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QUARTERLY / 2023
Ontier local guide to digital assets 

The legal landscape surrounding digital assets is constantly evolving, making it increasingly difficult to keep up with the latest developments. Ontier's latest resource offers a solution: a comprehensive resource that tracks and summarises the most important quarterly judgments in the world of digital assets. Our aim is to provide fellow professionals with the tools and insights needed to stay ahead of the game, and confidently navigate this exciting area of law. 

Q1

Q1

Two significant judgments delivered during this quarter may pave the way to stronger remedies for owners of digital assets. The Court of Appeal in Tulip Trading Limited v van der Laan and others [2023] EWCA Civ 83 held the question of whether software developers of a given Bitcoin network could be subject to fiduciary and tortious duties to users of the network should proceed to trial. The High Court in Osbourne v Persons Unknown [2023] EWHC 340 (KB) held that there was a “realistically arguable case” that NFTs could be classed as 'property' as a matter of English law, potentially widening the scope of proprietary injunctions to include a new class of digital assets. A notable feature that these judgments share is that they were both delivered in the context of digital asset recovery claims issued in the High Court.

  • Fraud and asset tracing
    Recovered a client’s full investment from a popular exchange, its unrealised gains and loss of profit (that the client would have earned from intended investments had funds not been unlawfully withheld). Advised a high-net-worth client and obtained an injunction over a valuable piece of property located overseas.
  • Lawsuits (dispute resolution/commercial litigation)
    Tulip Trading Ltd v Bitcoin Association for BSV & Others: Advising Tulip Trading Ltd. on a claim for the recovery of $5billion worth bitcoin stolen by unknown hackers and for the blockchain developers to be obliged to assist in the restoration under the claim. Dr Craig Steven Wright v Cobra: Advising Dr. Craig S Wright on his claim against the individual behind the pseudonym “Cøbra”, managing website www.bitcoin.org unlawfully publishing the Bitcoin Whitepaper in breach of intellectual property rights. Dr Craig Steven Wright v Crypto Open Patent Alliance (“COPA”): Advising Dr. Craig S Wright on his defence against claim by COPA the Crypto Open Patent Alliance (“COPA”) challenging Dr Craig S Wright’s intellectual property rights over the Bitcoin Whitepaper. Dr Craig Steven Wright v Magnus Granath: Advising Dr. Craig S. Wright on his defamation claim against Norwegian Bitcoin-influencer Magnus Granath. Dr Craig Steven Wright v Peter McCormack: Advising Dr. Craig S. Wright on his defamation claim against English podcaster and radio speaker Peter McCormack. Dr Craig Steven Wright v Roger Ver: Advising Dr. Craig S. Wright on his defamation claim against Bitcoin investor Roger Ver. Dr Craig Steven Wright v Ethereum World News: Advising Dr. Craig S. Wright on his defamation claim against blockchain media channel Ethereum World News. Ira Kleiman v Dr Craig Steven Wright: Advising Dr. Craig S. Wright on depositions required as part of Ira Kleiman v Craig S. Wright proceedings before Southern District of Florida’s District Court. Dr Craig Steven Wright v Vitalik Buterin: Advised Dr. Craig S. Wright on his defamation claim against computer programmer Vitalik Buterin and Ethereum Foundation. Dr Craig Steven Wright v Adam Back: Advised Dr. Craig S. Wright on his defamation claim against businessman and cryptographer Adam Back.
  • Frozen accounts
    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.
  • Corporate, equity and regulation
    The Tulip Trust: Advising Dr. Craig S. Wright on restructuring of The Tulip Trust. Fabriik Alpha Ltd: Advising Fabriik Alpha Ltd. and the Bayesian Group on various corporate and commercial matters. SATEC S.A. and Netflix: Advising media company SATEC on its multi-million Euro contract with Netflix. Floward UK Ltd: advising Floward UK Ltd, a major online flower delivery company, on a $20m worth fund raise. Further advised on the multi-million-pound investment into Floward UK Ltd by Faith Capital, a venture capital and private equity investment firm for which 500 Startups Ltd was a major investor. (See article: How online flower platform Floward built a $30 million annual business in 3 years) Mahou S.A.:Advised Spanish company Mahou S.A. on a distribution agreement in the UK with famous pubs and restaurants franchiser Fullers, Smith & Turner Plc. Virgin Green Fund: Advised Richard Branson on his disclosure requirements under the DTR with regards to a significant investment in a cleantech company located in the Caribbean. Farfetch.com Limited: Advised the Advent funded Portuguese/Brazilian online retailer on their share option scheme. Bertelsmann A.G.: Advised on the international reorganisation of the German media giant. Sotheby's: Advised Sotheby's International on the sale of its Mayfair based estate agency to Countrywide Plc. Tokenized Ltd: Advised Smart Contracts and Vanilla IP and nChain on a multi-million-pound investment into Tokenized.com, a company designing a system for tokenisation of digital assets on the bitcoin blockchain. Vestas Wind Systems A/S: Advised Vestas, a listed Danish wind turbine company, on multi-million pound installations in Jordan, Korea and Europe. Carlos Slim: Advised Mexican property magnate Carlos Slim on corporate debt finance matters including company securitisation. Snapbook General Trading Company LLC: Advised on the multi-million-pound investment into Snapbook.com and the Snapbook App by Faith Capital, a venture capital investment firm. Intelligent Data Technologies Limited and Toshiba: Advised Intelligent Data Technologies Limited on the multi-million-pound debt and equity financing and purchase of the artificial intelligence software business from Toshiba Information Systems (UK) Limited. Sainsbury's Bank Plc: Advised Sainsbury's Bank Plc on their joint venture agreement with HBOS. Caxia Bank: Advised Caxia Bank on loan agreements, data protection matters and FCA regulation.
  • Data protection
    Hyperloop Solutions Ltd: Advising Hyperloop on various Information Technology (“IT”) service activities. Telefónica S.A.:Advised Spanish company Telefónica on a number of data protection issues in the UK, including data breaches affecting thousands of customers. 02 Insure: Implemented the GDPR compliance program for 02 Insure, an arm of Telefonica SA and completing major data mapping exercises. Obica: Implementing a GDPR compliance program for Obica restaurants, a multinational restaurant chain. Google, Bing and Yahoo: Submitted Right to Be Forgotten requests to Google, Bing and Yahoo. Challenged Right to Be Forgotten submissions with the Information Commissioners Office.
  • Financial services and fintech
    Advised a major payment services company on EU financial services regulations. Advised Telefonica Insurance on FSMA regulation in connection with their 1.5m mobile insurance customers. Advised an artificial intelligence based hedge fund on their FSA authorisation.
  • Payment services
    Advised a major payment services company on EU financial services regulations. Advised banks and other clients on their obligations under the Payment Services Directive.
  • Intellectual property and technology
    Drafted and advised on software licencing agreements (SAAS and otherwise). Prepared trademark office applications and defended challenges from, for example, Deutsche Telekom AG.
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