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Proposed rule would be implemented by statute and would give primacy to parties’ choice of governing law and jurisdiction.

By Stuart Davis, Nell Perks, and Matthew Unsworth

There is at least a tentative consensus in English law that cryptocurrencies and other digital assets are capable of giving rise to property rights.[1] However, there remains considerable uncertainty around which laws should govern proprietary disputes about digital assets and which courts should have jurisdiction over those disputes.

The Financial Markets Law Committee (FMLC) explained the crux of this problem in their initial report on digital assets in 2018.[2] Traditionally, a question as to rights or entitlement to personal property is governed by the law of the place where the property is situated (lex situs).  But this rule is ill-suited to digital assets which, by their nature, are intangible, digitised, and constituted on a decentralised ledger shared across a network of participants in potentially any number of jurisdictions.