26th April 2021

Last week, the UK Jurisdiction Taskforce (UKJT), chaired by Sir Geoffrey Vos, Master of the Rolls, published its Digital Dispute Resolution Rules.

The Digital Dispute Resolution Rules aim to provide a dispute resolution procedure for rapid, informal and cost-effective resolution of disputes arising out of novel digital technologies, particularly digital assets, smart contracts, blockchain and fintech.

The proposed rules provide for the appointment of an appropriately experienced arbitrator, the suggestion is that the Society for Computers and Law will be the appointing body, who will have wide discretion as to the appropriate procedure to be adopted: there will, for example, be no automatic right to an oral hearing and the starting point is that a binding decision will be provided within 30 days.

The arbitrator’s proposed powers include the right 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 UKJT has invited comments on the proposed rules, specifically:

• Is there a need for or advantage in a new arbitral process aimed at facilitating the rapid, informal and cost-effective resolution of disputes arising out of novel digital technologies?

• Does the process as described in the draft Rules meet that need?

• And if not, why?

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