Second workshop of Digital Assets Project run by Commercial Law Centre at Harris Manchester College

International legal experts involved in this project met on 23rd November 2018 to discuss the issues resulting from the move towards the holding of assets using distributed ledger and blockchain technology. The issues have been divided into three, although there is considerable overlap between them: those relating to the property aspects of digital assets, those relating to the holding of digital assets through custodians and those related to regulation. Each area was discussed in some detail at the workshop, and many issues were identified and their scope refined.

The project has several aspects. 

First, it will assist and facilitate the individual research of its members by the collection and collation of relevant material from around the world. This support role will also be extended to other groups working in the same area, such as the Law Commission for England and Wales, who have a scoping project in relation to smart contracts and digital assets. 

Second, it will use its resources to make material generally available where this is not the case. As part of this, an English translation of the 2015 judgment in the Japanese Mount Gox case is underway, and will be make available once it is completed. 

Third, the issues identified and refined in the workshop will be written up and published in blog posts, so as to move the debate forward, both nationally and internationally. The law relating to the property, custody and regulatory aspects of digital assets is developing in many different jurisdictions, and in different ways. The conflict of laws treatment of issues relating to digital assets is a critical area, as is possible harmonisation of certain aspects of the law. 

Fourth, a conference will be held in the summer of 2019 for members of the project to present their research and to report on developments in jurisdictions around the world.