Stewarts partner Marc Jones has again co-authored the chapter on decentralised autonomous organisations (DAOs) in the third edition of the “Blockchain: Legal & Regulatory Guidance” report produced by the Law Society, Society for Computers & Law and Tech London Advocates. The full report is available to view and download for free.

The Master of the Rolls and the Law Society President contributed forewords to the report. The Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Vos wrote: “The TLA’s Guidance is now comprehensive and wide-ranging. It will provide the necessary blockchain education for lawyers practising in every field from crime and family to competition and commercial. I wholeheartedly congratulate the contributors and welcome the third edition.”

Law Society President Lubna Shuja added: “Solicitors are critical in assuring new technologies have been designed, developed, deployed and used responsibly and ethically. We have a duty to our clients, the public, and the profession to ensure that new technologies are used in a way that upholds the rule of law and protects the interests of our clients…I want to thank the Tech Law Advocates and the Society for Computers and Law for their work producing this publication and the many experts who contributed.”

The DAO chapter has been significantly expanded this year and now looks in more detail at what they are and how they are used. The pros and cons of DAOs are considered in light of real world success and failures. The chapter highlights legal issues to consider when setting up or participating in a DAO, including territoriality and jurisdiction; the implications of local regulation (including tax considerations); the legal consequences of how a DAO is structured; the potential liability of developers and members of DAOs; and the governing law of a DAO. The chapter concludes with a review of current DAO trends.

A steady stream of reports from governments, and national and international regulators in recent years – including most recently from HM Treasury and IOSCO (the International Organisation of Securities Commissions) – have consistently highlighted the difficulties of grappling with decentralised finance, an area where DAOs could have an increasing impact. The question of how the law should deal with DAOs is an important and urgent one.


What does the report include?

The new third edition updates and expands upon the 2022 publication, and for the first time has been prepared in collaboration with the Society for Computers and Law (SCL), a registered educational charity which promotes the use and understanding of information technology in the context of the law.

Other topics covered in the report include:

  • An overview of distributed ledger technologies (DLT)
  • Their commercial application
  • Regulation of cryptoassets
  • Types of cryptoassets, defi and on-chain compliance
  • Non-fungible tokens (NFTs)
  • Smart contracts and data governance
  • Blockchain consortia
  • Data protection
  • Intellectual property
  • Dispute resolution
  • Competition
  • Blockchain and tax
  • ESG implications
  • Family law
  • Legal and regulatory impacts of non-centralisation


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