Blockchain: legal and regulatory guidance report (third edition)
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.
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.
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.
To help offer a route through this increasingly complex landscape, it is divided into two parts.
Part 1: Developing technologies
This section covers the growing types and uses of DLTs and specifically cryptoassets, which will increasingly underpin advice and litigations – this includes how DLTs work, public and private blockchains, types of cryptoassets and tokens including NFTs, and social tokens.
Part 2: Impacts on the wider landscape
This covers how DLT is changing the way services including law is practiced and implications for areas of litigation:
- smart contracts
- data and governance
- blockchain consortia
- data protection
- intellectual property rights
- dispute resolution
- environmental, social and governmental (ESG), and
- family law
Who wrote the report?
The TLA Blockchain Legal and Regulatory Group put together the third edition of the blockchain legal and regulatory guidance.
TLA's dedicated blockchain working group was founded in 2018 and serves as a hub for multi-disciplinary DLT experts.
SCL is a registered educational charity and the leading UK organisation for those advising and practising within the tech law sector.
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.