Associate Professor Alex Sims
Alex is an Associate Professor in the Department of Commercial Law and a Reseach Fellow at the UCL Centre for Blockchain Technologies. She teaches a wide range of commercial law subjects. Her primary areas of research and publication are on blockchain technology, in particular, DAOs (decentralised autonomous organisations) the regulation of cryptocurrencies and legal issues surrounding smart contracts. For more background see here. Alex's legacy areas of research and publication are consumer law and intellectual property law (in particular copyright law).
Buying cryptocurrencies: I have lots of people approach me asking for advice on how and where to buy cryptocurrencies and/or what cryptocurrencies to purchase. I am not a financial advisor and I will not give people such advice. Rampant speculation is not good for the blockchain eco-system, for more see this article.
The technical, legal and societal issues surrounding blockchain are fascinating, however, while there are many opportunities there are risks. Blockchain's paradigm shifting nature can be difficult to comprehend, indeed it is an example of Arthur C Clarke's adage, "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic". Blockchain technology may be as disruptive, if not more disruptive, than the Internet and it is vital for businesses, governments and others to understand blockchain technology and its potential uses. For some good resources on blockchain see:
Understand the blockchain in 90 seconds (video, 90 seconds)
IBM and Maersk (video on a cross-border supply solution using blockchain, 3.20 minutes).
What is blockchain? (video by the World Economic Forum, 2.19 minutes)
Blockchain for beginners (short article in Ingenio - the University of Auckland's Alumni Magazine)
Blockchain technology (video by UK Government Office for Science, 5.14 minutes) and see the report "Distributed Ledger Technology: beyond block chain" by the UK's Chief Scientific Adviser.)
Cryptocurrencies and blockchain (excellent podcast explaining the potential for cryptocurrencies and blockchain from the ABC - 29 minutes)
Two reports from Australia's Data 61: "Distributed Ledgers: Scenarios for the Australian economy over the coming decades" and "Risks and Opportunities for Systems using Blockchain and Smart Contracts" are well worth reading, available here
Free short courses on blockchain and cryptocurrencies from UTS available here:
One day short course on blockchain on Friday 23 August 2019, see here.
Report on Regulating Cryptocurrencies in New Zealand for the New Zealand Law Foundation.
Associate Investigator on "Chip of the new block: Blockchain and the building sector" funded by BRANZ (https://www.auckland.ac.nz/en/creative/about-the-faculty/architecture-planning/research/branz-blockchain-project.html)
Collaborator on "ENCRYPT and DECIPHER: Studying the principles, values and impact of encryption in New Zealand" at the University of Waikato (https://www.waikato.ac.nz/law/research/information-law-and-policy-project)
The Future of Money is Data, 23 August 2019, Auckland
Knowledge & Institutions in Complex Systems Workshop, 24-25 August 2019, Wellington.
Identity conference 2019 (Identity as Taonga: Now and in the future) 26-27 August 2019, Wellington
Standards and Emerging Technology, Monday 20 May, Wellington - Part of Tech Week 2019
15th Financial Markets Law Conference, 26 June, Auckland
"Decentralised Autonomous Organisations (DAOs) as an emergent institution" Tuesday 16 April, 12-1pm, University of Auckland Business School
"How blockchain is transforming the supply chain" University of Auckland Business School, 10 April, 7.15 - 9am (with Semanie Cato)
"Technology Trends Speaker Series- Blockchain and Cryptocurrency" with Ben Jordan- Co-Founder and Product Director, Sylo at Unleash Space, University of Auckland, 27 March, 2019.
"Blockchain’s potential to radically transform law" - Victoria University of Wellington (CAGTR & APCA Business Links Seminar) Thursday 28 February 2019.
"DAOs and DACs as emergent business structures" - Technological Innovation in Corporate Financing: Regulatory Challenges for the Fintech Era, 12 November 2018, Monash University, Melbourne
"The practical applications of blockchain transforming business, government and society" Blockworks, 12 October 2018, Auckland ASB Waterfront Theatre
"Blockchain: The Technology that will soon Change Your Life", Tuesday 28 August 2018, Auckland, University of Auckland's Raising the Bar series
"Blockchain is poised to tip everything" Monday 9 July 2018, AMBAAC Workshop, The University of Auckland.
"Using Blockchain to resolve disputes" Friday 6 July 2018, ALTA Conference, Perth
"Blockchain", Thursday 14 June, Forensic Accounting Special Interest Group (CAANZ), Auckland.
"Crowdmark for marking tests and exams" Monday 11 June 2018, Victoria University of Wellington, Frontiers, Opportunities & Challenges: Teaching Law to non-Law Students
"Blockchain and the law" Tuesday 12 June 2018, University of Canterbury
"Blockchain and the Supply Chain", Tuesday 19 June 2018, University of Auckland, Data Analytics for Food Safety
"Blockchain Utopia? A Seminar for Regulators" 31 May 2018, Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV)
"Decentralized Autonomous Organisations (DAOs) and the emerging field of Cryptoeconomics" in Blockchain Utopia? - Panel Conversation about the potential and limits of blockchain and smart contracts, 30 May 2018, Melbourne Law School
"The Legal Impact of Block-chain and Other Disruptive Technologies", Law and Technology Conference, Legal Research Foundation, 8 June 2018, Auckland
"TECHquality: Women at the forefront of Technology" (member of panel) Tuesday 22 May 2018, University of Auckland Business School
PwC Herald Talks - The Future of Money: Bitcoin, blockchain and beyond - (member of panel) 21 March 2018 7:00am Auckland and 22 March 2018 7:00am (Christchurch)
"The Future is Here: What Blockchain Means for You and Your Client (Webinar)" Auckland District Law Society, 28 February, 2018
"Blockchain’s Promise for Privacy", a "Talking About Privacy" seminar, Auckland, 27 February 2018
“Fiat currencies, decentralised crypto and central bank issued cryptocurrencies: an arena for conflict?” 7 December 2017, The New Zealand Centre of International Economic Law, Faculty of Law, Victoria University of Wellington.
"Digital democracy" panel at NetHui, 9 -10 November
"Unfair Contract Terms: What Terms Might Fall Foul" at the legal seminar Contract Drafting: Eliminating Mistakes and Managing Risks on 15 November 2017.
"Blockchain Assets: Bitcoin, Ethereum and Other Cryptocurrencies and Tokens" at the legal seminar "Digital Estate Planning: Logging Off in Peace" on 16 November 2017.
"Assessing how blockchain is disrupting regulation of payments and smart contracts", Blockchain in Healthcare Summit 2017, 24-25 October 2017, Melbourne.
'Blockchain’s transformative power and potential uses' at the North Shore Net Users Group on Thursday 26 October 2017
"Blockchain and IP" Asian Pacific Copyright Association (APCA), 29-31 October 2017, University of Technology Sydney
"Intro to the Potential of Blockchain", Blockchain NZ Meetup, 11 September 2017, Auckland,
Treasury Public Lecture, "The disruptive potential of Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technology", 6 September 2017, Wellington
Workshop - "Blockchain Technologies and their application in the IP Space", Singapore Management University, 31 August 2017, Singapore,
"Blockchain Technology: The Disruptive Power it has on Businesses and the Challenge it's Creating for Lawmakers and Regulators", CBAFF Annual Conference, 17-19 May 2017,
"Patents/Copyright on the Blockchain" - Blockchain NZ Conference, 8-10 May 2017, ANZ Viaduct Events Centre, Auckland,
"Cooking the Books podcast: Why you should be keeping an eye on bitcoin" (8 November 2017) NZ Herald, Cooking the Books podcast.
Ether Review Legal Discussion #1 — Challenges in Blockchain Law (13 May 2017) - Great podcast about the challenges in blockchain law by legal experts in Australia, the United States and NZ - I was present at the beginning of the podcast, but had to leave early.
Recent media (selected)
"What Blockchain Really Means" Build Magazine, 1 December 2019 (with Dermott Mc Meel)
"Is NZ dragging the blockchain" RNZ, 1 August 2019 https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/in-depth/395731/is-nz-dragging-the-blockchain
"New Zealand Women in Blockchain: Part 1 - Alex Sims" BitPrime blog, 14 March 2019
"How to protect yourself as a consumer" Newsroom 14 March 2019
"Cryptopia breach highlights gaps in cybersecurity, and cryptocurrency regulation, experts say" Stuff, 14 February 2019.
"ASB, Greenlea claim blockchain first with meat export deal" NZ Herald, 1 November 2018.
"Ethical dilemmas of a driverless world" Newsroom, 31 October 2018.
"Cryptocurrency and blockchain: thoughts for the future" LexisNexis
"NZ urged to embrace cryptocurrency: new report" interview on RadioNZ on 28 September
Money and its Myths, 4 July 2018, Newsroom
Blockchain for beginners (short article in Ingenio - the University of Auckland's Alumni Magazine)
"Superfad: If bitcoin is a fad, blockchain is the real thing" 17 March 2018, Stuff, https://www.stuff.co.nz/technology/102254036/superfad-if-bitcoin-is-a-fad-blockchain-is-the-real-thing
Why blockchain challenges conventional thinking about intellectual property" 27 February 2018, The Conversation, https://theconversation.com/why-blockchain-challenges-conventional-thinking-about-intellectual-property-91469
"Forget Bitcoin, Blockchain technology is much bigger" 17 December 2017, Stuff, https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/opinion-analysis/99905784/forget-bitcoin-blockchain-technology-is-much-bigger
"Blockchain could save billions", 23 October 2017, Farmers Weekly at page 27 https://issuu.com/farmersweeklynz/docs/farmers_weekly_nz_october_23_2017/1?ff=true&e=30768707/54437190
"Controversial Blockchain system now available in NZ", radio interview, 16 October 2017, Morning Report, Radio NZ http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/morningreport/audio/2018618120/controversial-blockchain-system-now-available-in-nz
"Auckland University Professor: Government must regulate Bitcoin and Ethereum" https://btcmanager.com/auckland-professor-government-must-regulate-bitcoin-ethereum/ (6 September 2017, BTC Manager).
Interview on why the government needs to start regulating cryptocurrencies, (28 August 2017, Interest.co.nz) http://www.interest.co.nz/currencies/89520/auckland-university%C2%A0professor-alex-sims-why-government-needs-get-play-and-start
"Cybercurrency exchange offers more than bitcoin for New Zealand dollars" (11 June 2017, Stuff) http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/93087302/cybercurrency-exchange-offers-more-than-bitcoin-for-new-zealand-dollars
"A robot tax to save human jobs?" (19 April 2017, Newsroom) - https://www.newsroom.co.nz/2017/04/19/19714/a-robot-tax-to-save-human-jobs
"New kid on the supply chain block" (April 2017, FTD Magazine) - http://www.ftdmag.co.nz/top-stories/new-kid-on-the-supply-chain-block-by-nigel-parry
"How smart contracts could radically transform health and safety" (24 February 2017, NBR Special Report on IT/ICT - Information of Everything" https://www.nbr.co.nz/sites/default/files/ICT_1.pdf)
"NZ needs the same copyright exemption as US law allows" (23 February 2017) http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=11805338
"Banks in 'technological arms race'" (8 January 2017) http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11773297
"Australian copyright blueprint praised to halt NZ breaches" (23 December 2017) http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/87821036/australian-copyright-blueprint-praised-to-halt-nz-breaches - talking about the Australian Productivity Commission Inquiry and Report that recommended Australia adopt fair use in copyright law. The Overview and Recommendations of the Report can be found here.
"Blockchain: Regulating a game-changing technology" (20 December 2016) http://www.business.auckland.ac.nz/en/about/news-and-media/news-stories/uabs-monthly-newsletter/uabs-monthly-newsletter-2016/12/blockchain-regulating-a-game-changing-technology.html
"Cryptocurrency in crossfire as surge in dodgy transactions reported to police intel" (19 December 2016) http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/87671747/Cryptocurrency-in-crossfire-as-surge-in-dodgy-transactions-reported-to-police-intel
"Trans-Tasman banking and legal experts focus on blockchain" (30 November 2016) http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/business/319171/trans-tasman-banking-and-legal-experts-focus-on-blockchain
"Auckland University academic leading research project on regulating digital currencies keen to see consumers, not just banks, benefit" (29 November 2016) http://www.interest.co.nz/currencies/84807/auckland-university-academic-leading-research-project-regulating-digital-currencieshttp://www.interest.co.nz/currencies/84807/auckland-university-academic-leading-research-project-regulating-digital-currencies
Regulating revolutionary new digital currencies (6 October 2016) https://www.lawsociety.org.nz/lawtalk/issue-898/regulating-revolutionary-new-digital-currencies
Sports stars may face lawsuits over tattoos (5 September 2016) http://www.nzherald.co.nz/university-of-auckland/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503679&objectid=11703745
Laws to protect consumers aren't working - academic Alexandra Sims (6 September 2016) http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/83949811/laws-to-protect-consumers-from-unfair-contract-terms-arent-working-claims-academic-alexandra-sims
Unfair contracts not limited to energy companies (6 September 2016) http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/ninetonoon/audio/201815005/unfair-contracts-not-limited-to-energy-companies
Copyright, Prince and the TPPA (29 April 2016) http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11630375
Research | Current
Blockchain, including decentralised autonomous organisations (DAOs) and more generally governance, dispute resolution, cryptocurrencies and smart contracts. Previous research includes fair use in copyright law, copyright in tattoos, unfair contract terms and the delivery of goods guarantee under the Consumer Guarantees Act.
Teaching | Current
On Research and Study Leave (Sabbatical)
- COMLAW 304: Business Structures for Enterprises (First Semester)
- COMLAW 101: Law in a Business Environment (Second Semester)
- COMLAW 320: Intellectual Property and Innovation (Second Semester)
- Certificate of University Learning and Teaching - now called Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice (University of Auckland)
- 2017 Unversity of Auckland Business School Distinguished Contribution Award 2017
- 2008 Best Conference Paper Award for the 2007 Australasian Law Teachers' Association Annual Conference
Areas of expertise
- Consumer Law
- Intellectual Property
- Member of OECD's Blockchain Expert Policy Advisory Board (BEPAB)
- Reseach Associate - UCL Centre for Blockchain Technologies (UCL CBT)
- Member of BlockchainNZ Executive Council
- Convenor of the Law and Computers Interest Group for the Australasian Law Academics' Association (ALAA)
- Asian Pacific Copyright Association (APCA) - Committee member
- University of Auckland's Cyber Security Foundry - Executive Committee member
- Member of the New Zealand Centre for Law and Business
- Member of Editorial Committee for the Legal Education Review
- Member of the Editorial Board of the University of Auckland Business Review (UABR)
- Member of InternetNZ
- Member of Legal Research Foundation
- Member of Authors Alliance
Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)
- Sims, A. (2020). Blockchain, Smart Contracts and the Law. New Zealand Law Journal (2), 72-74. Related URL.
- Sims, A. (2019). Blockchain and Decentralised Autonomous Organisations (DAOs): The Evolution of Companies?. New Zealand Universities Law Review, 28, 423-458.
- Sims, A. J., & Kariyawasam, K. (2018). Cryptocurrencies and blockchain. New Zealand Law Journal, 2018 (11), 359-361.
- Lee, J., Waugh, J., & Sims, A. (2018). Cryptocurrency and blockchain: thoughts for the future. Internet Law Bulletin, 21 (6), 101-104. Related URL.
- Sims, A. (2017). Consumer contracts and unfair contract terms. New Zealand Law Journal (2), 46-47.
- Sims, A., & Mara, L. (2016). Unfair online contract terms in New Zealand: Evaluating the effect of regulatory change. Competition & Consumer Law Journal, 24 (2), 128-156.
- Corbett, S., & Sims, A. (2016). Sui generis protection for sporting emblems and words: A triumph of pragmatism over principle. In S. Frankel, D. Gervais (Eds.) The internet and the emerging importance of new forms of intellectual property (pp. 117-138). Alphen aan den Rijn, The Netherlands: Kluwer Law International.
- Sims, A. (2016). Copyright protection of functional objects in New Zealand. Intellectual Property Quarterly, 2016 (4), 297-317.