulation. We regularly perform external audits conducted by third-party specialists, to ensure that we are meeting the highest industry benchmarks.

What are your plans to consolidate your company in the face of competition? 

DiDi’s key differentiator is being a platform that puts drivers and delivery partners at its core. We will continue providing car owners, drivers and delivery partners with flexible work and income opportunities. We aim to make cities smarter, giving users the best possible experience whenever they use our app. Any specific actions and plans that we may take will necessarily derive from our commitment to car owners, drivers and delivery partners.