The following Dispute Resolution practice note produced in partnership with Charlotte Hill, Senior Associate of Penningtons Manches Cooper provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:
A cryptoasset, or cryptocurrency, is a digital asset or currency that takes the form of tokens or ‘coins’ that are located on a decentralised, electronic payment system. Such tokens or coins can be used to purchase services or goods, but are often traded in a similar way to commodities.
The transaction relating to the cryptoasset is recorded on a distributed ledger, which removes the need for a third party or central authority to hold the asset on behalf of its owner (such as banks, building societies or governmental bodies).
The distributed and decentralised ledger (distributed ledger technology) is ‘based on cryptographic proof instead of trust’, that is to say that the peer-to-peer distributed ledger is time-stamped to ‘generate computational proof of the chronological order of the transactions’.
While a cryptographic transaction is recorded on a distributed and decentralised ledger, and therefore available to anyone to inspect, the owner will have a ‘private key’ which allows them to access the cryptocurrency and deal with it as they wish. If the ‘private key’ is lost, it cannot be retrieved to allow the user to access to his or her wallet to spend, withdraw or transfer coins, and so the ‘private key’ must be stored in a safe and secure location. Private keys are usually kept in digital wallets, but they
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