Lawyers need to learn quickly to deal with the consequences of the 'ubiquitous availability' of generative artificial intelligence systems such as ChatGPT, the master of the rolls said yesterday. Sir Geoffrey Vos was speaking at the launch of newly updated guidance for lawyers on the regulatory and legal aspects of blockchain and associated crypto technologies. 

The latest edition of Blockchain: Legal and Regulatory Guidance, published by the Law Society, Society for Computers and Law and Tech London Advocates notes the rapid growth in awareness of AI technologies in recent years. Generative AI in particular 'has reached a tipping point in capability', Vos said. 

The updated guidance - the third edition since 2020 - provides lawyers and practitioners advising on blockchain and distributed ledger technologies (DLT) with an understanding of the evolving commercial and technological issues in this area, and how they impact wider areas of litigation and the law. 

It covers a range of key issues for legal practitioners to be aware of when advising on DLT-related matters. The first part focuses on developing technologies, covering the growing types and uses of DLTs and specifically cryptoassets. The second looks at the impact of DLT on the wider landscape and the implications for areas of litigation.

The guidance, published on the day that the Financial Conduct Authority announced new rules for investments in cryptoassets, concludes that the UK has an opportunity to develop an effective and proportionate regulatory regime. 'However, the UK must act quickly to clarify its policy approach and introduce new rules where relevant in order to give the market certainty and facilitate the development of efficient and orderly markets in cryptoassets in the UK.’

Anne Rose, co-lead of London firm Mishcon de Reya’s blockchain group said the updated guidance will provide clarity around the legal implications when using blockchain and similar technologies. 'It is more important than ever that lawyers are aware of developments in emerging technologies, and their potential impacts on the way financial, property and legal services are carried out.'

The guidance is available from the Law Society’s website.