It might have been around for over a decade but Bitcoin is still in the news and - as with cryptoassets generally - continues to pose interesting legal questions which the UK courts are having to tackle as disputes arise.
As a non-physical asset, one of the most perplexing questions is whether Bitcoin can be treated as physical property for the purposes of English law. The borderless nature of cryptoasset transfers can also raise questions of jurisdiction.
In a recent case, the Commercial Court was forced to consider these questions as part of the considerations for of determining whether a dispute over a fraudulent Bitcoin transfer could be held England.
The court determined that there was at least a serious issue to be tried that Bitcoin constitutes property for English law purposes, building on previous case law to this point and the UK Jurisdiction Taskforce work on this topic (read more). In relation to jurisdiction and the law applicable to certain claims raised by the claimants, the court essentially took a traditional approach in that it looked at where the Bitcoin was located (for the first time in English case law on cryptoassets).
Whilst this is only an interim decision, we are light on case law relating to crypto and it provides useful guidance, suggesting that the English courts are likely to treat questions of governing law or jurisdiction arising out of claims over cryptoassets in broadly the same way as other forms of property.
Read more in our latest FintechLinks blog post.
Just because the courts are grappling with cryptoassets does not mean that there is any need to “panic and throw the existing toolbox away"