New RSE-funded research project will explore digital assets legal landscape

New RSE-funded research project will explore digital assets legal landscape

Digital assets and the legal framework surrounding them will be the focus of a new research project funded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE).

A team from the University of Aberdeen’s Centre for Commercial Law consisting of Dr Burcu Yüksel Ripley, Dr Alisdair MacPherson and Luci Carey, received an RSE Research Workshop grant for a project entitled ‘Digital Assets in Scots Private Law: Innovating for the Future’. 

The year-long project, which starts on 1 December, is being carried out in collaboration with Professor David Fox and Dr Simone Lamont-Black from the University of Edinburgh, Dr Lorna Gillies from Edinburgh Napier University; and Fiona Henderson, partner at international law firm CMS. 

“Digital assets such as Bitcoin, underpinned by distributed ledger or similar technology including blockchain, have grown globally in significance and become increasingly important for individuals and businesses,” said Dr Yüksel Ripley, principal investigator for the project. 

“Their effects are wide-ranging, impacting upon trade, finance, securities, insolvency, succession and even family matters. 

“This paradigm shift has brought a number of challenges in applying traditional legal concepts to digital assets and accommodating these assets under existing legal rules and regimes, particularly given their novel and fast-evolving nature.” 

By focusing on electronic trade documents and cryptoassets, the research team will investigate to what extent digital assets are already accommodated within Scots private law, which areas of law require reform, and how law reform concerning digital assets can be best advanced in Scotland. 

"This project is a timely and exciting opportunity to bring together policy,  industry and academia to examine the purpose and extent of digital assets under Scots law," added Dr Gillies.

As part of the project, three workshops will be held in 2024, as well as a webinar. The first workshop, expected to take place in February, will examine the implications of electronic trade documents law reform for Scotland, focusing on Scottish perspectives on the UK Electronic Trade Documents Act 2023 and industry insights into its application in practice. 

Further sessions will map the legal landscape for cryptoassets in Scotland, focusing on their classification in property law and related issues in succession, family law, secured transactions, insolvency, debt enforcement, trusts and delict; and explore the intra-UK and international dimensions of digital assets for Scotland, focusing on matters relating to private international law and developing international frameworks. 

Anyone interested in receiving updates on the project can join the mailing list here.  

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