Ontier LLP, the lawyers of Process and Industrial Developments (P&ID), the firm that won a $6.6 billion arbitration award against Nigeria, is suing a number of Bitcoin developers on the nature and extent of legal duties owed by developers of blockchain. The case was filed on behalf of Dr. Craig Wright, TTL CEO who claims to be the illusive Satoshi Nakamoto, the inventor of Bitcoin.
Legal proceedings have begun against a number of Bitcoin developers on the nature and extent of legal duties owed by developers of blockchain. The case is instituted by Tulip Trading Limited (TTL), a Seychelles company whose primary beneficial owner and CEO is Dr. Craig Wright.
Dr. Wright claims to be the illusive Satoshi Nakamoto, the inventor of Bitcoin, and Ontier LLP, a London law firm, has begun legal proceedings against Bitcoin developers for the BTC, BCH, BCH ABC, and BSV protocols after a substantial theft of Bitcoin occurred in 2020.
Ontier was the firm that secured an arbitral judgment against Nigeria, which resulted in a $6.6 billion award in the Process and Industrial Developments (P&ID) case against the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation. That case is currently the subject of an appeal by the Nigerian government.
Wright claims that in February 2020, his personal computer was hacked by persons unknown, and encrypted private keys to two addresses, which hold substantial quantities of Bitcoin belonging to TTL, were stolen. The theft is the subject of an on-going investigation by the Cyber Crime division of the South East England Regional Organised Crime Unit.
The value of the claim as at today’s market rates will be in excess of £3.65 billion. Approximately £3.59 billion is in BTC, £39.4 million is in BCH, £14.3 million is in BSV, and £1.1 million is in BCH ABC.
TTL is requesting that the developers enable TTL to regain access to and control of its Bitcoin on the grounds that they owe Bitcoin owners both “tortious and fiduciary duties” under English law as a result of the high level of “power and control” they hold over their respective blockchains.
The litigant claims that the original Bitcoin was designed to work within the law and so that illegal activity could be reversed, notwithstanding that that aim has been abused in the version of the BTC currently in use.
“Our client always intended Bitcoin to operate within existing laws, notwithstanding the original ethos of independence he envisaged for the digital currency. We assert there are identifiable legal obligations attributable to those who develop and control Bitcoin. As a victim of theft of some serious magnitude, Tulip Trading is seeking recovery of its access to and control of its digital assets from those in a position to remedy its loss,” the firm stated.
The firm is claiming that the fact that someone has stolen Tulip Trading’s digitally-held private Bitcoin keys does not prevent developers from deploying code to enable the rightful owner to regain control of its bitcoin. It believes that a ruling in Tulip Trading’s favor will have considerable implications for others who have lost access to their Bitcoin or had coins stolen.
A favorable ruling would mean that thousands of others who have either lost their coins or had them stolen can follow a similar path to recover their lost Bitcoin. Having the ability to recover stolen coins could completely change the way that Bitcoin is traded.