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Landmark Bitcoin judgment: Darragh Connell successful in judgment recognising Bitcoin as property under English law

21 / 1 / 2020

Darragh Connell successfully obtained an interim proprietary injunction in respect of a Bitcoin ransom payment in the case of AA v Persons Unknown who demanded Bitcoin on 10 and 11 October 2019 and others [2019] EWHC 3556 (Comm). The reporting restriction relating to the judgment was lifted at a further hearing on 17 January 2020.

The case itself relates to a cyber attack that occurred in October 2019 during which a ransom payable in Bitcoin was sent to Persons Unknown. Using specialist software, the Claimant traced 96 Bitcoin to a crypto currency account held with the exchange, Bitfinex. A proprietary injunction and ancillary disclosure orders were granted by the Court alongside an anonymity order protecting the identity of the Claimant.

At an interim hearing before Mr Justice Bryan, it was held that a crypto asset such as Bitcoin can constitute property for the purposes of English law. In so finding, the Commercial Court considered that the recent legal statement by the UK Jurisdictional Taskforce on crypto assets and smart contracts represented an accurate statement as to the position of crypto assets under English law. The judgment is likely to have far reaching implications beyond cases involving cyber attacks.

To see the judgment on BAILII, please click here.

Darragh is a founding member of Forum Chambers, a boutique commercial set on Chancery Lane. He is frequently instructed on cases concerning fintech, blockchain and crypto currencies particularly in the context of cyber crime. Prior to joining the Bar, Darragh worked at Goldman Sachs in London.

If would like to instruct Darragh on a case of a similar nature please feel free to get in contact with the clerks at clerks@forumchambers.com or call us on 020 3735 8070.

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