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02 August 2018 at 11:28 BST

Law and tech firms join forces to create contracts blockchain platform

A first cohort signs up for new blockchain-based platform for smart contracts due to launch in October.

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A group of law firms and tech companies have joined forces to develop the Agreements Network, a platform to support the creation, use and sale of smart contracts for lawyers.

Eliminates ‘transactional execution risk’

Law firms BakerHostetler, LegalBono and ErdosIP, joined with technology companies Clause, Crowdcube, LexPredict, Libra, Mattereum, Monax, Rymedi, TransparentNode and Wolfram Blockchain Labs to form the first network cohort. With little to no code required, the platform will assist in the creation of automated payments and billing, signatures and registrations. It also allows for collaborative storage of documents and assets, as opposed to a contract being on a single firm’s network. Robert Craig, cio of BakerHosteltler, told Forbes magazine ‘if launched safely and properly, the Agreements Network could provide a foundational piece of technology for a range of innovative solutions in the legal marketplace.’ Replacing traditional means of exchange, the Agreements Network is creating a shared infrastructure that will eliminates ‘transactional execution risk’ or the inherent liability that two parties must take on when they enter into an agreement. Contracts, documents, information, and assets will be stored collaboratively, across multiple computers, instead of in one location by a single firm or lawyer.

Range of use cases

The network’s website lists a range of use cases for smart contracts, including leasing issues on devices like drones, tracking remuneration and protecting intellectual property rights for digital content creators, and creating a record of incorporation documents to assist the creation of smart contract associated with that entity. The contracts work on the Ethereum blockchain. While smart contracts have been around for some time, the growing interest in blockchain has accelerated development and investment in the technology. The Agreements Network aims to leverage this trend with the downward trend of client demand and lawyer productivity. The network’s white paper states, ‘as decentralized network commerce proliferates, customers globally will require a new set of legal products to manage contract operation and regulatory compliance.’ The paper adds, ‘lawyers who learn how to offer focused high-value work in conjunction with reliable legal products at scale will be able to serve larger numbers of clients while spending fewer resources.’ The network is currently under tested and will launch in October.

 
   
 
 
 

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