UK Releases Rules to Help Dissolve Disputes Arising From Emerging Tech

This past Thursday, April 22, the UK Jurisdiction Taskforce published a new document entitled “Digital Dispute Resolution Rules” (DDRR). The intention is efficient settling of disputes which arise within the realm of “crypto assets, cryptocurrency, smart contracts, distributed ledger technology, and fintech applications.”

According to the document, the Rules come from the ever growing need within the industry of a distinct set of rules to usher the resolution of disputes. The Jurisdiction Taskforce calls these new rules “groundbreaking” in their capabilities and intentions.

Some of the key abilities of the Rules include “arbitral or expert dispute resolution in very short periods. Arbitrators to implement decisions directly on-chain using a private key. Optional anonymity of the parties.”

The Rules provide the opportunity for disputes within the field to be submitted for mediation under the already existing English Arbitration Act 1996. 

Efficient and anonymous problem solving

Two of the key objectives of the DDRR are efficient dispute resolution and the option for disputing parties to remain anonymous throughout the hearing. 

Therefore, in terms of efficiency, the tribunal must resolve the dispute within a default of 30 days from its appointment, or unless otherwise agreed upon by the parties involved. This window is shorter than normal institutional hearings. In addition, disputes are to be resolved primarily based on written, rather than oral submissions. 

The DDRR allows for those involved to remain anonymous to each other during the dispute resolution process, to be in line with anonymous transactions on the blockchain. In such an instance, the identities of those involved are given only to the panel. 

More red tape for the crypto community

On one hand, these rule give some sort of legal guidelines or pathway to resolution of digital disputes. However, they also give governing bodies more power over independent users and investors in the space. The DDRR read:

“The tribunal shall have the power at any time to operate, modify, sign or cancel any digital asset relevant to the dispute using any digital signature, cryptographic key, password, or other digital access or control mechanism available to it. The tribunal shall also have the power to direct any interested party to do any of those things.” 

The UK recently came out with a series of new bans, regulations, and taxes aimed at those existing within the space of digital assets. These bureaucratic developments prompted some companies such as ByBit, a popular crypto trading platform, to stop conducting business within the UK. 

It is yet to be seen if the rules outlined in the new Digital Dispute Resolution Rules is a step in a crypto-forward direction towards mainstream adoption and integration, or if it is yet another hindrance to those operating in the space.