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UK Jurisdiction Taskforce recognizes cryptoassets as property and smart contracts as enforceable agreements

Mon, 18 Nov 2019, 13:21 pm UTC

The UK Jurisdiction Taskforce (UKJT), one of the six taskforces of the LawTech Delivery Panel (LTDP), has officially recognized cryptoassets as tradeable property and smart contracts as enforceable agreements under English law and Welsh law.

LTDP is an industry-led, government-backed initiative, established to support the transformation of the UK legal sector through tech. It has published its “Legal statement on cryptoassets and smart contracts.”

The purpose of the statement is to address the legal uncertainty surrounding cryptoassets and smart contracts. Sir Geoffrey Vos, chancellor to the High Court and chair of the UKJT, said that this perceived legal uncertainty was the reason for some lack of confidence amongst market participants and investors, prohibiting wider adoption.

“In legal terms, cryptoassets and smart contracts undoubtedly represent the future,” Vos said. “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.”

Previously in May, the UKJT issued its consultation paper on the status of cryptoassets, distributed ledger technology and smart contracts in English private law and received over 140 written responses.

The legal statement was drafted by Lawrence Akka QC, David Quest QC, Matthew Lavy, and Sam Goodman, supported by UKJT members, Linklaters, and the respondents to public consultation.

“The legal statement marks an important milestone for the future of blockchain investment and adoption. With clarity on the legal standing of cryptoassets and smart contracts, businesses - particularly at an enterprise level – can feel more confident in embracing their potential in transforming financial markets and driving efficiencies,” Richard Hay, UK Head of Fintech at Linklaters, said.

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