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Crypto-assets are legally equivalent to property, a panel of judges and lawyers has ruled.
The panel, headed by Chancellor of the High Court Sir Geoffrey Vos, said its aim was to provide clarity about the status of cryptocurrencies and their related systems, The Times reports.
Crypto-assets “have all of the indicia of property”, the lawyers said, adding that, “novel or distinctive features possessed by some crypto-assets – intangibility, cryptographic authentication, use of a distributed transaction ledger, decentralisation, rule by consensus – do not disqualify them from being property”.
The panel added that smart contracts, agreements using the blockchain technology that underpins cryptocurrencies and assets, “can be used to create more secure and more efficient ways of implementing – and automating performance of – contracts between parties”.
Sir Geoffrey, who is also head of the High Court’s Chancery Division, which deals with commercial, property and land disputes, said: “Our statement on the legal status of crypto-assets and smart contracts is something that no other jurisdiction has attempted.
“The objective is to provide much-needed market confidence and a degree of legal certainty as regards English common law in an area that is critical to the successful development and use of crypto-assets and smart contracts in the global financial services industry and beyond.”
Confidence in cryptocurrencies has taken a blow following the case of OneCoin, which has been compared to a Ponzi scheme scam.
OneCoin is alleged to have raised more than £4 billion for its founders with earnings from new “investors” being used to pay off anybody who chose to cash out.