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Sue McLean

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Summary On December 13 2019, in the case of AA v Persons Unknown [2019] EWHC 3556 (Comm), the UK Commercial Court granted an interim proprietary injunction over Bitcoin, thereby confirming its status as property. Background In October 2019, cyber-attackers hacked into the computer system of a Canadian insurance company and installed malware which encrypted those systems, preventing anyone but the hackers from accessing them. The hackers then offered decryption software to the insurance company in…

On 3 January, 2020, Tang Sisi, the Vice-Chair of the Smart City Development Research Centre at China’s State Information Centre (CSIC) announced that a Blockchain Service Network (BSN) will launch for commercial purposes in April 2020. What is the BSN? The BSN is a state-backed national blockchain service infrastructure platform that spans public networks, regions and institutions. It was planned by CSIC and independently developed by China UnionPay, China Mobile and others. The BSN has…

In a letter published in November 2019, Sanjay Dhotre, India’s Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) , stated that the Indian government is developing a National Level Blockchain Framework and is currently preparing an approach paper. The letter arose in response to a number of questions from MP Parvesh Sahib Singh Verma on what steps the government had taken to promote and encourage the use of blockchain technology and whether it had…

A UK Government-backed, industry-led initiative has published an expert legal statement recognising cryptoassets as property and smart contracts as enforceable agreements under English law. The statement is published by the UK Jurisdiction Taskforce (UKJT), a taskforce of the UK’s Lawtech Delivery Panel. The report concludes that: Cryptoassets are, in principle, to be treated as property under English law. They are not disqualified from being property by their distinctive features (intangibility, cryptographic authentication, use of a…

A number of recent developments in Ukraine have demonstrated the country’s focus on promoting a blockchain friendly ecosystem. At a government level, the recently established Ministry of Digital Transformation (MDT) (available in Ukrainian only) is actively promoting a friendly regulatory environment for blockchain/cryptocurrency projects in Ukraine, in both the public and private sectors. To further this aim, the MDT has kicked off various initiatives in order to promote blockchain, including recently hosting a meeting (available…

IOSCO (the International Organization of Securities Commissions)  has recently published a consultation focusing on how platforms which trade crypto-assets are regulated. The global standards setting body considers that promoting innovation must be balanced with appropriate regulatory oversight. For these purposes, IOSCO defines crypto-assets broadly as “a type of private asset that depends primarily on cryptography and DLT or similar technology as part of its perceived or inherent value, and can represent an asset such as…

The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority has published draft guidance for market players in the developing cryptoassets sector (see CP19/3). This follows a report published last autumn by the UK’s Cryptoasset Taskforce (consisting of the FCA, PRA and Treasury) that explores the UK’s approach to cryptoassets and distributed ledger technology. The FCA has been a relatively late mover in producing practical guidance on crypto compared to other regulators internationally, but was it worth the wait? The…

On 9 January 2019, the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) published advice on ICOs and cryptoassets to the European Commission and other EU institutions.  This development is very much part of the international trend in favour of regulating cryptoassets.  The advice identifies gaps and issues with current EU regulation (or, rather, the absence of it).  For those cryptoassets which are caught by financial regulation, ESMA describes the current regime as inadequate, as it was…

Cryptoassets continue to be a hot topic for financial services regulators. On 19 October 2018, it was the turn of the Securities and Markets Stakeholders Group (“SMSG“), which represents various stakeholders’ interests to the European Securities Markets Authority (“ESMA“). The SMSG published a report setting out its advice to ESMA on how to contain the risks of cryptoassets and ICOs.

Our blog reports on blockchain developments around the world and across industries. For those of our readers interested in some blockchain basics, Baker McKenzie has just published “Unhashing Blockchain: Blockchain Explained.”  In it, we provide an overview of blockchain technology, discuss how it is being used and identify the legal issues that will arise (or have already arisen) in connection with this nascent technology.