Various bodies are in the process of formulating blockchain regulatory frameworks. However, there is no international framework in place for blockchain activities yet. Blockchain activities are presently governed by a patchwork of varying—and possibly conflicting—national and regional regulatory regimes. Any blockchain venture seeking early market share should be aware of the major legal issues invoked by blockchains across jurisdictions.

This workshop discusses some of the primary blockchain law issues that will need to be handled across jurisdictions, sampling primarily from Canada and the U.S with regional touchpoints in the UK/EU, UAE and KSA [driven by where the seminar is based]. The information shared will comprise a general base, to be further developed and refined by lawyers across jurisdictions in respect of any given blockchain venture or operation.

This workshop will provide a practical overview of blockchain law from its three primary sub-groups:

Corporate funding by ICO/ITO/STO
Ongoing blockchain operations


I. Introduction

  • A love-hate story: blockchain and the law

  • Disclaimer

II. Corporate Funding by ICO/ITO/STO 

  • Digital tokens in the context of securities issues, distributions, and registration

  • Persuasive “soft law” released by the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission, and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission

  • The latest statements by the Ontario Securities Commission

  • Local compliance is not the same as global compliance;

  • Secondary market trading issues

  • Sandbox regimes

  • The Global Financial Innovation Network, including regulatory bodies from the UK, UAE, Canada, and the U.S.

  • Practical strategies to work within the rules

  • UAE’s reported intention to permit ICOs as a corporate funding option


NOTERegion specific section. For UK/EU this part will cover the local legal landscape 

III. Ongoing Blockchain Operations

  • Ongoing issues in securities law, and over-the-counter trades

  • Anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing regimes, including the importance of knowing your customer

  • Problems posed by virtual private networks

  • Income tax and tax classification of digital assets

  • Tax on digital tokens as goods or services

  • Contracting in cryptocurrency and the definitions of “money” and “funds”

  • Financial institution issues

  • Fiduciary issues;• payments system issues

  • Monetary/financial instruments

  • IT contracts including: (a) the importance of legal contracts for smart contracts, (b) third party vendor agreements, (c) node agreements, and (d) mining coalition agreements

  • Data privacy and use of a distributed ledger to point to centrally managed cloud storage

  • AI & algorithmic governance in smart contracts;• insurance considerations

  • Corporate veil issues (e.g. regarding operations of a foreign wholly owned subsidiary)

  • Public and private international law;

  • Division of legislative powers and in the context of government blockchain operations;

  • Export controls;

  • Optimistic outlook for blockchain and cryptocurrency regulations in the UAE


NOTERegion specific section. For UK/EU this part will cover the local regulatory landscape 

IV. Enforcement/Litigation 

  • Local and cross-border market manipulation offences;• local and cross-border regulatory litigation

  • Domestic rights when a foreign exchange goes bankrupt

  • Private disputes over tokens in the context of public and private international law

  • Dubai reported to create the world’s first “Court of the Blockchain”

  • + Local case studies based on where the seminar is based

V. Final Thoughts

  • Market opportunity and cross-jurisdictional regulatory risk

  • “Sharding” as a potential response to conflicting rules across jurisdictions



Chetan Phull

Principal Lawyer
Smartblock Law Professional Corporation

Chetan Phull is a lawyer with software development experience. He is the founder of Smartblock Law Professional Corporation, a law firm in Toronto, Canada focused in blockchain, cryptocurrency, IT contracts, and litigation. The firm’s active clients range from start-ups to large public companies for complex engagements. (URL:

Chetan has been published on cryptocurrency issues in the Canadian Bar Association National Magazine, and quoted in the Law Times. He is also a faculty for the Osgoode Certificate in Blockchains, Smart Contracts and the Law, and has taught the law portion of the Certified Blockchain Professional course offered by BlockchainHub and York University.

Chetan was called to the Bars of Ontario, New York State and Massachusetts in 2013. Prior to founding Smartblock Law Professional Corporation, he worked for five years in Toronto as a litigator and corporate counsel for large private corporations and institutional clients including TD Insurance. He also served for one year as a Judicial Law Clerk for the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal (2011-12), where he assisted appellate court judges with numerous precedent-setting decisions.

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