Rt. Hon. Lady Justice Andrews DBE has granted permission for ONTIER LLP client, Tulip Trading Ltd, to appeal the judgment handed down by Mrs Justice Falk of 25 March 2022 denying jurisdiction over a claim for breach of fiduciary and tortious duties. Tulip Trading Ltd, a Seychelles registered company, whose primary beneficial owner is Dr Craig Wright, is seeking to bring proceedings in the English High Court against 16 bitcoin developer defendants, 13 of whom had challenged jurisdiction leading to Mrs Justice Falk’s judgment upholding their challenge.
However Lady Justice Andrews in granting the appeal recognised the importance of the issues in the claim, saying:
“The issue as to whether Developers owe duties of care and/or fiduciary duties to the owners of digital assets and if so, what is the nature and scope of those duties is one of considerable importance and is rightly characterised as a matter of some complexity and difficulty. Given that in addition to its complexity and difficulty the underlying facts will play a significant role in determining that issue, it is arguable with a real prospect of success that it is not susceptible of summary determination in the context of a challenge to the jurisdiction, and therefore that the Judge fell into error in deciding that there was not even a serious issue to be tried and in the approach she adopted.”
Oliver Cain, Partner at ONTIER LLP comments:
“We are grateful that Lady Justice Andrews recognised the wider importance of establishing in law the responsibilities of developers of digital assets to end users. The complex and fact-heavy considerations, that characterise developers’ duties to those who have lost access to their Bitcoin, deserve to be explored and determined at full trial and not to be dismissed through a jurisdiction challenge.
“Individual owners of digital currencies will be grateful that leave to appeal has been granted as the outcome will set the precedent for others to follow, should they lose access to their private wallets. We look forward to successfully presenting our case in full in due course.”
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
The defendants in this unprecedented action are the developers of BTC, BCH, BCH and ABC 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.
Following the jurisdiction hearing, the Bitcoin Association, developers of BSV, has entered into a settlement agreement with Tulip Trading Ltd.
In the Court of Appeal: Lady Justice Andrews DBE.
For further information please contact:
Bell Yard Communications +44 (0)20 7936 2021 BellYard@bell-yard.com
Notes to Editors:
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 seeks 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.
Other litigation involving Dr Craig Wright
There is a series of successful or pending legal claims issued by lawyers across jurisdictions on behalf of Dr Wright and his associated entities, to uphold his right to protect his lawfully-held digital assets, his reputation as the creator of Bitcoin and his associated intellectual property:
· Earlier this year, Dr Wright’s UK lawyers, ONTIER LLP, on behalf of Dr Wright defeated a strike-out attempt by Magnus Granath, following Dr Wright’s English defamation proceedings against Granath. This trial will heard by the High Court in late 2023.
· On 12 September 2022, the District Court of Oslo will hear Granath’s application for a Negative Declaration to determine that his campaign of disparagement of Dr Wright through social media is not defamatory. This is challenged by Dr Wright, who will give evidence in person in Norway during this trial.
· Earlier this month, influential digital currency podcaster, Peter McCormack, was found by the English High Court to have defamed Dr Wright in 14 tweets and 1 YouTube video, in which McCormack decried Dr Wright’s assertion that he invented Bitcoin. This judicial ruling came not long after McCormack withdrew his reliance on a defence of truth to his publications. Aspects of this judgment are under consideration by Dr Wright and his lawyers with a view to launching an appeal.
· In 2021 Dr Wright successfully brought a copyright claim against the anonymous digital currency enthusiast operating under the pseudonym “Cøbra”. Enforcement of this judgment is ongoing.
· ONTIER LLP and Harcus Parker LLP are advising companies owned by Dr Wright in their passing off claims against exchanges Kraken and Coinbase, filed in the High Court earlier this month.
· Dr Wright is also advised by ONTIER on his defence and counter-claim to the Crypto Open Patent Alliance’s (COPA) challenge to Dr Wright’s authorship of the White Paper, which also will likely be heard in 2024.
· In December 2021 Dr Wright successfully defended a claim brought in US by Ira Kleiman, brother of Wright’s late friend Dave Kleiman, who predicated the claim on the fact that Dr Wright is Nakamoto, but that Wright created Bitcoin with the help of Dave Kleiman. The jury rejected that allegation.
ONTIER has an established and growing practice for recovering stolen and hacked Bitcoin. Its partners, Oliver Cain, Derek Stinson, Felicity Potter 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.
London, 12 August 2022