Addison Cameron-Huff, Blockchain Lawyer

Thoughts and opinions of a Toronto-based cryptocurrency lawyer who's worked in the industry since 2014.

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Corporate Voting via Blockchain - Major Corporate Investments and Looking Forward

Last week I spoke about blockchain-based corporate voting (and other topics) at the “Blockchain Symposium” held by Gowlings WLG in Toronto. This blog post expands on that discussion and explains why I think corporate voting via blockchain will be reality within the next few years.

Corporate voting is just one aspect of the large constellation of service companies that handles ownership, registration, transfer, settlement, clearing, and other functions of the public securities markets. What's going on in the world of securities management/investor communications?

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Bay St. Banks Embrace Blockchain: Job Ads

Screenshot of TD's ad for blockchain manager position

TD is looking for a manager for their "Enterprise Shared Platform of Blockchain Center of Excellence". The position "reports to the VP, Blockchain CoE to support the business priorities of the Blockchain CoE." The ad was posted a month ago:

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Federal Reserve Paper on Blockchain Technology

The US Federal Reserve published a paper this week on the application of blockchain technology to the payments, clearing and settlement sectors of the US financial system.

The paper is an excellent overview of the current system and how blockchain might change things. Section 2.1 provides explanations of payment processing, securities post-trade processes and the roles of financial intermediaries. From the section on settlement:

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Starting a Blockchain Software Company: 65 Point Legal Checklist

Starting a blockchain software business? Below is a checklist of some of the legal & business issues common to this emerging industry.

1. Code

   ☐ Build off an existing platform like Ethereum or create a new blockchain platform?
      ☐ Generally don't need permission to build but banks are keen on "permissioned" blockchains and integration partners may require agreements
   ☐ Open source or closed source? Generally "blockchain" = open source but there are other models (e.g. R3).
      ☐ A combination of open source and closed source? Which parts?
   ☐ How will the blockchain be used? How will the software be used? Which open source license is most appropriate?
   ☐ Who will own contributions to the code? Will there be a "contributor license agreement"? Assignment?
   ☐ What about supporting assets like images, videos, etc.? Written agreements will help avoid conflicts later and ensure that a departing individual doesn't take their work with them.

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CFA Society FinTech Conference on June 17th, 2016

Note: This post was written by Victoria Barclay and Dennis Bardetsky of the CFA Society Toronto. I've republished it here (with their permission) because the publication this appeared in, The Analyst (September edition), is not available online. I've slightly reformatted the article to better fit this blog. I was one of the panelists who spoke at the conference. The original title was "FinTech Conference - Three market developments poised to disrupt your business".

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One Year Later: Idea to World-Leading Search Engine for Laws

Just over a year ago I met Nachshon Goltz. Fast forward today and together we've built the world's most comprehensive global law search engine and implemented a new model for legal search. We run, a law search engine that makes use of machine translation to make laws written in 25 languages searchable in English.

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How Does Toronto's Fintech Sector Rank Globally?

EY recently released a report for the UK government about how its Fintech sector stacks up against other global financial hubs. Toronto was not on the list of comparable jurisdictions. But if it was, it would probably be in fourth place by region.

Screenshot from EY report titled "UK FinTech on the cutting edge" on pgs 14-15

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Four Years After Law School: How I've Leveraged My Law Degree Outside of Law

I'm a technology lawyer and a legal technology entrepreneur. I was recently asked to contribute to a book about how people are leveraging law degrees outside of law. The author has allowed me to publish my thoughts here and hopefully they'll appear in print at a later date. Below are the three technology products I've developed that wouldn't have happened without a combination of J.D. and programming.

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Ontario Intercity Bus Reform Discussion Paper: Thoughts

Mazda Bongo Van from 1968

Last summer I wrote about why Ontario's bus system is so uncompetitive. That blog post has received a lot of traffic and I've even received a few emails from entrepreneurs wondering how to start a bus company. This summer the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) is discussing reform and has put out a discussion paper. The paper contemplates removing legal barriers to entry/reforming the Ontario Highway Transport Board and poses seven questions. My answers are at the end of this blog post.

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McKinsey Report on Insurance Industry + Blockchain

Cover image from first page of McKinsey report

McKinsey & Company (a prominent consulting firm) has released a report on the application of blockchain technology to the insurance industry.

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The DAO: Status Update

Screenshot of

"The DAO" was an attempt to create a virtual currency investment fund on the Ethereum network. I wrote about it from a legal perspective back in May. In the month following my blog post, The DAO reached over $150 million USD in value and was then hacked.

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Japan, June 2016

I am back in the office after a couple weeks in Japan (mainly Tokyo, Kyoto and Hiroshima). Below are a few of the highlights.

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All About Cheques: Teva & Fintech

Teva Canada Ltd. v. Bank of Montreal, 2016 ONCA 94, contains everything you ever wanted to know about how cheques work and is a case study in financial risk. This is interesting reading for anyone who works with cheque systems or is seeking to replace them (re: Fintech industry). The litigation is focussed on the (federal) Bills of Exchange Act.

The case began with a Teva employee writing cheques to himself for around $5 million. The employee registered Master Business Licenses (MBLs) for names similar to Teva customers (and then a couple imaginary ones).

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This Blog Now Uses SSL

This blog (and the entire domain) now uses SSL courtesy of the Let's Encrypt project.

If you're not using SSL, see if your hosting company offers support for Let's Encrypt (Dreamhost has a great integration). It's free and works just as well as any other SSL cert.

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A Glimpse of a Global Future of Law Practice

A little while ago I had a Skype consultation with an Italian entrepreneur who had a problem with a German software developer. I asked what the problem had to do with Canada and he said nothing. I asked why he wanted to hire me and he said that he'd done extensive research online and thought that I was the best person for the job.

The potential client had a problem and they wanted someone who knew about contracts, law and software to help them out. They didn't think of their problem as an Italian problem or a Swiss problem.*

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Interesting Word Pairs in Global Laws (I'm the CTO) has published a list of the top word pairs found in global laws. The Excel file can be downloaded here.

I've looked through the top 500 words and taken note below of some of the more interesting word pairs.

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Critique of DAO Paper

A "Decentralized autonomous organization ('DAO')" white paper has been published by German blockchain company UG. This white paper is part of a larger conversation that's been going on for a few years in the Bitcoin/blockchain world. The basic idea is to build a software program that runs like a company, but on a decentralized software platform (e.g. Ethereum).'s paper is one of the longer contributions to this effort (31 pages, including code examples).

This blog post details a few thoughts on the proposal, from a lawyer's point of view.

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CSEC Job Postings

Canada's equivalent of the NSA, CSEC, is always on the hunt for new talent. There's a job listing today for a "Telecom Technologist & Network Analyst". One of the job requirements: “Experience in administration of remote network endpoints where there is little to no assistance at the remote end.” I wouldn't expect too much help from the other end when you're doing foreign signals intelligence.

The pay for CSEC jobs is surprisingly good for Ottawa civil service but probably not competitive with the private sector right now. Posted salaries for experienced people range from $70k-$100k. Most private sector jobs for similar roles don't have posted salaries but appear to be about $30k/yr higher.

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Food for Thought from CIGI Roundtable on Blockchain Regulation

Last week I attended a roundtable put on by CIGI in Toronto titled “Regulating Blockchain & Distributed Ledger Technologies: Challenges and Opportunities for Canadian Innovation”. Speakers included key people from industry, government and academia. I've distilled my notes about speakers' thoughts and my own reflections into 18 questions. Please note that the roundtable was conducted under a rule of not crediting speakers - the thoughts below are mostly not my own.

  1. When we talk about regulation, what are we talking about? (Smart contracts, industry standards, technical standards, regulations, acts, common law, etc.?)
  2. What are the benefits of blockchains right now? What will the future benefits be? What might the downsides be?
  3. Who should be trusted? Banks? Bitcoin exchanges? Programmers?
  4. Do parties that require trust also require government-created rules?
  5. Will we still have banks in 30 years? What about other intermediaries?
  6. Who will take a cut of future blockchain transactions? Which intermediaries? Government authorities?
  7. Will government authorities take a cut of transactions directly? (i.e. X% of each transaction goes to the CRA)
  8. Governments have an impulse to regulate. Will new regulations mean giving up the benefits of blockchain or giving up Canada's place in the global market?
  9. What are the implications of "programmable trust"? Will we have a future where government functions are transferred to private interactions (i.e. smart contracts) administered through blockchains?
  10. What role is there for the (Canadian) government to play as a partner rather than a regulator?
  11. Which activities should be governed by criminal law and which by a lighter touch (fines, AMPs, etc.)?
  12. Is a lack of a regulation in the blockchain space a "gap" in the law or an opportunity for entrepreneurs?
  13. Can regulatory "gaps" be filled with common law and economic behaviour rather than government-prescribed rules? Are there any gaps that cannot be filled by private actors or court-created law?
  14. Should blockchain developers be expected to assist government in their traditional roles of law enforcement and taxation?
  15. Are the differences between "public" and "private" blockchains important to regulators?
  16. What are the jurisdictional challenges to a decentralized global economic system enabled by blockchains?
  17. Is there a breaking point in which blockchain benefits (in the form of talented humans making these systems) migrate to less regulated countries?
  18. What can be done to ensure that "good" regulations are made by the federal and provincial governments?

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Effect of Interveners at the Supreme Court of Canada

The presence of interveners doesn't seem to affect an appellant's chance of success at the Supreme Court of Canada.

I took a look at 844 recent Supreme Court of Canada cases that proceeded to the stage in which there was an appellant (as opposed to applicant). There doesn't seem to be any discernible pattern in the data.

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There are hundreds more blog posts to read, going back to 2013:
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