Digital Securities: UKJT consults on Legal Statement

August 3, 2022

In November 2018, the UK Jurisdiction Taskforce published its Legal Statement on the Status of Cryptoassets and Smart Contracts. The Legal Statement expressed the view that cryptoassets were property and smart contracts were contracts under English law, and the UKJT says that it has been well received in many jurisdictions.

On 22 April 2021, the UK Jurisdiction Taskforce published its Digital Dispute Resolution Rules to be incorporated into on-chain digital relationships and smart contracts. They allow for arbitral or expert dispute resolution in very short periods, for arbitrators to implement decisions directly on-chain using a private key, and for optional anonymity of the parties.

The UK Jurisdiction Taskforce has now turned its attention to the way in which English law can support the issue and transfer of equity or debt securities on blockchain and DLT systems. It is asking experts and members of the public to provide their input into the questions that the proposed Legal Statement on Digital Securities can most usefully answer. The questions are as follows:

  • Can digital securities be validly issued under English law using a blockchain or DLT-based system?
  • In what legal form(s) are digital securities capable of being issued, in addition to registered form?
  • Can a blockchain or DLT-based system be used as a register of digital securities?
  • Is a blockchain or DLT-based system for digital securities required to comply with the requirements of the Uncertificated Securities Regulations 2001?

The consultation ends on 23 September 2022. Following the consultation, the UKJT will be hosting a public consultation event to discuss the results.

It is intended that a sub-committee of the UKJT (Lawrence Akka QC, David Quest QC, Richard Hay, Matthew Lavy, Sam Goodman and Anne Rose) will prepare the Legal Statement for publication after the results of the consultation have confirmed the questions to be answered, and after the public consultation event.