On Friday Korea’s Blockchain Law Society (BLS) officially launched as a global think tank and educational group. According to Korea JoongAng Daily, the first meeting saw 210 members including judges, prosecutors, and local private practice lawyers.
“Blockchain technology is a social technology, which means the width and depth of its development will be dependent on how we create the regulatory framework and system,” said Lee Jung-yeop, a presiding judge at the Daejeon District Court and a founder of BLS. “I believe it can fundamentally change the structure of our society and I suggest that we establish a legal think tank so that we can make a contribution.”
Issues to address
The meeting raised several legal issues that need attention. Koo Tae-eon, a managing partner at law firm Tek&Law, expressed concern about Korea’s inclination to over-regulate which could stifle entrepreneurs. He outlined areas that require clarification. For example, the Capital Markets Act regulates financial investment but could be applied to cryptocurrency trading.
Koo proposed a “Blockchain Act” which would apply a special tax on blockchain companies or cryptocurrency trading.
The lawyer also expressed concerns over Korea’s privacy laws which are applied regardless of the sensitivity of the information. He was particularly worried about how this compares to other major economies such as Japan.
There were calls to institutionalize cryptocurrency exchanges. Lee Jung-yeop wanted transparency over methodologies for allowing the listing of coins and tokens on exchanges.
Many coins have been exposed as frauds and its widely known that most exchanges require significant payments to list tokens.
Lee Chan-hee, president of the Seoul Bar Association, said: “We are seeing a number of issues such as fraud, pyramid schemes and illegal fundraising activities. The number of victims is on the rise despite the government crackdown and regulations.”
Members proposed a total of twelve research projects. They plan to list the projects on a blockchain platform, and lead researchers will find team members using the platform.
In addition to research and education, based on the website, BLS also appears to be an introduction service for finding crypto lawyers.
The think tank emphasizes cryptocurrency issues, but also plans to explore issues that affect enterprises. One of the most awkward problems is jurisdiction. How do you define where a contractual breach occurred, and where should you start proceedings?
Other legal initiatives
Regarding cryptocurrencies, the highest profile advocacy group is Coin Center which has a US focus.
For enterprise and business, one of the broadest legal groups is the Accord project which is creating standards for the implementation of legal contracts on a blockchain. Its membership includes many of the worlds largest law firms.
More recently the Agreements Network formed. They’re creating a network dedicated to implementing legal contracts on a blockchain.