Crypto Gets Closer to Legal Recognition in Proposed UK Law


A landmark move for UK’s crypto scene unfolds, as the Law Commission launches a consultation on draft legislation specifically recognizing cryptocurrencies as property. This follows their June 2023 report outlining the need for a distinct legal framework for digital assets. This public consultation signals a potential turning point, offering greater clarity and security for crypto holders and fostering future innovation within the industry.

Bill Seeks To Establish Cryptocurrency as Property

The Law Commission of England has made an important step toward recognizing crypto assets as a separate kind of property. Following the publishing of its final report on digital assets in June 2023, it has initiated a consultation on proposed laws intended at legally designating cryptocurrencies as property.

Why is this important? The Law Commission thinks that unambiguous legal recognition of crypto assets as property is critical to allowing people and companies to fully use these digital assets. Furthermore, it assures that courts can appropriately safeguard the property rights that come with them.

Fitting Into Traditional Property Category

“Personal property rights play a crucial role, especially in scenarios like insolvency or asset interference,” according to the Law Commission. “However, due to the unique nature of digital assets compared to physical or rights-based assets, they don’t neatly fit into traditional property categories.”

As part of this endeavor, the Law Commission has requested evidence for a second project involving digital assets and electronic trade papers under private international law. The deadline for comments on the proposed crypto asset legislation is March 22nd, while the private international law project is due May 16th.

Providing Legal Clarity

This law, as well as companion initiatives, are the result of years of Law Commission examination. Their goal is to give more legal clarity and safeguards for cryptocurrency users. They also fit with the UK government’s objective to position London as a worldwide leader in cryptocurrency innovation and investment.

The designation of cryptocurrencies as property would have various consequences for investors and companies operating in the UK: Under UK law, cryptocurrency would be recognized as a type of property, affording investors the same legal rights and protections as conventional assets.

Better Custody and Security

The status of cryptocurrencies as property may also influence their tax treatment. When selling or trading cryptocurrencies, investors may be liable to capital gains tax, just as they would be if they sold stocks or real estate. This clear legal recognition of cryptocurrencies as property may lead to better custody and security measures. This would be especially useful for institutional investors and corporations that want to protect their digital assets.

Classifying cryptocurrencies as property might make blockchain technology more useful for a variety of applications, such as smart contracts and asset tokenization. This might spur innovation and investment in the UK blockchain ecosystem.

Challenges Ahead

While classifying cryptocurrencies as property would bring better clarity and legal certainty, it also poses the following issues and considerations. Ensuring compliance with the new legal framework may be difficult, especially in the case of cross-border transactions and decentralized financial platforms.

It is also critical to strike a balance between the advantages of legislative clarity and the need to safeguard user privacy while also encouraging innovation. Achieving the correct balance would need close coordination among regulators, industry stakeholders, and technical experts. Given the worldwide character of the cryptocurrency industry, international collaboration is required to successfully govern digital assets. The UK’s approach to recognizing cryptocurrency as property may affect legislative developments in other countries.

The proposed legislation and parallel initiatives follow years of review by the Law Commission and seek to provide greater legal clarity and protections for users of crypto assets. If successful, they may also help the UK government achieve its aim of making London a global center for cryptocurrency innovation and investment.

Author: Muyi

Muyi has background in Petroleum Engineering, loves the outdoors and holds some bitcoins.

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