Dr Ryan's area of expertise is commercial equity, in particular the liability of third parties to a breach of trust. Her PhD formulated a new classification for accessorial liability. Her current research explores trust and distrust in digital economies and autonomous systems, including smart contracts enabled by blockchain technology. Dr Ryan designed and coordinates a commercial equity elective that examines directors’ duties, Ponzi schemes and the trust as an alternative to a corporate arrangement. Her teaching research investigates how authentic legal processes can improve law students' problem-solving. In conjunction with the UTS Connected Intelligence Centre, she is piloting the use of discourse analytics software powered by AI to improve law students' legal writing skills and self-assessment. In the Faculty of Law, Dr Ryan facilitates the Allens Neota UTS Law Tech Challenge for Social Justice.
Forthcoming book:Trust and Distrust in Digital Economies (Routledge, 2019)
- Chair of the Standards Australia Blockchain Technical Committee Smart Contracts Working Group
- Member of the International Standards Organisation Blockchain Technical Committee and lead author of the Technical Specification for Smart Contracts
- Deputy chair of the Australian Computer Society's Blockchain Technical Committee
- Founding member of the UTS Blockchain Creative Cluster
Can supervise: YES
- Third party liability in commercial equity
- Fiduciary obligations in apparently trustless relationships and smart contracts
- Trust and distrust in digital economies and autonomous systems
- Disruptive legal technologies, bitcoin and the blockchain
- Commercial Equity
- Disruptive Technologies and the Law
- Technology Law Policy and Ethics
Knight, S, Buckingham Shum, S, Ryan, P, Sándor, Á & Wang, X 2018, 'Designing Academic Writing Analytics for Civil Law Student Self-Assessment', International Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education, vol. 28, no. 1, pp. 1-28.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Research into the teaching and assessment of student writing shows that many students find academic writing a challenge to learn, with legal writing no exception. Improving the availability and quality of timely formative feedback is an important aim. However, the time-consuming nature of assessing writing makes it impractical for instructors to provide rapid, detailed feedback on hundreds of draft texts which might be improved prior to submission. This paper describes the design of a natural language processing (NLP) tool to provide such support. We report progress in the development of a web application called AWA (Academic Writing Analytics), which has been piloted in a Civil Law degree. We describe: the underlying NLP platform and the participatory design process through which the law academic and analytics team tested and refined an existing rhetorical parser for the discipline; the user interface design and evaluation process; and feedback from students, which was broadly positive, but also identifies important issues to address. We discuss how our approach is positioned in relation to concerns regarding automated essay grading, and ways in which AWA might provide more actionable feedback to students. We conclude by considering how this design process addresses the challenge of making explicit to learners and educators the underlying mode of action in analytic devices such as our rhetorical parser, which we term algorithmic accountability.
Ryan, PA 2017, 'Smart Contract Relations in e-Commerce: Legal Implications of Exchanges Conducted on the Blockchain', Technology Innovation Management Review, vol. 7, no. 10, pp. 10-17.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Much of the discussion around blockchain-based smart contracts has focused on
whether or not they operate in the same way as legal contracts. However, it is argued
that most contracts are social rather than legal in nature and are entered into because
the parties trust each other to perform the agreed exchange. Little has been written to
address how the blockchain's trust protocol can enable the kind of social contracting
that characterized the way exchanges were conducted before the Internet. This article
aims to fill that gap by exploring blockchain-based smart contracts primarily as noncontractual
This article describes and critically evaluates a collaborative dispute resolution activity conducted in a mid-degree law subject at an Australian university. Australian law degrees are required to be vocational. Teaching problem-solving to law students is an effective way to impart key professional skills. However, it requires planning and preparation. It is therefore important to reflect on whether the aims of the activity have been achieved. In particular, three ideas about what constitutes good teaching are explored. The first is that good teachers do not simply deliver content – they give their students problems to solve. The second is the expectation employers have that law graduates will readily collaborate with their colleagues. Finally, giving students an opportunity to reflect on what they have learned will enable students to transfer what they have understood and articulated to legal practice. By delineating each of these three teaching aims, it is possible to assess the value and effectiveness of the problem-solving activity. This paper also reflects on the positive impact that is achieved when authentic and ethical legal processes are embedded into student-centred learning.
This article will identify two key distinctions that need to be made in order to understand the consequences of breach of fiduciary duty by solicitors operating under different circumstances. These distinctions are between (i) solicitors acting as a trustee in relation to an express trust and those assisting their clients with commercial transactions; and (ii) breaches of fiduciary duty by solicitors that involve dishonesty and those that do not. Of particular interest is the different approaches taken in English and Australian courts with respect to the question of causation. This article will focus on breach of custodial fiduciary duties where the solicitor acts on behalf of a client. However, it will also touch on the implications for solicitors who are directors of an incorporated legal practice and whose breach is in the course of his or her duties as a director. It will conclude that while a solicitor's obligation to account follows from a breach of trust, the remedial consequences of a breach of fiduciary duty in commercial relationships demand an inquiry into whether the breach was fraudulent.
Some New South Wales civil courts have recently introduced electronic filing and online pre-trial appearances. These innovations have different consequences for different users of the civil justice system. Whatever the ostensible benefit, any change to the way our justice system works must enable the purpose for which it exists: access to justice. For practitioners and self-represented litigants who would otherwise travel long distances to attend court, the time and costs savings could be significant. Of course, this intended outcome depends upon the reliability and usability of the technology, as well as the competence of the users. However, for those without these skills or those who do not have access to computers and/or the internet, this change could impede access to justice. It is too early to evaluate the success of this project, but lessons can be drawn from other jurisdictions. This article will explore potential advantages and disadvantages of these changes for self-represented litigants and legal professionals. It will conclude that as technology is disrupting all aspects of our social and commercial arrangements, it is logical that our courts will need to keep up.
Ryan, P & Lai, T 2018, 'Stanford CodeX', Beyond ICOs – Blockchain as legal tech, Stanford CodeX FutureLaw, Stanford University.
Shibani, A, Knight, S, Buckingham Shum, S & Ryan, P 2017, 'Design and Implementation of a Pedagogic Intervention Using Writing Analytics', Proceedings of the 25th International Conference on Computers in Education, International Conference on Computers in Education, Asia-Pacific Society for Computers in Education, Christchurch, New Zealand.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Academic writing is a key skill required for higher education students, which is often challenging to learn. A promising approach to help students develop this skill is the use of automated tools that provide formative feedback on writing. However, such tools are not widely adopted by students unless useful for their discipline-related writing, and embedded in the curriculum. This recognition motivates an increased emphasis in the field on aligning learning analytics applications with learning design, so that analytics-driven feedback is congruent with the pedagogy and assessment regime. This paper describes the design, implementation, and evaluation of a pedagogic intervention that was developed for law students to make use of an automated Academic Writing Analytics tool (AWA) for improving their academic writing. In exemplifying this pedagogically aligned learning analytic intervention, we describe the development of a learning analytics platform to support the pedagogic design, illustrating its potential through example analyses of data derived from the task.
Ryan, P, Lindsay, D, Governatori, G & Lumsden, A Scholastica 2018, 2018 Global Computation Law and Blockchain Festival Sydney Node Report, Stanford Journal of Blockchain Law & Policy, pp. 101-140, Stanford University.
This Report explores some of the key legal and regulatory challenges facing the development and adoption of blockchain and distributed ledger technologies. Specifically, the use of cryptotokens as currency, assets, or utility have come under scrutiny in Australia.
While blockchain and distributed ledger technologies promise to solve some significant identity, security, trust, and provenance problems created by the internet, at this time there is still much work to be done in order to reassure regulators and users that some of the use cases for this innovative technology may be legitimate purposes and can be understood. Until then, a cautious reticence will continue to prevail in any conversation about bitcoin, smart contracts, or distributed ledgers.
Ryan, PA 2017, 'What's holding up the Blockchain?', The Conversation.
It's not technology or regulation holding back the blockchain - software that stores and transfers value or data across the internet - we just haven't figured out the next big use-case. Two reports released this week by the CSIRO's Data61 not only inject some well-researched gravitas into the conversation, they also provide insight into why some of the major blockchain projects have stalled.
Ryan, PA 2017, 'Australian regulators have finally made a move on initial coin offerings', The Conversation.
The Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) has finally issued guidance to explain how 'initial coin offerings' (ICOs) will be regulated.
Ryan, PA 2016, 'Demystifying the blockchain: a basic user guide', The Conversation.
Companies around the world are exploring blockchain, the technology underpinning digital currency bitcoin. In this Blockchain unleashed series, we investigate the many possible use cases for the blockchain, from the novel to the transformative.
Public seminar for insolvency practitioners on blockchain, Bitcoin and digital assets
Ryan, PA 2016, 'Don't blame Bitcoin for the madness of men', The Conversation.
The technology that drives Bitcoin enables almost riskless storage and transfer of value and data.
Webinar for Transforming Assessment