The Distributed Liability of Distributed Ledgers: Legal Risks of Blockchain

The transformative potential of distributed ledger technology, especially in the financial sector, is attracting enormous interest. Many financial institutions are investing heavily in proof of concept demonstrations and the rollout of pilot applications of DLT technology. Part of the attraction of distributed ledger systems, such as Blockchain, lies in transcending law and regulation. From a technological perspective, DLT is generally seen as offering unbreakable security, immutability and unparalleled transparency, so law and regulation are seen as unnecessary. Yet while the law may be dull and the technology exciting, the impact of the law cannot be simply wished away. With data distributed among many ledgers, legal risk will remain. DLT projects may well be found, by courts, to constitute joint ventures with liability spread across all owners and operators of systems serving as distributed ledgers. Regulators seeking to support appropriate approaches to twenty-first century financial infrastructure must focus on these legal consequences.


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