Greg Pooler Legal Director
+44 (0) 1727 738993
23rd May 2023 | Greg Pooler | international, dispute resolution,
As technology continues to rapidly advance, the law must play catch up. Greg and Max participated in this panel discussion to offer their perspective on how digital assets such as cryptocurrencies have been received within the legal and regulatory framework of the English jurisdiction.
Greg Pooler, a Legal Director within Sherrards’ commercial disputes team, advises clients in relation to disputes involving digital assets as part of his commercial fraud and asset recovery practice. Greg provided a comprehensive overview of the legal position under English law as to the treatment and classification of digital assets.
Greg observed that: “Like many of the other jurisdictions represented on the panel, there is currently no coherent legal architecture specific to digital assets in the English jurisdiction.” Unless digital assets exhibited the characteristics of financial products that fell within the perimeter of pre-existing financial services regulation (and in practice few digital assets do so), the sector was largely unregulated and investors in digital assets were afforded very limited protection. Notwithstanding these deficiencies from the legislative perspective, the common law has made significant strides in accommodating digital assets within the conceptual framework of English property law, albeit the decisions to date struggle to reconcile the characteristics of certain digital assets with the traditional categories of property that the law currently recognises.
Max Marmor, a member of the Commercial Property team where we see a cross over in this area in terms of real estate investment, reflected on several key cases that have been decided by the English High Court in recent years. These cases have grappled with questions concerning the classification and treatment of digital assets and the legal remedies that are available to litigants seeking to assert their rights over, or entitlement to, such assets. According to Max: “The English High Court has shown itself to be pragmatic and responsive to the evolving crypto industry. Recent decisions suggest England can be the appropriate jurisdiction for claims that often lack centralisation.”
One case Max was keen to highlight to the conference audience in Mauritius and those tuning in online was the seminal decision of the High Court in AA v Persons Unknown  in which the Court for the first time recognised that Bitcoin should be classified as property, entitling the applicant in that case to freezing injunction relief. Greg emphasised the significance of this decision and referred the panel to a recent 500-page Law Commission report on virtual assets containing the radical suggestion that English law should recognise a third category of property called “digital objects”. This would capture the nuanced and idiosyncratic nature of certain types of digital assets that the current property law framework is ill-equipped to deal with.
Benita Elisa, founder of Wakanda 4.0, which organised the Cryptoverse Summit and who moderated the event added: “Hearing from this international panel really helped set the scene for our event we believe that Metaverse platforms have the potential to transform how, when and where companies interact with their customers, as extended reality platforms enable businesses to deliver new experiences and provide information in new ways.
Greg and Max were joined on the panel by other members of the Alliott Global Alliance (alliottglobal.com) led by Ashveen Gopee from Lex Frontier, Mauritius; Diego Nunes from Estudio Nunes & Associados, Argentina; Audra White from Platt Cheema Richmond, USA; Anthony Marrin from H.Y.Leung, Hong Kong; Kenneth Muhangi from KTA Advocates, Uganda and Songul Top from STA Legal, France. Each offered unique insights and expertise on their countries’ varying approaches to the crypto industry.
The recording of the Cryptoverse Summit and the Alliott Global Alliance panel with Sherrards can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdKXP0FvhC0&t=11877s&ab_channel=WakandaNews
Greg speaks 2:52.10 and Max is at 3:14.30.
 AA v Persons Unknown who demanded Bitcoin on 10th and 11th October 2019 and others  EWHC 3556 (Comm)