Lawtech

Blockchain: legal and regulatory guidance (second edition)

We’ve published the second edition of our blockchain report, in collaboration with the Tech London Advocates (TLA) Blockchain Legal and Regulatory Group.

Blockchain image

Over the past 18 months, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has accelerated the use and evolution of distributed ledger technology (DLT) such as blockchain.

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What are DLTs and blockchain?

Distributed ledger technology (DLT)

DLT is an umbrella term for technologies that seek to store, synchronise and maintain digital records across a network of computing centres.

These are distinct from centralised and decentralised ledgers. 

Blockchain

The best known example of a DLT is blockchain.

Blockchains bundle digital records into data container structures known as blocks. 

These blocks are joined to the end of a chain of blocks in chronological order, hence the name.

Who wrote the report?

The TLA Blockchain Legal and Regulatory Group put together the second edition of the blockchain legal and regulatory guidance.

Read the first edition

TLA's dedicated blockchain working group was founded in 2018 and serves as a hub for multi-disciplinary DLT experts.

For the 2022 guidance, we’ve heard from experts including the law commissioner for commercial and common law, Professor Sarah Green, and Alessandro Palombo, CEO of Jur.

A full list of experts who have addressed and fed into the group’s work is set out at annex two of the report.

What’s in the report?

The guidance covers a range of key issues for legal practitioners to be aware of when advising on DLT-related matters.

The report is divided into two parts:

Why is this relevant to lawyers?

Lawyers are increasingly assuming the role of project managers, working with various technological experts and specialists.

Alongside well-known cryptoassets such as the cryptocurrency bitcoin, DLTs offer opportunities to build new platforms, products and protocols.

You need to be aware not only of how network technology and other code-based technologies operate, but how these technologies impact the wider areas of litigation.

This includes how decentralisation and smart contracts are changing the way financial, property and legal services are carried out.

As the complexity of DLT grows, so does the need for lawyers to understand it.

This guidance aims to provide a useful stepping-stone in this process.

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