We are pleased to release two in-depth white papers discussing cutting-edge legal and technology issues applicable to smart contracts and self-sovereign identity systems.

In the smart contracts white paper, Dax Hansen, Partner and Chair of the Blockchain and Digital Currency Industry Group, and Carla Reyes, Visiting Assistant Professor of Law at the Stetson University College of Law, define and demystify DLT-based smart contracts with a review of the current academic and industry literature, describe five actual use cases for smart contracts and analyze the novel legal issues surrounding smart contracts. This is the first comprehensive treatment of the full range of legal issues related to smart contract applications – going beyond the narrow discussion of contract law issues that predominate the existing literature.

Hansen and Reyes describe the state of the art of smart contracts in digital asset sales and capital markets, supply chain management, smart government records and smart cities, real estate land registries, and self-sovereign identity systems. The paper consists of four sections:

  • A brief introduction to DLT-based smart contracts;
  • A review of current academic and industry literature on smart contracts;
  • An exploration of the legal issues in emerging use cases of smart contracts; and
  • An initial risk mitigation checklist for businesses developing applications using smart contracts.

Following an overview of the legal risks involved in the use cases of this nascent and quickly-evolving technology, the authors conclude that companies in all industries should determine how this significant technology will impact them, that companies can benefit from the use of this significant technology, and that industry participants can address relevant legal issues with careful planning and collaboration.

In the self-sovereign identity white paper, Joe Cutler, Dax Hansen, and Charlyn Ho discuss the development of self-sovereign identity as a DLT-based technology, the various industry leaders offering DLT-based identity solutions, and the key legal issues self-sovereign identity solutions will face as the technology goes mainstream. The paper addresses:

  • The background and state of digital identity
  • Distributed ledger technology and self-sovereign identity
  • A sampling of companies or foundations working on DLT-based identity solutions
  • Self-sovereign identity and the law

While tracing the evolution of self-sovereign identity, the authors describe the many ways DLT can be leveraged to create applications that allow users to control their digital identity in a way that is both secure and portable across multiple platforms. Entities building out such solutions that are profiled in the white paper include Sovrin, Uport, Civic, R3, and Mooti.

Finally, Hansen, Cutler, and Ho discuss the most pressing legal considerations facing this promising technology, including:

  • Privacy Laws;
  • Anti-Money Laundering Laws;
  • Biometrics Laws;
  • Laws Governing Online Identities and Death;
  • Trust Frameworks and
  • Practical Considerations for Governments Using SSI.

As self-sovereign identity and other DLT-based technologies grow in popularity and adoption, they will have an ever increasing disruptive impact across all industries. The authors conclude that these advances will demand that legal practitioners, lawmakers, and technologists harmonize their approaches with applicable law.

Follow the links below to download the White Papers:

Perkins Coie LLP Legal Aspects of Smart Contracts Applications

Perkins Coie Self-Sovereign Identity and Distributed Ledger Technology_Framing the Legal Issues