Blockchain distributed ledger and cryptocurrency technologies are revolutionizing equity fundraising, financial services, and a variety of corporate and commercial transactions and operations, and prompting rapid regulatory change in multiple jurisdictions. Bennett Jones’ Blockchain and Fintech Group helps clients navigate the legal complexities of this new environment to help clients create and seize opportunities and mitigate risk.
As part of our commitment to this sector, Bennett Jones is also the first Canadian law firm to join the legal working group of the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance, the world’s largest open-source blockchain initiative, dedicated to evolving smart contract Blockchain technologies for enterprise application across industries.
As "initial coin offerings" or "initial token offerings" have hit the market, Canadian and U.S. securities regulators have indicated that these distributions are subject to securities law requirements. Blockchain and cryptocurrency are also expected to have huge impacts on areas such as insurance, financial services, international trade, transportation and supply chain management, logistics and value/asset transfer, information technology and tax. As smart contracts and distributed autonomous organizations are designed, implemented and become more common, appropriate legal frameworks will need to evolve to deal with administration, trust, course alteration, ownership, interpretation, disputes and any coding errors, each of which can lead to unintended consequences. These are all arenas our lawyers know well.
Concurrent developments in the Fintech space add other important considerations, involving cutting-edge technologies, information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructures and novel business models. Ongoing developments in API and App economy business models, democratization of coding tools, increasing competence of artificial intelligence and ‘big data’ analytics, and advances in quantum computing also present unique regulatory and market challenges for retail and commercial banking, e-commerce, wealth management, capital markets, procurement and supply chain management, automated contracting and payments systems.
To support the myriad of legal needs in this space, Bennett Jones has assembled a multi-disciplinary team that includes specialists from our securities and capital markets, corporate-commercial, financial services, information technology, intellectual property, tax and knowledge management groups. Our Group stays on the cutting edge of developing technologies, the intersection of these technologies with the law and the impact these technologies have on the way legal services are delivered.
How we help our clients:
- Seeing opportunities from all angles – We have advised blockchain and fintech start-ups, system and software developers and suppliers, both funded and established companies, investors, financial institutions, government agencies and ancillary service providers, giving us a 360 degree perspective on the commercial and technical realities, risks and opportunities in these sectors.
- Expertise for the entire life cycle – Our team draws on multi-disciplinary expertise to assist at every stage of the business life cycle – including innovation, product development, inbound and outbound licensing, protection and commercialization of intellectual property, development of novel business models, regulatory compliance, raising capital, attracting investment, partnerships and joint ventures, acquisitions and exit strategies.
- Relationships with regulators and policy-makers – We enjoy strong relationships – and in some cases, advisory mandates – with the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI), the Ontario Securities Commission and other securities and financial institution regulatory authorities, broker/dealer authorities and policy influencers such as the Department of Finance, Bank of Canada and industry groups such as the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance. These relationships enable us to have a broad understanding of the changing regulatory landscape, now and in future, regionally, provincially, federally and internationally, to help attain compliance and mitigate regulatory risk.