Blockchain justice — Canadian Lawyer

Evan Thomas

Jan 11, 2019

Osler associate Evan Thomas tells Canadian Lawyer there has been an increase in cryptocurrency-related disputes in part due to the fact that cryptocurrencies have “more value than they did a couple of years ago.” In his article, author Luis Millan explores how cryptocurrency and blockchain are increasingly becoming the subjects of litigation in Canada. The article examines reasons behind this trend and how this could impact the legal and regulatory landscape. Evan, an associate in Osler’s Litigation Group, explains.

“The reason we are starting to see a lot of disputes involving cryptocurrencies is because even with the recent decline in prices, they have more value than they did a couple of years ago, and so obviously it is now more worthwhile to have a dispute,” Evan tells Canadian Lawyer.

Evan also references a pair of cases emanating from the Supreme Court of British Columbia that highlight the courts’ challenges in trying to craft rulings that meet the new realities of the digital economy, including Copytrack Pte Ltd. v. Wall.

“These cases illustrate that the courts are in the process of figuring out how to apply the existing law to these novel facts,” Evan tells Canadian Lawyer. “We are going to see inconsistencies around the edges between decisions, and that’s not unusual. That is often how the law develops.”  

Evan also discusses the potential legal issues surrounding smart contracts.

“One of the issues that comes up with smart contracts and distributed applications is that no one necessarily puts written terms and conditions around their use,” Evan says. “If there is a dispute, that puts the court in a position of having to imply what those terms are – and that’s a whole world of uncertainty.”

If you subscribe to Canadian Lawyer, read Luis Millan’s article “Blockchain Justice” on pages 62-65 of the January 2019 issue for more information.