Proposed rule would be implemented by statute and would give primacy to parties’ choice of governing law and jurisdiction.

By Stuart Davis, Nell Perks, and Matthew Unsworth

There is at least a tentative consensus in English law that cryptocurrencies and other digital assets are capable of giving rise to property rights.[1] However, there remains considerable uncertainty around which laws should govern proprietary disputes about digital assets and which courts should have jurisdiction over those disputes.

The Financial Markets Law Committee (FMLC) explained the crux of this problem in their initial report on digital assets in 2018.[2] Traditionally, a question as to rights or entitlement to personal property is governed by the law of the place where the property is situated (lex situs).  But this rule is ill-suited to digital assets which, by their nature, are intangible, digitised, and constituted on a decentralised ledger shared across a network of participants in potentially any number of jurisdictions.

Professional investors will benefit from increased exposure to cryptoassets via traditional financial instruments, though retail investors’ exposure remains limited.

By Stuart Davis, Gabriel Lakeman, and Ivan Pizeta

In the fast-paced world of cryptocurrency, regulatory clarity is essential for both investors and market participants. In March this year, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) made a significant announcement regarding listing cryptoasset-backed Exchange Traded Notes (cETNs) in the UK. This decision marks an important step towards greater regulatory clarity in the crypto industry and presents new opportunities for professional investors.

The English High Court found that a current risk of unfair trial in Russia justified declining to enforce Russian exclusive jurisdiction clauses.

By Oliver Middleton and Sean Newhouse

The English High Court has cleared the way for major aviation insurance litigation to proceed in England. In an important judgment on jurisdiction, the High Court refused to stay a group of claims based on the alleged total loss of aircraft formerly leased to Russian airlines. The defendants contended that any such

The Serious Fraud Office’s strategy for 2024 to 2029 indicates aspiration to be a more effective agency and to incentivise personnel.

By Nathan Seltzer, Pamela Reddy, Clare Nida, and Annie Birch

On 18 April 2024, the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) published an ambitious, albeit high-level, five-year plan (the Plan), setting out its proposed framework to address the increasingly complex landscape of serious fraud, bribery, and corruption. The Plan indicates Nick Ephgrave’s ambitions as the new director

Motivated by a “visceral reaction” to large-scale economic crime, Nick Ephgrave lays out vision for a bolder, more pragmatic, and more proactive agency.

By Pamela Reddy and Matthew Unsworth

Whistleblowers, dawn raids, and cross-agency collaboration are all top of Nick Ephgrave’s agenda as he settles into his new role as Director of the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO). Taking to the stage for his inaugural speech at the Royal United Services Institute last week,[i] Ephgrave gave a glimpse into his ambitious (if optimistic) plans for the agency under his leadership.

Goods imported into the UK from countries with a lower or no carbon price will face a levy by 2027.

By Paul A. Davies, Michael D. Green, and James Bee

On 18 December 2023, the UK government announced a proposal for a new carbon border adjustment mechanism (UK CBAM). The announcement follows extensive consultation earlier this year on possible measures to mitigate carbon leakage risks and aims to support the UK’s decarbonisation efforts.

The UK has made a number of decarbonisation commitments including reaching net zero by 2050. These commitments to decarbonise can be undermined by “carbon leakage”, in which production of goods and associated emissions move from a jurisdiction with more ambitious climate policies (which add costs to carbon-intensive processes) to another jurisdiction with less ambitious policies, resulting in an overall negative impact on the carbon intensity of the processes/goods themselves. The UK CBAM (or other form of carbon tax) seeks to address this issue by aiming to put a fair price on the carbon emitted during the production of certain carbon-intensive goods entering the UK.

The Private Members Bill, if passed, would establish the UK’s first law mandating business due diligence on human rights and the environment.

By Paul A. DaviesMichael D. Green, and James Bee

On 28 November 2023, Baroness Young of Hornsey (Baroness Young) introduced the Commercial Organisations and Public Authorities Duty (Human Rights and Environment) Bill (the Bill) to the UK House of Lords. The Bill seeks to establish the UK’s first law mandating certain companies to conduct human rights and environmental due diligence, and would also introduce an overarching duty for companies to prevent environmental and human rights abuses within their operations and value chains.

The Bill aims to level the playing field among businesses, provide clarity on legal obligations, and enable a greater level of access to justice. It also aims to align UK law with voluntary international standards, such as the United Nations (UN) Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Guidelines, and the International Labour Organization (ILO) Multinational Enterprises Guidelines.

A recent ruling confirms judicial discretion to stay proceedings and instruct parties to seek non-court-based alternatives to litigation.

By Nell Perks and Duncan Graves

The English Court of Appeal has ruled that the court has the authority to stay proceedings and direct the parties to engage in a “non-court based dispute resolution process”. The court can exercise such authority provided the order does not impair the essence of the claimant’s right to proceed to a judicial hearing and is proportionate to achieving the aim of settling the dispute fairly, quickly, and at reasonable cost.[1]

Consistent with the overriding objective which requires the court to actively manage cases and facilitate alternative dispute resolution (ADR), the ruling clarifies the court’s case management powers and signals a potential move toward court-mandated dispute resolution processes.

PE firms seeking to attract a broader range of bidders to portfolio company sales should assess the changing needs of infra-investors.

By Tom D. Evans, John Guccione, Brendan Moylan, David J. Walker, George Venables, and Catherine Campbell

As the boundaries of what constitutes “infrastructure” assets have blurred in recent years, PE firms are more frequently encountering specialist infrastructure investors in transactions beyond asset classes traditionally viewed as “core” infrastructure, such as utilities and roads. This growing trend is evident in Antin Infrastructure’s successful sale of medical diagnostics business Amedes Group to buyers including OMERS Infrastructure and a consortium of investors, as well as Arcus Infrastructure Partners’ acquisition of crates and pallets business HB Returnable Transport Solutions. With certain infra-investors now branding themselves as “private equity infrastructure” and multiple PE houses seeking or raising infrastructure funds, these crossover deals are likely to attract attention from both PE firms and infrastructure investors for some time.

New legislation introduces further sanctions powers and aims to tackle financial crime by revealing identities of overseas beneficial owners of UK property.

By Stuart Alford QC, Robert Price, Thomas Lane, and Harriet Slater

Following the UK government’s successive sanctions packages, which are the subject of recent Latham & Watkins Client Alerts,[1] the response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been extended to cover wider financial crime measures.

The Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Act 2022 (Act) received royal assent on 15 March 2022, introducing a new register of overseas entities (Register) holding UK property assets, alongside changes to the unexplained wealth order (UWO) and sanctions regimes. Reforms to the role of Companies House are expected to follow in subsequent legislation.