On 14th September, an international group of legal experts met to launch a project to consider some of the major legal issues arising from the move towards the holding of assets using distributed ledger and blockchain technology. Developments in distributed ledger and blockchain technology have led to the emergence of innovative new asset types, such as crypto-currencies, crypto-securities and other tradable crypto-assets, some of which represent assets in the real world, such as gold. The value of these assets, at the moment, is enormous, and their existence raises many important legal questions, which need to be considered both on a national and international basis. 

The project has two main aims: first, to facilitate and enrich the work that is being done individually by members of the group and, second, to consider specific issues collectively and produce specific outputs. 

The launch workshop considered how to map the legal issues, within a tripartite framework: issues relating to the property aspects of digital assets, those relating to the holding of digital assets through custodians and those related to regulation. Project members have been assigned to three groups to review the issues falling within each category, with a view to determining what issues could usefully be considered by the project given the depth of expertise of its members and their internationality. At the next meeting in November project members will discuss the mapping process, and determine the focus of the project in more detail. This project is undertaken by the Commercial Law Centre, and is generously sponsored by Fusang Vault Ltd. For enquiries about the project, please contact clc@hmc.ox.ac.uk or louise.gullifer@hmc.ox.ac.uk.