High Court rules on libel claim over Bitcoin tweets


Re: Wright v McCormack [2021] EWHC 2671 (QB)

In a pre-trial review, the court ruled on the parties’ applications for permission to amend their statements of case, and the claimant’s application to strike out parts of the re-amended defence and of the Defendant’s witness statement for trial.

This is a libel claim relating to fourteen tweets and a YouTube video produced in 2019 by the Claimant, a computer scientist and businessman active within the cryptocurrency sphere. The Defendant is a podcaster and a blogger who specialises in publishing content about Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. The Claimant alleged that the Defendant’s publications accused him of having fraudulently claimed to be Satoshi Nakamoto, the name used by the person or persons who developed Bitcoin, and that they caused serious harm to his reputation as a consequence.

The judgment contains analysis of the principles relating to amendment of a statement of case in a libel claim, including after expiry of a limitation period, as well as of the application of the rule in Dingle v Associated Newspapers Limited [1964] AC 371 to the issue of serious harm to reputation under s 1 of the Defamation Act 2013.

Catrin Evans QC and Ben Silverstone were involved in this case.

The judgment can be found here.