Legal and IP News

Thomson Reuters and Consensys’ OpenLaw partner for legal smart contracts

contracts agreements

On the 17th October, media group Thomson Reuters announced a partnership with smart contract firm OpenLaw for a document automation proof of concept (PoC). Thomson Reuters provides compliant legal templates through its Contract Express service, which is now being tested with OpenLaw’s blockchain system.

Launched by Consensys in 2017, OpenLaw uses Ethereum to create and execute legal agreements. Its solutions enable digital signing, tokenization of assets, and the management of on-chain smart contracts. Last year, fellow Consensys firm Chainlink partnered with OpenLaw to integrate oracles into its protocol. As of last week, it counts leading legal services firm Thomson Reuters as a partner.

The companies’ PoC aims to combine Contract Express, powered by knowledge base Practical Law, with OpenLaw’s protocol for integrating smart contracts from standard legal documents. Thanks to the immutability of blockchain, contracts can be reliable and accurate with the ability to action real-time payments and settlements.

Andy Wishart, Global Head of Drafting Tools & Productivity Solutions at Thomson Reuters, said: “This proof of concept demonstrates how users could incorporate blockchain-enabled smart contract provisions into any legal template they create within Contract Express, including the many automated standard documents available from Practical Law.”

Co-founder of OpenLaw, Aaron Wright, stated: “By bringing OpenLaw and Contract Express together in this way, we have demonstrated that smart contract technology can be integrated into the automation tools that lawyers are using today.”

He continued: “This opens up the possibility for lawyers to capitalize on the future benefits of blockchain-enabled legal services, and this proof of concept represents a first step in exploring how blockchain-based smart contracts can be applied to a full commercial transaction.”

As blockchain matures, more firms are adopting it for legal agreements. OpenLaw’s biggest competitors are Clause, which founded standards body Accord, and Monax, Hyperledger Burrow contributor and leading member of the Agreements Network (AN). Clause and Monax are members of each other’s consortiums.

Accord boasts Clifford Chance, Linklaters, and Perkins Coie as participants. Founder Clause recently worked with BakerHostetler, also of the AN, for smart contracts in transportation. Meanwhile, Ping An’s OneConnect has launched its own legal agreement system. This summer, Icertis and Microsoft announced they are working on enterprise-focused legal smart contracts.