United Kingdom: Blockchain

This country-specific Q&A provides an overview of Blockchain laws and regulations applicable in United Kingdom.

  1. Please provide a high-level overview of the blockchain market in your jurisdiction. In what business or public sectors are you seeing blockchain or other distributed ledger technologies being adopted? What are the key applications of these technologies in your jurisdiction, and what is the state of development of the market?

  2. Have there been any notable success stories or failures of applications of these technologies in your jurisdiction?

  3. Please outline the principal legislation and the regulators most relevant to the use of blockchain technologies in your jurisdiction. In particular, is there any blockchain-specific legislation or are there any blockchain-specific regulatory frameworks in your jurisdiction, either now or envisaged in the short or mid-term?

  4. What is the current attitude of the government and of regulators to the use of blockchain technology in your jurisdiction?

  5. Are there any governmental or regulatory initiatives designed to facilitate or encourage the development and use of blockchain technology (for example, a regulatory sandbox)?

  6. Have there been any recent governmental or regulatory reviews or consultations concerning blockchain technology in your jurisdiction and, if so, what are the key takeaways from these?

  7. Has any official guidance concerning the use of blockchain technology been published in your jurisdiction?

  8. What is the current approach in your jurisdiction to the treatment of cryptocurrencies for the purposes of financial regulation, anti-money laundering and taxation? In particular, are cryptocurrencies characterised as a currency?

  9. Are there any prohibitions on the use or trading of cryptocurrencies in your jurisdiction?

  10. To what extent have initial coin offerings taken place in your jurisdiction and what has been the attitude of relevant authorities to ICOs?

  11. If they are permissible in your jurisdiction, what are the key requirements that an entity would need to comply with when launching an ICO?

  12. Is cryptocurrency trading common in your jurisdiction? And what is the attitude of mainstream financial institutions to cryptocurrency trading in your jurisdiction?

  13. Are there any relevant regulatory restrictions or initiatives concerning tokens and virtual assets other than cryptocurrencies (e.g. trading of tangible property represented by cryptographic tokens)?

  14. Are there any legal or regulatory issues concerning the transfer of title to or the granting of security over tokens and virtual assets?

  15. To what extent are tokens and virtual assets in use in your jurisdiction? Please mention any key initiatives concerning the use of tokens and virtual assets in your jurisdiction.

  16. How are smart contracts characterised within your legal framework? Are there any enforceability issues specific to the operation of smart contracts which do not arise in the case of traditional legal contracts?

  17. To what extent are smart contracts in use in your jurisdiction? Please mention any key initiatives concerning the use of smart contracts in your jurisdiction.

  18. Have there been any governmental or regulatory enforcement actions concerning blockchain in your jurisdiction?

  19. Has there been any judicial consideration of blockchain concepts or smart contracting in your jurisdiction?

  20. Are there any other generally-applicable laws or regulations that may present issues for the use of blockchain technology (such as privacy and data protection law or insolvency law)?

  21. Are there any other key issues concerning blockchain technology in your jurisdiction that legal practitioners should be aware of?