Dubai International Financial Centre Publishes New Digital Assets Law

UAE News developments

Dubai International Financial Centre Publishes New Digital Assets Law

The Dubai International Financial Centre has published a new Digital Assets Law.

Following the publication of DIFC Law No. 2/2024, the DIFC has also published amendments to the Contract Law 2004 (DIFC Law No. 6/2004), the Implied Terms in Contracts and Unfair Terms Law 2005 (DIFC Law No. 6/2005), the Law of Damages and Remedies 2005 (DIFC Law No. 7/2005), the Law of Obligations 2005 (DIFC Law No. 5/2005), the Trust Law 2018 (DIFC Law No. 4/2018), the Foundations Law 2018 (DIFC Law No. 3/2018), the Personal Property Law 2005 (DIFC Law No. 9/2005) and the Insolvency Law (DIFC Law No. 1/2019).

The amendments to those pieces of legislation are contained in the DIFC Amendment Law, DIFC Law No. 3/2024.

The Centre had announced a consultation on a proposed Digital Assets Law in October 2023. It ended on 5 November 2023.

The consultation on the proposed legislation and its enactment followed international common law developments and judgments, which have started to provide some clarity on digital assets. However, they have not provided a comprehensive legal framework mapping out the full extent of the legal characteristics of a digital asset and how users and investors within this asset class may interact with digital assets and each other.

DIFC Law No. 2/2024 defines a digital asset as

something that exists as a notional quantity unit manifested by the combination of the active operation of software by a network of participants and network-instantiated data, independently of any particular person and legal system and something that is not capable of duplication and use or consumption of the thing by one person or specific group of persons necessarily prejudices the use or consumption of that thing by one or more other persons.

It is characterised as intangible property and is neither a thing in possession nor a thing in action.

The Law also contains provisions on who will be considered to control a digital asset and how.

In addition, it includes general rules regarding title, transfer of title and the exercise of rights over digital assets in the event of death, incapacity or insolvency.

It includes provisions on the control of a digital asset where there is impairment and provisions on how control of a digital asset can be recovered as well.

There are also miscellaneous provisions on power to make Regulations.

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Tanya Jain