UK takes step towards crypto legal certainty

The UK Jurisdiction Taskforce of Tech Nation's Lawtech Delivery Panel has today published its legal statement on the status of cryptoassets and smart contracts under English and Welsh law.

The landmark statement sought to address legal uncertainty by recognising cryptoassets as tradable property and smart contracts as enforceable agreements under English law.

Smart contracts can be used to create more secure and more efficient ways of implementing - and automating performance of - contracts between parties. This could revolutionise agreements, from mortgages and medical research to property ownership, as smart contracts automatically execute transactions and remove the need for a middle man.

Not only will this legal statement be beneficial for consumers, but also for investors, with the statement giving certainty to the UK market by providing them with a greater understanding of their legal rights when they trade in cryptoassets.

The legal statement was drafted by Lawrence Akka QC, David Quest QC, Matthew Lavy and Sam Goodman and supported by members of the UK Jurisdiction Taskforce, law firm Linklaters and the respondents to a public consultation.

Chancellor to the High Court Geoffrey Vos, chair of the UK Jurisdiction Taskforce, commented: ‘‘In legal terms, cryptoassets and smart contracts undoubtedly represent the future - I hope that the legal statement will go a long way towards providing much needed market confidence, legal certainty and predictability in areas that are of great importance to the technological and legal communities and to the global financial services industry.’’

Jenifer Swallow, director of the Lawtech Delivery Panel, added: "The worldwide smart contract market is expected to reach $300 million by 2023 and the World Economic Forum predicts 10 per cent of global GDP will be stored on the blockchain by 2027.

"It is great to see the adaptability of our common law system to fast-changing technology, demonstrated in this landmark legal statement from the UKJT; Tech Nation is excited to work with the Lawtech Delivery Panel on leading initiatives such as this, to support business growth, clarity in law and the evolution of new tech."

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