September 21, 2017

Clyde & Co launches first-of-its-kind smart contracts consultancy

Global law firm Clyde & Co has today launched an innovative new consultancy to advise insurers and clients in other sectors on all aspects of the burgeoning new area of smart contracts, blockchain and distributed ledger technologies.

Clyde Code, as the consultancy will be called, provides clients with legal and technical advice and services to help them realise the growing potential of smart contracts.  Gary Nuttall, a market-leading independent consultant on smart contract, blockchain and distributed ledger technologies will be the lead technical consultant, supported by the independent advisory group he works with, Team Blockchain.

The services provided by Clyde Code will include: smart contract creation; existing contract enhancement; contract verification (to ensure that contracts will work as intended legally and technically); contract enforcement and dispute resolution; and forensic investigations in relation to smart contract failures.

Smart contracts are coded instructions which execute on the occurrence of an event, often using a blockchain or other related technology to record and enact it.  Their implementation and impact can be far reaching. For example, smart contracts allow for insurance monies to be transferred virtually immediately on the occurrence of an event – such as travel insurance paying out following a flight delay. Additionally, smart contracts allow ship owners to monitor their cargo continuously and update insurance contracts in real time as conditions change.

As part of the consultancy a Clyde & Co team led by partners Lee Bacon and Nigel Brook in London, Sally Sfeir-Tait in Abu Dhabi and Christina Terplan in San Francisco will provide the legal advice and services. With Gary Nuttall as the lead technical consultant, Clyde Code is a first-of-its-kind partnership covering both technical and legal aspects of smart contracts.

Lee Bacon, Partner at Clyde & Co, says: "Blockchain provides the rails that smart contracts run on and together they have the potential to radically change and simplify legal contracts and transactions. But legal and technical advice is needed to ensure that workable agreements are reached and enforced.

"We are already actively engaged in reviewing smart contract and related distributed ledger transactions across multiple sectors, so setting up a standalone consultancy to bring together our legal expertise in this area is a natural next step. However, legal advice cannot operate in a vacuum, especially around technology and concepts that are so fast-moving, which is why a critical element of Clyde Code is our partnership with Gary Nuttall and Team Blockchain, who will bridge the gap between the law and technical aspects of implementation."

Clyde & Co lawyers have already worked on reviewing smart contract, blockchain and related transactions in a number of sectors, including in respect of a blockchain based fund platform, advising Emirates NBD Bank on the development, implementation, validity and enforceability of a blockchain solution, and working with insurers to establish parametric microinsurance products.

Gary Nuttall is regularly ranked in the top 100 influential players in the blockchain space, advises the London Market Group on related issues and is also a lead member of Team Blockchain, who will provide Clyde Code with access to  an international team of software and IT engineers on a preferred supplier basis.

Find more information on Clyde Code here.