Blockchain report: Lawyers given regulation guidance

A report released by the Tech London Advocates' (TLA) Blockchain Legal and Regulatory Group in conjunction with the Law Society of England and Wales provides lawyers with regulatory guidance around distributed ledger technology (DLT) and clarity on the role smart contracts, cryptoassets and blockchain will play in their future practice.

The use of DLT in business has come to prominence over the last few years. DLTs are a broad umbrella of technologies that seek to store, synchronise and maintain digital records across a network of computing centres.

Over the past year, representatives from TLA, the wider legal profession and experts have addressed key issues for lawyers when they are advising on DLTs including smart contracts, blockchain and cryptoassets.*

The COVID-19 pandemic has incentivised firms of all types and sizes to embrace new technologies and we expect to see a further increase in lawtech adoption rates across the profession.

The report includes a list of key recommendations relating to DLT, including commercial application, data governance, intellectual property, data protection measures and dispute resolution, among others.

Law Society of England and Wales president Simon Davis said: “The publication of this report, which happens during London Tech Week, will provide a clear framework and much needed guidance on the use of blockchain in the legal services sector.

“Technology underpins innovation in legal services and plays a critical role in driving the post coronavirus recovery across all sectors of the economy.

“It is considered that 2020 to 2021 are ‘breakout’ years for DLT, and the pandemic has forced businesses and governments to re-evaluate their service and business models more fundamentally than ever before.

“Our research suggests that the adoption of new technologies could reduce the cost of legal services to UK business users by £350 million by 2030, and double productivity growth in the legal sector.

“Every £1 of productivity saving in the legal services sector in 2020 could generate between £3.30 and £3.50 of additional GDP for the UK by 2050.

“In 2020, every £1 increase in legal productivity is estimated to result in £9.15 to £10.61 of additional capital by 2050.**

“Investing in lawtech now will lay the foundations for the UK’s long-term prosperity, while the UK Jurisdiction Taskforce has demonstrated that English common law is flexible and can adapt to new technologies.”

Notes to editors

*DLT refers to a broad umbrella of technologies that seek to store, synchronise and maintain digital records across a network of computing centres.

Blockchains bundle digital records into data container structures known as blocks. These blocks are appended to the end of a chain of blocks in chronological order.

**Figures taken from the Law Society’s Contribution of the UK legal services sector to the UK economy report, commissioned from KPMG.

The UK Jurisdiction Taskforce is one of the six taskforces of the LawTech Delivery Panel, which is an industry-led group tasked with supporting the digital transformation of the UK legal services sector.

Read the Blockchain Legal and Regulatory Guidance report

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