Bitcoin Litigation

With any new technology there is often a volatile transition period from creation to booming popularity. For Bitcoin this has been true. One example of this now trending is a court ruling in Tokyo that may set a precedent for Bitcoin disputes in Japan. Precedent can be ruled against but there is still so little understanding of how Bitcoin with take hold in the economy that we are unsure the effects of this ruling on Bitcoin as a whole. 

Tokyo’s District Court has ruled that bitcoin is “not subject to ownership”, with a judge informing a plaintiff he could not claim for bitcoins lost in the Mt Gox collapse.

Judge Masumi Kurachi stated that, due to their intangible nature and reliance on third parties, bitcoins cannot be covered under existing law.

Kurachi’s comments, reported by The Japan Times, came during a lawsuit bought against bankrupt bitcoin exchange Mt Gox by an unnamed Kyoto resident.

Representing himself in court, the plaintiff had demanded repayment of 458 bitcoins, today worth $128,144, that were held in his account when the exchange shuttered last year.

It is unclear what impact this ruling will have on other Mt Gox claimants, as thousands of creditors undergo a lengthy process to divide up the exchange’s remaining assets, last valued at $11.5m.

They’ve been told by Payward CEO Jesse Powell, who is assisting the claims process, to expect only a fraction of their original funds back.

Vanishing act

Once the biggest bitcoin exchange in the world, Mt Gox filed for bankruptcy protection in Japan and the US in February 2014 after claiming 750,000 BTC had vanished from its customer wallets.

Though CEO Mark Karpeles maintains the missing coins were targeted by hackers following a transaction malleability bug, others suggest evidence points to insider involvement.

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