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Locating cryptocurrencies in the Western legal tradition

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Cryptocurrencies and financial assets represented in digital form on a blockchain are a recent development. They are however likely to move into the mainstream in the coming years as traditional systems for making payments and holding financial assets are converted to blockchain systems of technology. This change in the technical form has presented all systems of private law with difficult conceptual problems. Many fundamental legal conceptions such as property, payment, holding and transfer are technologically dependent. They were devised throughout a long tradition of legal thought when the financial world was populated by tangible things, paper documents, and credit networks operating between legal persons. This presentation considers how well traditional legal concepts can adapt to the new blockchain forms of delivery. Legal concepts which were developed in an earlier financial world will either need to evolve to include the new digital forms or else be replaced by different rules that directly describe the legal consequences of these new digital methods of dealing with currency and financial assets.

This talk is part of the Core Seminar in Economic and Social History series.

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