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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…

Implementation of the EU’s Fifth Money Laundering Directive on 10 January 2020 is now fast approaching. To the Financial Conduct Authority’s long list of responsibilities has been added the role of anti-money laundering (AML) supervisor of UK crypto-asset businesses. With this in mind, the FCA has published a new webpage setting out key information for businesses. This includes the crypto-asset activities likely to fall within scope although these will not be definitely known until HM Treasury publishes…

The UK tax authority, HM Revenue & Customs (“HMRC”), published, on November 1, 2019 guidance for companies and businesses on how tax transactions involving cryptoasset exchange tokens (such as Bitcoin) will be taxed. This covers liability to corporation tax, capital gains tax, employment taxes, VAT and stamp duties. Much will depend on whether or not the activity involving exchange tokens amounts to trading or not. Following are the key points for businesses. Cryptoassets are not…

The UK Jurisdiction Taskforce (“UKJT”) recently published a consultation paper on the status of cryptoassets, DLT, and smart contracts under English private law. The UKJT is one of the six taskforces of the LawTech Delivery Panel created by the Law Society of England and Wales. The LawTech Delivery Panel was set up in October 2018 and is formed of a team of industry experts and leading figures from government and the judiciary, aimed at helping the…

On April 21, 2019, the English High Court ruled that it would have jurisdiction to hear the case of Ramona ANG v Reliantco Investments Ltd, following its determination that speculative investments, in this case Bitcoin futures, are not inherently a business activity. Therefore, the protections afforded to consumers under EU law (the Brussels Regulation (Recast) No 12/5/2012 (the “Regulation”) to bring claims via the courts in their own jurisdictions could apply to individual investors using…

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…

This week HM Revenue & Customs (“HMRC”), the UK’s tax authority, set out its view on how individuals should be taxed when handling cryptoassets which can be used as a method of payment, such as Bitcoin. There are no significant surprises in HMRC’s guidance, which relies on existing principles to determine whether income tax or capital gains tax applies. However, when dealing with cryptoassets, individuals should be aware that they may be subject to additional record keeping obligations and may be required to submit a self assessment tax return in some cases.

Enhanced efficiency, collaboration, transparency and trust are some of the key claims of blockchain technology that are appealing to many industries, including the real estate sector. Land registries around the world (including in Sweden and the Republic of Georgia) are exploring the use of blockchain and smart contracts to enable real estate contracts and property records to be completed and monies distributed in an effective and timely manner. On Monday 1 October, the UK’s HM…

Last month, the UK Law Commission (the “Commission”) launched a consultation paper as part of its latest project to address any uncertainty as to the formalities around the electronic execution of documents. Specifically, the consultation seeks views on the electronic execution of documents where legislation prescribes that a document must be signed or executed as a deed. In England and Wales there is a fair amount of flexibility when it comes to executing documents and…