Blockchain, Cryptoassets, Smart Contracts and DeFi

A first rate service at a sensible price

AML/CTF Registration

We have compiled with 1st Idea Ltd a tool to assist firms navigating MLD5 registration below. You should obtain independent legal advice before taking any action based on it.

Contact us

Get in touch

For further advice please contact us for a consultation.

+44 (0)3330 143 401 [email protected]

“Cryptographical solutions might with great propriety be introduced into academies as the means of giving tone to the most important of the powers of the mind”. Edgar Allan Poe, 1841


We are a market leading blockchain, cryptoasset, smart contracts and DeFi team, being uniquely able to advise DeFi networks, token designers and developers, blockchain platforms, crypto-exchanges, exchanges run using DLT, crypto-custodians, crypto-brokers, crypto-funds, and other participants in the blockchain ecosystem. Our members have provided evidence to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Blockchain, include named contributors to the UKJT statement on the proprietary nature of cryptoassets and have undertaken award winning FinTech work.

Our Philosophy

Often FinTech firms have difficulty with lawyers, from obtaining certainty over fee quotes to ensuring that their lawyer is set up to be able to progress matters as quickly as their businesses move. They need advisors who truly  understand the nature of the client’s business. Often lawyers over-complicate the legal and regulatory framework, without focussing on what is important.

Our team have been there from the start, with members having had experience working on the first successful initial coin offering in the United Kingdom and the first equity issuance settled on-chain. We prefer using fixed fees, to avoid surprises and so that we can focus on providing high quality advice. We have been heavily involved in helping shape the legal and regulatory framework for blockchain and cryptoassets, meaning that we have an intuitive understanding of the legal and regulatory framework in which our clients operate. We provide pragmatic, focussed advice designed to provide concrete solutions for our clients.

The regulatory landscape for new technologies is evolving quickly, and it can be difficult to keep track, so we set out below some resources which may be helpful. Please note, whilst the below links are intended to be helpful, the content is provided by third parties over whom we have no control, and as such we do not and cannot take responsibility for any reliance placed on the below. However, we would of course be happy to discuss any aspects of the below with you.

Classifying Cryptoassets

The starting point for any analysis of the regulatory treatment of a blockchain or cryptoasset model is to consider the fundamental nature of the token on offer. We have been involved in assessing this from the beginning, having published the first ever functional cryptoasset classification in Ledger (a peer reviewed academic journal published by the University of Pittsburgh), see “Developing a Cryptocurrency Assessment Framework: Function over Form”

Regulating cryptoassets, blockchain and DeFi

Whilst the regulatory landscape is complex, our experienced team quickly cut through the noise to focus on the issues that really matter to you. We set out below links to some useful documents for those working in the crypto ecosystem:


Ash Costello and James Burnie, Partners in gunnercooke’s Crypto Team, will be hosting a series of podcasts on our “Crypto Cast” featuring the people and projects fostering diversity in the blockchain and cryptoasset industry.

We are always looking for new and exciting guests to feature on the podcast. If you think that you or someone you know would be an excellent match for our podcast, complete the form below and we’ll be in touch.

You can listen to all Crypto Cast Podcasts here

All About Us

We provide a full-service solution, assisting firms from start-ups and SMEs, to large multinational organisations and regulators. Highlights of work undertaken by team members include:

  • Providing evidence to the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group on Blockchain on how to make the UK a leading blockchain economy.
  • Advised one of the first companies to become FCA authorised in the sandbox
  • Advised on the first successful Initial Coin Offering in the UK.
  • Advised on the first equity issuance settled on the blockchain.
  • Advising three crypto-custodians on various legal and regulatory aspects of their business.
  • Advised a regulator on setting up a sandbox.
  • Advised on setting up of one of the first tokenised gold trading platforms.
  • Advised a range of firms on setting up crypto brokerage and custody platforms, including providing advice on the implications of facilitating different tokens.
  • Providing opinions to banks regarding the acceptability of different firm models.
  • Drafting terms, conditions and policies for new firms.
  • Assisting five firms in navigating through the FCA sandbox.
  • Advising on funds on setting up structures for tokenising fund units.
  • Advising firm with issuing a bond linked to cryptoassets.
  • Advising various leading FinTech companies with implementing cross UK / EU a revolutionary new trading platform which removes the trust requirement from trade settlement; £millions matter.
  • Advised Ozone, a leading Metaverse provider, on the legal and regulatory aspects of setting-up metaverses as a service. Including intellectual property implications, data protection, commercial and requirements.
  • Advised Neor Technologies on the legal and regulatory set-up worth USD $50–100m of a crypto fund using AI and algorithmic trading techniques; it is one of the largest crypto funds of its type, and investors include some of the largest hedge fund brand in the industry.
  • Advised on the set-up for Swapsicle as a new generation DEX, including structural requirements, international aspects, regulatory framework.
  • Advised Attestant on a new staking platform to enable users to act as validators in connection with the move from Ethereum 1 to Ethereum 2.
  • Advised Mattereum on creating the concept of physical NFTs. These are a new form of cryptoasset, which can be used to combat counterfeiting by giving certainty regarding the nature and attributes of physical things.
  • Advised the Mauritius FSC on the legal and regulatory framework for Mauritius, including drafting the secondary legislation applying to corporates seeking to work in the regime.
  • Advised Nettle on a £millions matter the leading ESG tokens, NTTL, running on the Algorand chain, with NTTL being the first of its kind of green token which rewards green purchases with tokens which can then be spent on goods and services; involved in corporate structuring, and legal and regulatory advice in relation to the token and the linked SAFT.
  • Advised Nickel, one of the largest crypto funds in Europe, in relation to a new crypto fund set-up which allowed different fund managers to take part within on new overarching type of structure.
  • Assisted Ziglu with the legal and regulatory aspects of its business, as the client being the only UK firm with both an EMI licence and MLD5 registration.
  • Advised a new NFT community engagement platform, including employment requirements where participants are paid in crypto.
  • Advised on the set up for the Naoris protocol, the leading secure blockchain protocol, and the basis for a range of new blockchain and cryptoasset projects.
  • Advised Martian Premier League as well as other companies on the set up of video games companies utilising NFTs, both in terms of give a greater feeling of ownership to gamers as well as in relation to setting up play-to-earn structures.


“James was a pleasure to work with and always incredibly knowledgeable, direct and honest with his advice. He was brilliantly suited to advise on our novel project – we were tokenising shares through a security token offering. I have since used James’s advice for other projects and I would recommend him highly.”

Aysha Ali, Dream Up Ventures 

“James is one of the advisers we work with who has a full understanding of the technology, but also the regulatory constraints, tax considerations and most importantly, from our perspective, market infrastructure. In the emerging world of digital securities it is incredibly helpful to work with people who understand how these elements interconnect.”

Jim Needham, Head of Strategy at MERJ Exchange

“James Burnie is one of the few lawyers I’ve come across and worked with that’s really switched on when it comes to cryptoassets, DeFi and blockchain.  He has a deep and broad knowledge of these nascent markets and the technology infrastructure it was built on which makes him invaluable given its complexity. His work for Trustology has shown that he is able to think pragmatically and outside the box to help with complex issues, and he provides a superb level of service as our trusted advisor.”

Alex Batlin, Founder and CEO, Trustology

“It has been a breath of fresh air to work with lawyers that can cut through the fog that many people seem blinded by regarding around anything “blockchain” or “crypto” related.”

Jay Goss, 7 Sigma FinTech

“Working with James Burnie on Monolith’s regulatory compliance review was brilliant. He is a smart, competent lawyer that has a deep understanding of cryptocurrencies and blockchain. Over the past 3 years we have worked with a few of the leading law firms in the UK and he really stood out.”

William Ou, Chief Commercial Officer, Monolith

“James Burnie is one of the few lawyers that I know who has extensive knowledge and experience in blockchain technology and crypto assets. This field is new and many lawyers struggle to understand the technology and the technical side of it. To be able to combine the technical knowledge with the a good understanding of the law is very rare. If you are looking for a top notch lawyer with technical knowledge on crypto currency and blockchain James is definitely the person to go to. I would definitely recommend James”

Raja Nbigui, Head of Depositary Services (Director), Standish Management

Key Contacts

Rosie Burbidge


Intellectual Property

James Burnie


Financial Services Regulation & FinTech

Kathryn Dodds

Senior Associate

FinTech with specialism in Web3, Crypto and AI

Gareth Malna


Financial Services & FinTech

Yuliya Prokopyshyn


Blockchain & FinTech

Wolfgang Richter

Partner, Rechtsanwalt, Abogado (Madrid)

Finance, Corporate & Regulatory

Noreen R. Weiss

Chair-US, Managing Partner, New York


News and Insights from our Partners

Go to Reading room >