England and Wales Law Commissions Propose Recognizing Crypto as a New Type of Property

Updated by Geraint Price
In Brief
  • The Law Commission published the consultation on reforming laws for the crypto asset class.
  • It suggests creating a new type of property for novel assets like crypto, which could help protect investors.
  • The United Kingdom has been ramping up its regulatory focus, with a stablecoin regulation bill emerging last week.
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The Law Commission of England and Wales put out a consultation paper that proposes creating a new form of property for conferring legal rights to cryptocurrencies et al. The commission believes that this will protect investors.

The Law Commission of England and Wales published a consultation paper on the crypto market, talking about several aspects of the asset class. The paper is focused on reforming laws with respect to certain digital assets as objects of property rights. The Law Commission will accept comments and responses until Nov. 4, 2022.

Primarily, the consultation paper considers private law principles and private property laws for cryptocurrencies and NFTs. It says that digital assets and related technology “could create an internet of property.”

Crypto property rights

Conferring property rights to the asset class helps proper characterization of many modern
and complex legal relationships, play a role in insolvency cases, and for situations concerning the “succession on death, the vesting of property on personal bankruptcy and tracing in cases of fraud, theft or breach of trust.”

The Law Commission believes that these legal rights will help protect investors, which has been a priority for several countries. One way it could help is by making it easier for investors to claim losses in the event of theft or fraud.

The commission is suggesting creating a new category for more such novel inventions as blockchain-based assets. The paper says that this makes room for “certain things do not fall neatly within either category.”

The UK and others speeding up regulations

The region of the United Kingdom has been accelerating its oversight of the crypto market, with a number of developments taking place recently. The new U.K. Treasury minister presented a bill for the regulation of stablecoins, though this will have to be passed in the House of Lords and House of Parliament.

Authorities have also been cracking down on illicit activities. Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) seized NFTs in a $1.8 million fraud case that was the first of its kind. The country’s marketing watchdog also banned Crypto.com ads for misleading information.

G20 nations also feel an urgent need to regulate stablecoins and coordinate cross-border transactions. 2022 is shaping up to be a major year regarding regulation, which so far has largely been good for the crypto market.

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