Linklaters assists UK Jurisdiction Taskforce in clarifying legal status of cryptoassets and smart contracts

The UK Jurisdiction Taskforce (UKJT), one of the six taskforces of the LawTech Delivery Panel, an industry-led group that is tasked with supporting the digital transformation of the UK legal services sector, has today published a legal statement on the status of cryptoassets and smart contracts under English and Welsh law.
 
Providing legal certainty on the status of cryptoassets and smart contracts for the first time, the landmark statement recognises the asset class as property and smart contracts as enforceable under English and Welsh law. The influential statement is a critical step in the future application of private law to transactions involving cryptoassets.
 
It was drafted by Lawrence Akka QC, David Quest QC, Matthew Lavy and Sam Goodman, supported by members of the UKJT, Linklaters and the respondents to a public consultation.
 

Michael Voisin, Global Head of Capital Markets at Linklaters, commented: “This is a very welcome and positive development for the industry and provides market participants with a firm legal foundation to deploy distributed ledger technology and smart contracts to drive further innovation and efficiencies in the financial and other markets.”

 

Richard Hay, UK Head of Fintech at Linklaters, commented: “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”

 
Linklaters played a key role in the project, leading the drafting of the consultation paper published in May 2019 and running a public event in June 2019 which sought input from market participants on the principal issues of perceived legal uncertainty relating to these new technologies, as well as providing input on the legal statement itself.
 
Richard Hay represents Linklaters on the UKJT and was a key part of the Linklaters team assisting the taskforce, together with Michael Voisin and Sam Quicke, associate.
 
The firm has consistently held the position of market-leader in advising on the application of new technologies to finance, from the implementation of SWIFT payments to the advent of blockchain and digital currencies.

 

  • A summary of the legal statement can be found here.
  • The full publication is available to download here.
  • The consultation paper is available to download here.