ONTIER Reaction to Bitcoin Developers’ Contesting Jurisdiction
· ONTIER (on behalf of Tulip Trading Ltd) seeks to recover £3+ billion worth of Bitcoin
· Claim has significant implications for other users and the way Bitcoin operates
London, 25 March 2022:
Litigation law firm ONTIER LLP responds to the judgment handed down by Mrs Justice Falk today. This follows a successful application by 13 of the 16 bitcoin developer defendants to challenge the English court’s jurisdiction in legal proceedings brought by Tulip Trading Limited (TTL), a Seychelles registered company, whose primary beneficial owner is Dr Craig Wright.
Oliver Cain, Partner at ONTIER LLP comments:
“We are disappointed the English Court has granted the various Defendants’ applications and found that TTL has not established a serious issue to be tried on the merits of the claim in relation to whether or not developers owe fiduciary and tortious duties to those who have lost access to Bitcoin held on the networks which they control. However, we note that the Judge did not reject TTL’s factual case. She held that the Defendants’ evidence was “certainly not sufficiently strong to enable me to conclude that TTL’s factual case was no more than fanciful”. She criticised the amount of evidence filed in respect of the facts of the case as “an unhelpful distraction”.
We further note that the Judge found that TTL had the better of the arguments on the jurisdictional gateways and that England was the appropriate forum for the trial of the dispute. In doing so, the Judge upheld TTL’s arguments that it is resident in the jurisdiction and that its Bitcoin is also located here. The Judge also rejected the Defendants’ allegations that there had been material non-disclosure by TTL in its application for permission to serve out.
“Nonetheless, the matter does not rest here. The duties and responsibilities of developers are issues of the highest legal importance in a rapidly developing field that need to be fully aired and determined by an appellate court. As such, Dr Wright on behalf of Tulip Trading will seek leave to appeal today’s judgment.”
The defendants in this unprecedented action are the developers of BTC, BCH, BCH ABC and BSV residing in various jurisdictions across the world including: Netherlands, Switzerland, Kitts and Nevis, France, Japan, numerous different states in the USA, New Zealand and Australia.
ONTIER was originally granted permission to serve all the developers out of the jurisdiction by the Business and Property Courts of the High Court in London, following a 173 page application submission detailing the claim.
Dr Wright is the inventor of Bitcoin who set out his vision for the digital currency in his famous White Paper under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto.
The litigation sought to examine, for the first time, the nature and extent of legal duties conferred upon and owed by developers resulting from the control they exercise over their respective blockchains.
As detailed in the Particulars of Claim, TTL requested that the individual developers enable TTL to regain access to and control of its Bitcoin on the grounds that they, the developers, owe Bitcoin owners both tortious and fiduciary duties under English law as a result of the high level of power and control they hold over their respective blockchains.
In February 2020, Dr Wright’s personal computer was hacked by persons unknown and encrypted private keys to two addresses, which hold substantial quantities of Bitcoin belonging to TTL, were stolen. These assets were, and continue to be, owned by TTL.
ONTIER has an established and growing practice for recovering stolen and hacked Bitcoin. Its Partners, Oliver Cain and Derek Stinson, together with Felicity Potter (Senior Associate) and Nicholas Dawson (Associate), are advising TTL and instructed John Wardell QC, Bobby Friedman and Sri Carmichael of Wilberforce Chambers as Counsel on this matter.
This litigation is the latest in a series of legal claims issued by ONTIER LLP on behalf of Dr Wright and his associated entities to uphold his right to protect not only his lawfully-held digital assets, but also his reputation as the creator of Bitcoin and his associated intellectual property.
The firm is well known for its high-profile Bitcoin related litigation and has a highly regarded dispute resolution team. Its work is almost exclusively international and multi-jurisdictional in nature, focused on complex, high value international litigation, insolvency matters and arbitration in a wide range of financial and industry sectors.
The firm acted in successful English High Court proceedings against Reliantco Investments Ltd, a digital asset and securities exchange, which blocked and seized a substantial amount from a client’s trading account. ONTIER LLP was able to recover the client’s full investment, its unrealised gains and loss of profit (that the client would have earned from intended investments had its funds not been unlawfully withheld).
ONTIER is recognised in the UK Legal 500 for commercial litigation, international arbitration and civil fraud.
The firm has offices in 18 cities in 13 countries, giving a truly international capability.
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In her 26 years at the helm, she has developed a specialty in reputation risk and reputation management particularly in the legal and litigation, education and training, not for profit, and social policy sectors.
Her background is in media and communications roles.
On the political front she worked as a journalist in both the State and Federal Press Galleries, as a Ministerial media advisor in Australia, and also in the White House on the President’s personal staff during the 1996 Presidential Elections.
She has worked as a Director of Communications for a leading global law firm offering advice to the firm and its clients. She later served as the founding CEO of a health and aged care foundation.
Tracey holds a Graduate Diploma in Commercial Broadcasting, a Bachelor of Laws degree, a Master of Public Affairs and was awarded a Winston Churchill Trust Fellowship in 1996.
She is a director of the Association of Independent Schools of NSW and Knox Grammar School, and previously served for ten years on the national board of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust.
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Ianika is alumna of Tilburg University and holds a PhD on Access to Justice in Mass Claims. She was admitted to the Bar in 1997.
Ianika was born and raised in (communist) Bulgaria and emigrated to the Netherlands in 1991, shortly after the fall of the Berlin wall. She was a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at Stanford University in 2012 and has had a soft spot for California eversince. High on Ianika’s Bucket list is to make an absolutely perfect Pavlova…so far all her attempts have failed miserably (no foto’s attached).
Derede McAlpin is a crisis management and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) expert and trusted advisor to CEOs, attorneys, C-suite executives, and Boards of Directors, and public figures.
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Her additional career highlights:
Derede McAlpin provided executive level counsel and direction for the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) and its global board of directors.
Successfully executed the launch of a first-in-class research division for ACC, as well as a broad range of benchmarking and survey products, and data analysis services.
Ms. McAlpin currently chairs LEVICK’s litigation and DEI practice groups. With more than 20 years of communications and legal experience, she represents clients facing high profile crisis and litigation issues, including government investigations, lawsuits, sensitive race issues, corporate scandals, and sexual misconduct allegations, among others.
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A former member of the press, Ms. McAlpin conducts professional development, DEI, and media training workshops for executives and lawyers.
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During her tenure at Howard University, she launched an amicus curiae campaign in support of respondents in Grutter v. Bollinger, a landmark Supreme Court case on affirmative action in student admissions.
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Caroline is fluent in French, English, Spanish, Hebrew and Mandarin, and holds a BA degree in Chinese Studies and a BSc degree in International Relations.
Sarah is a Senior Consultant at the leading London-based Litigation PR and legal sector reputation management agency, Bell Yard Communications.
Sarah has more than twenty years’ experience in professional services communications, spanning media relations, issues management, corporate and crisis communications.
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She holds a degree in French and German from the University of Oxford and a Masters in Photography Arts from the University of Westminster.