Blockchain Bermuda: “the first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers”

This famous phrase was first coined by William Shakespeare, and uttered by Dick the Butcher in Henry VI, Part II.

Hundreds of years later, it seems like a phrase that might just as well be uttered by Blockchain Bermuda,  a non-profit cross-industry think tank, offering “thought leadership”, education and advocacy designed to promote the adoption of distributed ledger technologies and FinTech in Bermuda.

Blockchain Bermuda’s Vision Statement clearly implies that lawyers are, or will soon be, a pretty redundant bunch, with observations such as these:

  • We believe that the lack of contract standardization has held back the evolution of the Commercial Insurance and Reinsurance markets ...”
  • The language in (Re)Insurance contracts is typically archaic and complex but continues to be used because it is court tested and has legal precedence.  In order for the market to evolve it would be hugely beneficial to create modular “self-assembly” contracts.  An immutable distributed ledger could be a trusted place for next generation (Re)Insurance contracts to reside.”

The Royal Gazette has also recently reported on a Blockchain Bermuda and BDA “brainstorming” session, which was conducted with representatives from the Bermuda Monetary Authority and ten major reinsurance companies.

As the Royal Gazette article explains, “Blockchain technology, originally built for crypto-currencies like bitcoin, has enabled the development of “smart contracts” designed to automate business processes. The mechanism streamlines transactions, eradicating duplication, avoiding the need for reconciliation of different industry systems, cutting costs and authorising contracts in real time.

It goes without saying that, in the Brave New World of Blockchain, “smart contracts” in standardized electronic form will be the death of (re)insurance contract wording lawyers.

It is probably not a coincidence, therefore, that there is not a single lawyer on Blockchain Bermuda’s Advisory Board …  and it’s not a surprise, either, given most lawyers’ fondness for “archaic and complex” language and Luddite business practices!

Having said that, there is at least one lawyer in Bermuda who has published a fascinating article on the topic of  Blockchain, and its potential application to “smart contracts”, “smart property”, and “smart trusts” in Bermuda.

And there is also a fairly compelling argument that this technology will be good for the lawyers that can understand and embrace it (assuming that they’re not contract drafting specialists).

As one Canadian litigator and blawger has recently put it, “Blockchain will be lawyer-free by design. Lawyers will focus on what they do best: structure unprecedented human affairs, translate human facts into legal system/machine-readable contracts, and litigate truly controversial cases. Great for lawyers, great for the world.”

 

 

 

 

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