1. What is the vision of Osborne Clarke?
We continuously strive to help our clients tackle the issues they are facing today, and prepare for the ones that they will face tomorrow. We love working closely with our clients on new deals, products and solutions which will transform their businesses, markets and even sectors. Keeping up with our clients’ businesses and needs requires constant development on how we provide our assistance. We have always been happy to embrace change and the opportunities it creates – because it’s those opportunities which enable us to help our clients succeed.
Additionally, we are always looking to preserve and further enhance the close connection we have to our clients. We have a unique, diverse and approachable culture, which is not just an added extra, it’s fundamental to our success. So we cherish and protect it, we live by our values and reward the behaviours that support them. And our clients value this as much as our people.
2. Would you like to see further intervention on the part of the authorities regarding blockchain markets?
State intervention, even in young innovative markets such as the blockchain market is not a bad thing per se. Intervention by the authorities can boost confidence and reliability of such market and can ensure needed investor protection.
From our point of view, however, the continuing trend of the past years towards a tremendous increase in regulation on such innovative markets without any sandbox regimes is worrying. Every new regulation is justified with the alleged protection of investors, but in any case it comes at the expense of market participants. Innovation thrives on creativity, which needs room to move and therefore should be preserved also in a legal context. Looking at the current development of the regulation landscape there is a specific danger that innovative fields of application of blockchain will be suppressed (in Europe).
Sandbox solutions, for example, are a great way to promote innovation. They allow innovative business models to be initially tested for marketability in an accompanied process with relief from regulatory requirements and in close cooperation with the competent regulatory authorities. The risks for consumers are low because of the limited business due to strict thresholds. While other countries have recognized the potential of sandboxes, Germany rejects sandboxes. In our view, this was a failure to recognize that especially for young start-ups (which usually have the most bold and exciting ideas) and smaller projects (even moderate) regulation is already an obstacle. A licence, the costs associated with reporting obligations and the establishment of a secure IT infrastructure means the end for such, while established companies are more likely to benefit from the confidence boost of regulation.
Luckily, there seems to be a slowly growing awareness among the European legislator that balanced regulation is needed, to not completely lose touch within the international market.
In this sense, we would appreciate if regulators – when assessing Blockchain technology – would more consistently not take the position of the utmost restrictive possible interpretation of applicable laws. Rather, they should keep the potential of blockchain markets in mind and make more (cautious) use of the legal margins most statutory provisions allow for – for instance data protection laws.
3. Where do you see Osborne Clarke and Blockchain technology in the future?
We are constantly working towards further establishing Osborne Clarke as one of the international go-to law firms for digitization and digital transformation. In this regard, we are aiming to intensify our involvement with our clients and not only be an external advisor, but rather an integral and constant “part of the team” in driving transformation in our clients’ businesses.
Against this background, we regard Blockchain as one of the key transformational technologies and drivers of digitization of the (near) future – both in the private and public sector. In particular, we expect Blockchain technology drastically altering the way ownership in (tangible and intangible) assets will be transferred which in turn will inter alia lead to changes in contract negotiations, monetizing opportunities and – if applicable – public fee structures. Further (and as a prerequisite of facilitating the transfer of goods), we regard Blockchain as a key driver of the rise of digital (self-sovereign) identities for natural persons, companies, objects and other assets.
4. What motivates you to be a sponsor at the BLOCKCHANCE conference?
We are not satisfied with just being interested bystanders. We want to immerse ourselves and be part of the Blockchain community, create connections and make friends. Acting as sponsor for one of the premier Blockchain conferences in the world is the perfect way to further introduce Osborne Clarke and the assistance we can provide to the Blockchain community and to gain further insights to the current and future state of the possibilities Blockchain technology provides to our clients and future clients.
Further, we completely share and applaud Fabian’s and his teams vision for the Blockchance in particular highlighting the social and ecological benefits of Blockchain Technology as well as following through on that premise. We are happy and proud to be a part of this heartfelt and genuine event.