Maurice Crespi

Maurice Crespi


BA LLB (Rhodes)
HDip Company Law (Wits)

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Maurice joined Schindlers Attorneys in October 1997 and became a partner of the firm in December 1998. Maurice is an experienced legal practitioner with a sound knowledge of commercial, property, labour, IP, tax, corporate and fintech law. He is a highly experienced and established corporate litigation attorney with several reported judgments in both the Supreme Court of Appeal and Constitutional Court. Famously, he was the lead attorney in achieving the legalization of marijuana in South Africa.

In 2017, recognizing the impact that exponential technology would have on the world, Maurice began to work on becoming a specialist in fintech, blockchain technology and blockchain law. He, still in 2017, founded Schindlers’ Blockchain Department, it being the first in South Africa.

Maurice immersed himself into various online digital courses, shifted his focus and was determined to understand how future technology and the legal system could work more beneficially and cohesively together.

His ideation process thrived, and he began forming collaborations, with lawyers from Los Angeles and Silicon Valley, world-renowned technologists and academics from Oxford University.

During 2020, the cryptocurrency and crypto sphere kept on gaining momentum worldwide, with technologies like Ethereum, smart contracts and NFTs quickly becoming even more popular and in demand. With more technologies becoming accessible,  Schindlers Innovation (Si) Group was founded by Maurice, to recognise anticipated technology pivots that would be required for industries like law to remain competitive, and recognition that legal practice in its current form (especially within South Africa) will simply not survive the near future.

Maurice formed Virtual Nation Builders, NFT Auditors, Dispute-It, Collab Technologies, Schindlers Forensics and Schintech to address the increasing need for legal advice and auditing in respect of NFTs, Cryptocurrencies, ICOs (Initial Coin Offerings), Smart Contracts (including their creation by his tech-team), the minting of NFTs with their legacy contracts embedded in their metadata, the auditing of real word assets in respect of their legal relationship to crypto assets and smart contract auditing. Dispute-it is aimed at addressing the worlds’ need for an alternative to the present litigation process. It is presently being trialed.

Maurice, being the leading attorney at the forefront of the convergence of tech and law, has created and coined the terms used for certain NFT legal Instruments, including:

NAO – NFT Asset Option

NASTI – NFT Assets Sale Transaction Instrument

PAN – Perpetual Assignment NFT

PARN – Property Assignment of Rights NFT

PIN – Personal Identity NFT

VTN – Value Transfer NFT

FON – Fractional Ownership NFT

PRN – Perpetual Royalty NFT

With exponential technological advancements and the creation of legal foundations, Maurice and his team embraced his most ambitious project yet, to build a Virtual Nation for the Ndebele Kingdom. Maurice’s legal-tech offerings and collaborations virtually grew overnight, and his specialist mixed reality team took their very first steps in the creation of a Metaverse, by creating  the first step in a digital twin of the Ndebele’s Heritage Site, Komjekejeke, with extraordinary photorealism, colour and detail. See Alkabula. Maurice looks forward to building South Africa’s first virtual court in Alkabula.

VNB’s Blockchain team are developing the Cowrie Coin, the Ndebele Cryptocurrency, linked to a real-world regenerative economy which will be launched in the fourth quarter of 2022.

Maurice has also been instructed as lead attorney in the Ndebele Land Revitalisation Project, aimed at utilising blockchain technology to segment millions of hectares of the Ndebele Tribal Trust land into land right NFTs. Unlocking the value in tribal land occupied by South Africa’s previously disadvantaged will address one of the major legacies of apartheid. The terms of the NFTs will be agreed with the major South African Banks, to ensure that they meet the banks’ lending criteria and hopefully in the near future, the land will be more easily tradable than any other land in Africa.

Running parallel to these digital projects, are the formation of public benefit organizations, companies and trusts for the various Ndebele Upliftment Projects. The latter, all requiring legacy legal work, including corporate, intellectual property, local and international tax, trust, escrow arrangements, law on jurisdictions, collective investments schemes, property law and requirements by the FSCA, render the necessary convergence of legal and tech advice obvious. All of these services are provided by Maurice’s team.

Maurice has also advised Black Rock Rhino Conservation in creating the world’s first NFTs of Rhino horns to conserve the Rhino. See the world’s first rhinos-one. Maurice’s team attended to the legal terms in the NFTs required in the metadata, the legal audit of the NFT, the legal work required for the assignment of its intellectual property and the consideration of whether to use a NAO to link the crypto asset to a real-world asset.

Maurice’s team did the same for the world’s first heritage NFT, the O.R Tambo Spy Gun Pen (see Spy Pen) on behalf of Liliesleaf Museum. Maurice was instructed by Liliesleaf Farm Heritage Site, South African Heritage preservation and location where Rivonia Trialists were arrested in July 1963. Maurice’s VNB Mixed Reality team were instructed to attend to the creation of Heritage NFTs that began with the scanning of Liliesleaf artefacts in early August 2021 to sell them to local and international collectors (the NFTs, not the artefacts themselves) to preserve as well as maintain South Africa’s Heritage and history for the South African nation. Scarcity affidavits, necessary corporate resolutions, chain of custody reports, the NFT assignment terms and the NFTs auditing were all attended to by Maurice’s legacy law team.

Maurice has also been tasked with creating the legal framework and creation of Cannabis NFTs, using NAOs as their basis for trade. This will allow for the legal trade of cannabis rights in markets where it remains a crime to deal in cannabis. The NFTs will also allow for logistical certainty in marijuana distribution.

Maurice formed COBRA (Covid Business Rescue Assistance) in 2020, the largest pro-bono initiative in South Africa’s history. He hosted over one hundred webinars for Cobra in 2020. COBRA spawned SAtion, that has been endorsed by Business Unity South Africa (BUSA), as well as the South African Government, as South Africa’s Official Digital Revitalization Strategy. SAtion in partnership with Microsoft has secured free Microsoft-365 licenses and 5 terabytes of storage to South African’s younger than the age of 25. COBRA has assisted over 500 companies, large and small. Sation is currently in the process of merging with centre for the fourth industrial revolution south africa, a CSIR initiative.

Globally, technology firms and legal firms find themselves on the other sides of the professional spectrum. Maurice offers a convergence of both, virtually building ground-breaking solutions.

Some of Maurice’s departments’ solutions include: 

  • Building Decentralised and Autonomous Virtual Layers of Governance
  • Creation and listing of Cryptocurrencies, fungible and non-fungible tokens (NFTs)
  • Creation of Smart Contracts and NFTs for use in a real digital market
  • The listing of NFTs on multiple exchanges
  • The auditing of NFTs (both legal and tech)
  • Creation of Distributed Autonomous Organizations (DAOs)
  • Legal Integration in respect of the Internet of Things (IOT)
  • Creation of Photo Realistic Metaverses with embedded legal systems
  • Creation of Photo Realistic Art NFTs with IP legal terms embedded in their metadata
  • Land reform through Land NFTs
  • Insurance NFTs
  • Forensic AI
  • NFT Property Registries
  • Mixed reality in Law
  • Fractional Ownership NFTs
  • Preemptive Forensic solutions
  • E-discovery
  • Legal Data Management
  • POPIA AI Management solutions
  • Human Resource AI management solutions
  • NFT Asset Options
  • Creating and minting of marketing, promotional and ticketing NFTs in compliance with legislation such as the Communication and Electronic Transaction Act, Consumer Protection Act and Protection of Personal Information Act.
  • NFT Assets Sale Transaction Instruments
  • Asset class NFTs
  • Property Assignment of Right NFTs
  • Personal Identity NFTs
  • Legacy legal and tax advice
  • Litigation support
  • 4IR legal and tech banking solutions

Maurice provides guidance to banks, companies, governments, NGOs and other global pillars of society in respect of the legal and tech gauntlet that is required to become competitive in the fourth industrial revolution.