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Lex Mundi White Paper Series Offers Crash Course in Blockchain

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Lex Mundi’s firm lawyer network has seen a surge in in-house blockchain interest.

That’s why the group published a blockchain white paper series Tuesday, according to Jenny Karlsson, Lex Mundi’s senior business development manager. The 10-paper series provides an introduction for in-house counsel interested in blockchain implementation or cryptocurrency use in industries such as health care, life sciences, supply chains and finance.

“In-house counsel often contact our member firms because they have questions from their management about the legal challenges and implications of harnessing [blockchain] for the benefit of that commercial business unit and operations. So we came up with the idea of putting together, through our member firms in the U.S., these 10 articles,” Karlsson told Corporate Counsel. “They’re really designed to … introduce in-house counsel and interested stakeholders on the implications of blockchain technology on their particular practice areas or industries.”

The series includes papers with advice for blockchain and cryptocurrency companies.

One paper authored by Jenner & Block partner Jason Bradford offers tips on minimizing litigation risk. Bradford wrote that companies in the industry aren’t exempt from existing law, and should check whether they need to register with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network and obtain state money transmitter licenses. They also shouldn’t taunt regulators.

Companies in any industry can struggle with the decision to accept cryptocurrency payments. Two papers in the series address the volatility and tax concerns raised by cryptocurrency. Cheryl Aaron, senior counsel at Michael Best & Friedrich, noted in her paper that cryptocurrency payments are not insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and that their value may fluctuate more than fiat currencies.

Akerman partner Brian Harris wrote that tax rules around cryptocurrency can also complicate things. The IRS has stated it will treat cryptocurrency as property rather than currency—for now—but still hasn’t issued guidance on Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts reports, or FBARs.

“With the uncertainty in whether reporting is required and the potentially high penalties for willful failure to report, the best practice is to report foreign cryptocurrency accounts on FBARs and Forms 8938,” Harris wrote.

Other papers in the series serve as an introduction to blockchain implementation in individual industries. Karlsson said Lex Mundi plans to publish similar blockchain projects in the future with “the benefit of in-house counsel in mind.”

 

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