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High Court declines to hear Bitcoin libel claim due to pending proceedings abroad

Related Member(s):
Hugh Tomlinson QC, Darryl Hutcheon
Related Practice Area(s):
Media and Information Law

In a judgment handed down on 16 January 2020, the High Court has declined jurisdiction over a libel claim arising from the disputed identity of “Satoshi Nakamoto”, the pseudonym used by the founder of digital cryptocurrency Bitcoin.

Applying Article 27 of the Lugano Convention (which regulates jurisdiction over civil cases as between EU member states and EFTA states), the Court judged that proceedings issued in Norway by the English defendant before the English proceedings began involved the same cause of action. As such Article 27 required that the English court took the proceedings no further.  The judgment offers guidance as to the application of international jurisdiction rules in the context of libel claims.

Hugh Tomlinson QC and Darryl Hutcheon appeared on behalf of the defendant to the English proceedings.