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Cryptoassets: The Person in Property

Are cryptoassets ‘property’, how should the courts decide and why does it matter? OTC’s commercial team provide a commentary on David Ian Ruscoe and Malcolm Russell Moore v Cryptopia Limited.

The judgment of the High Court of New Zealand in David Ian Ruscoe and Malcolm Russell Moore v Cryptopia Limited (in liquidation) [2020] NZHC 728 is the first fully reasoned judgment in the common law world on how cryptoassets should be characterised. That in itself is significant. However, the court’s judgment is also significant for its discussion and recognition of the profound policy and social implications of cryptoassets and their legal characterisation.

A commentary on the case

In this article Richard Hitchcock QC, Stephen Butler and Chloë Bell consider the importance of the person in the property question.

The human application of the law leaves room for wider values such as justice and fairness which cannot be encapsulated in an algorithm or equation. They argue that in order for existing property and contract law doctrine to be fit for purpose and to provide appropriate answers to legal problems arising from cryptoassets, the person in the relationship cannot be ignored.

To read the full article click here

Find out more

Richard Hitchcock QC‘s commercial practice incorporates all manner of general commercial disputes, in particular those involving shareholders and directors’ duties. He has acknowledged expertise in acting in company disputes incorporating other areas of law, in particular banking, pensions, finance and insolvency.

Stephen Butler acts in a wide variety of commercial claims. Recent and current work includes representing the claimant company in consolidated proceedings against several hundred defendants involving allegations of unlawful collective investment schemes, misrepresentation and conspiracy and working as part of a large counsel team in the multi-million-pound conspiracy claims brought by Robert Tchenguiz in the Commercial Court.

Chloë Bell is regularly instructed in commercial and chancery matters. She has provided advice in a number of cases on the interpretation of contracts and has experience appearing led and as sole counsel in court on commercial matters. Chloë has a particular interest in cryptoassets, smart contracts and the future of commercial law in these areas.

Chloë and Stephen have already published an article on cryptoassets and Chloë has given a number of talks on the subject.

To find out more about any of our commercial barristers, contact David Smith on (+44 (0)20 7427 4905) or Colin Bunyan on +44 (0)20 7427 4886 for a confidential discussion.

Legal Blogs 12 Jun, 2020


Richard Hitchcock KC

Call: 1990 Silk: 2014

Stephen Butler

Call: 2014

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