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  • UK Law Commission Consults on Digital Assets and Electronic Trade Documents

    The U.K. Law Commission has launched two consultations, one on digital assets and the other on electronic trade documents. Responses to the consultations can be submitted until July 30, 2021.

    Digital Assets

    The Law Commission has issued a Call for Evidence on digital assets following a request from the government for recommendations for reforms to U.K. laws that will ensure that the laws can accommodate both cryptoassets and other digital assets. The Call for Evidence will be followed by a consultation at the end of 2021 with proposals for law reforms.

    The existing laws of England and Wales do not provide legal certainty as to the legal status of digital assets. Providing certainty would encourage the use of the laws of England and Wales and jurisdiction in digital asset transactions. The Call for Evidence requests feedback about, and evidence of, the ways in which digital assets are being used, treated and dealt with by market participants. It also seeks views on the potential consequences of digital assets being "possessable."

    Electronic trade documents

    This project is further down the line than the digital assets project, and some of the analysis and feedback will be used for the digital assets project. Following an earlier Call for Evidence, the Commission is now consulting on proposed law reforms, which would enable electronic trade documents to be "possessed." The Commission is proposing that such possession would be subject to the electronic document being:
    • one of a certain type of trade document, such as bills of lading; bills of exchange; promissory notes; ship's delivery orders; warehouse receipts; marine insurance policies; cargo insurance certificates; and warehouse receipts;
    • capable of exclusive control in that it is on a system that ensures that only one person (or group) has control of the electronic document at any one time; and
    • fully divested on transfer so that once transfer has taken place, the transferee is no longer able to control the document.

    View the Call for Evidence on digital assets.

    View the consultation on law reforms for electronic trade documents.

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