In a ground-breaking case of the upmost importance to investors, and developers of cryptocurrencies and other blockchain assets, the Court of Appeal in Tulip Trading Limited v van der Laan and others have held that developers may owe fiduciary duties to the owners of bitcoin.
The Claimant (Tulip) is beneficially owned by Dr Craig Wright and his family. Dr Wright claims to be Satoshi Nakamoto, the presumed pseudonym of the person who created Bitcoin.
Tulip alleges that it is the owner of Bitcoin valued at over £4 billion (as at April 2021) which is said to be held in two addresses across four Bitcoin networks. Tulip claims that it cannot now access these assets or move them, because it “lost” the keys linked with the addresses after a hack was perpetrated against them.
In an attempt to re-gain access to the addresses, Tulip brought claims against numerous Bitcoin software developers,who it alleges are the developers or individuals that control the four Bitcoin networks. Tulip argues that it would be a simple matter for the Defendants to secure the “lost” Bitcoin and move them to another address that Tulip controls.
Please click on this link for the full article by James Newman on whether the decision in Tulip Trading Limited v van der Laan and others indicates a change in duties owed to cryptocurrency investors.