Block-chain technology is a transformative technology which is set to affect several sectors of the economy and the legal sector is certainly one of them. Block-chain can have a huge impact in the legal sector in several ways as discussed below:

A. Smart Contracts

Contract generally is a bilateral or multilateral agreement establishing rights and obligations of the parties involved in order to execute an act. Smart contract then is a digital program based on the Block-chain consensus architecture which will self-execute when the terms of the agreement are met and is self–enforcing and tamper-proof due to its decentralized structure. Rather than the traditional contract based on paper, smart contract is based on code. In a smart contract, the terms are inputted in a programming language and when the predefined conditions are met it executes automatically. So with this, two parties can enter into an agreement on their own while eliminating the need for a middleman. It also limits fraud on the part of the parties by preventing them from not carrying out their own obligations.
Some may say that smart contracts will soon replace lawyers; this is likely not to happen in the foreseeable future because smart contracts are not contracts. They are computer protocol that behaves in a set manner by their programing. Lawyers will still be an essential part of the process as the focus will be on writing the right contract rather than dragging each other to court for failing to honour the contractual terms.

B. Protection of Intellectual Property (IP)

In this internet age, intellectual theft is a problem for all types of businesses where contents can be copied with so much ease leading to loss of several intellectual property creations. Block-chain and related distributed ledger technology offer obvious possibilities for intellectual property protection and regulation and as evidence, either at the registry stage or in court. Issues arising as to who is first to create an innovation will easily be identified through the blockhain’s timestamp, this helps to resolve complex and costly legal challenges involved in determining the initial creator of an innovation or idea not registered.

Some companies trade IP assets without always updating ownership status making it hard for well- informed companies to legitimately license the IP of other entities. This leads to a sway from litigation which Block- chain could have prevented through its accurate and up to date ledger if the innovation was secured using the Block-chain technology.

C. Land Title Registration

Keeping an up-to-date and accurate registry is one of the biggest challenges for land governance in some countries. Many countries
do not even have a ledger and even for those who do, property records are typically vulnerable to inconsistencies, as well as issues like tampering, damage, and loss. These uncertainties lead to endless land disputes and several lands locked. Block-chain can help title registration by storing information on the Block-chain ledger, which means that every property transaction is securely encoded which allows for protection and tracking. The authenticity of this information is verified based on whether it has a legitimate connection to other nodes within the network. If it does not, then the record cannot be added.
Further to these mentioned above, several problems associated with land title registration like delay, fraud, error and paper documentation which can be destroyed leaving ownership of thousands of plots of land in dispute, can be eliminated by a land registration system secured under the Block-chain technology.

D. Block-chain Law

Block-chain just like every other aspect of law will become a specialty of its own, having lawyers give advice on Block-chain technology. Some law firms will begin to broaden their area of specialization to include Block-chain technology law giving room for lawyers who has embraced this form of disruptive technology to thrive.
Everything from inheritance through to tax returns can go through on Block-chain. Aside the above mentioned, Block-chain also has the potential to simplify and automate tax compliance and transparency with series of smart contracts firing back and forth to ensure compliance.

This post was written by Ezinne Chimdindu Ogbonna, Esq and is culled up from the latest edition of The PALM, please click here to read the full content.

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