A Year Ago

The Chancellor of the High Court, since 2016, said Sir Geoffrey Vos “I believe that this morning is a watershed for English law and the UK’s jurisdictions.  Our statement on the legal status of crypto assets and smart contracts is something that no other jurisdiction has attempted.”

“The objective, of course, is to provide much-needed market confidence and a degree of legal certainty as regards English common law in an area that is critical to the successful development and use of crypto assets and smart contracts in the global financial services industry and beyond.”

Sir Geoffrey’s speech can be read here. According to the Law Gazette, the Law Tech Delivery Panel concluded that:

  • Cryptoassets, including but not restricted to, virtual currencies, can be treated in principle as property
  • Smart contracts are capable of satisfying the requirements of contracts in English law and are thus enforceable by the courts. Statutory requirements for a signature can be met by techniques such as private key encryption. 
This announcement will surely offer succour to lawyers and advisors to the many companies listed in the UK and public bodies who are currently looking more and more at Blockchain technology and Digital Assets. It will be interesting to see what recommendations that the Law Commission makes in terms of new legislation to further clarify and potentially embrace Smart Contracts and Digital Assets.