New Digital Dispute Resolution Rules

Publication Date01 July 2021
SubjectLitigation, Mediation & Arbitration, Technology, Arbitration & Dispute Resolution, Fin Tech
Law FirmBoyes Turner
AuthorMs Annabel Barons

Following the publication of the Digital Dispute Resolution Rules ('the Rules') in April 2021, disputes arising from novel digital technologies including cryptoassets, cryptocurrancies, fintech applications, smart contracts, blockchain and distributed ledger technology will have a specialised arbitration process which can be used to resolve disputes.

In November 2019 the UK Jurisdiction Taskforce published its 'Legal Statement on the Status of Cryptoassets and Smart Contracts' which expressed the view that cryptoassets were property and smart contracts were contracts under English law. Subsequently, extensive consultations have been underway in order to devise a new set of Rules by which to arbitrate these technological disputes.

The resulting Rules work on the basis that arbitrators with specialised knowledge will enable disputes to be dealt with in a timely and proportionate manner. It is hoped that the reach and clarity of these rules as well as the flexibility they provide in relation to procedure should give confidence to those facing disputes within this sector.

What are the key elements of the rules?

Speed of proceedings - once a claimant has issued a notice of claim, the respondent is required to send an initial response within 3 days. This paves the way for expeditious proceedings and a quick resolution. Moreover, once a tribunal has been appointed, in the absence of other agreement by the parties, it shall use its best endeavours to decide a dispute within 30 days.

Arbitrators - once the time for receipt of initial responses has passed, the appointment body will allocate a tribunal with appropriate technical expertise to the claim.

Costs - the parties must bear the cost of the arbitration. Reasonable arrangements should be made to pay or secure the tribunals fees by the time of their appointment. The arbitrator can decide how to apportion the costs between the parties, including their legal expenses.

Procedure - the tribunal has discretion as to the procedure it adopts as well as the form of the evidence and arguments it receives. One of the aims of the Rules is to provide flexibility to adjust the procedure to suit the parties and the dispute. The tribunal will consult the parties when determining the procedure. No party has the right to an oral hearing and the tribunal has the power to determine the dispute based solely on written submissions if it considers it appropriate to do so.

Decision - In common with most other forms of...

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