Digital Assets Report


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Technology investment and legal changes

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Harneys: Best Offshore Law Firm – Laws in several financial jurisdictions, such as Luxembourg, BVI, Cayman Islands and Cyprus, are constantly changing. To ensure law firms uphold best practice at all times they require a combination of a strong team, robust communication, systems and practices. In addition, crucial investment in technology can help enhance a firm’s service offering further.

“This year we’ve seen more changes than ever before. The pace and ferocity with which new legislation is coming is unlikely to change any time soon,” comments Ian Gobin, joint global head of our Investment Funds and Regulatory at Harneys, “It’s our job to digest these new laws and distil them so that we can advise of their impact to our clients in the most practical of ways. To do this we have a global regulatory team, built of senior partners, professional support lawyers, paralegals, law clerks, research specialists as well as IT support/coders. 

“In some of our jurisdictions we are at the forefront of the drafting and development of new legislation and in others we are scouring for new legislative releases which impact our industry and our clients. The level of investment is huge.”

This year saw Harneys open a new office in Luxembourg and welcoming four new partners and their teams to the firm. “One of the unique selling points of our Luxembourg investment funds team is that they also advise on Cayman Islands and BVI investment funds. Not all clients are familiar with Luxembourg, but many are familiar with and have investment funds in Cayman and BVI. The Luxembourg investment funds team are able to use Cayman and BVI as the reference point for the client when describing the regulatory regime of Luxembourg and this really helps clients,” Gobin notes.

Harneys also values the importance of technology in the way it does business. The firm always aims to use technology and automation, so clients receive advice innovatively, efficiently and cost-effectively. According to Gobin: “We’ve always prided ourselves on being at the forefront of the latest advances in law technology which really has revolutionised our firm and the role of the legal professional.” 

“This isn’t about robots replacing lawyers. It’s about the automation of legal processes and gaining efficiencies. Whether developing innovative solutions for some of the more complex challenges faced by our clients or carrying out more basic tasks on time and on budget, technology and automation are key to future success. We’ve seen first-hand with many of our clients in the digital asset/distributed ledger technology space, just how powerful technology can be in a wide range of industries.”

In fact, Harneys has made key investment in the digital asset digital asset/distributed ledger technology space. Gobin elaborates: “We started to act for new and existing asset managers wishing to establish funds that invest in digital assets and private pre-sales. 2017 and 2018 saw us at the centre of the “Initial Coin Offerings” or “ICOs or “Initial Token Offerings” or “ITOs” boom, before the arrival of the “crypto-winter”, along with many clients establishing tokenised funds.” 

“The “crypto-winter” has since thawed and 2019 has witnessed the arrival of spring and the birth of the “Initial Exchange Offering” or “IEO” with the digitalisation of securities and “Digital Security Offerings” being the latest evolution of this market. This is very much part of our core business and I’m sure it will continue into 2020.” 

Ian Gobin

Partner, Harneys

Ian Gobin is joint global head of Harneys Investment Funds and Regulatory groups. He advises on the legal and regulatory treatment of investment funds, private equity funds and management companies established in the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands. He also advises on structured finance, fund finance, IPOs, digital assets/blockchain technology and digital security offerings.

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