Canada: Court Orders Tracing Remedy For Cryptocurrency - Copytrack Pte Ltd v. Wall

The decision of the British Columbia Supreme Court on September 12, 2018 in Copytrack Pte Ltd v. Wall1 is one of the first cases in Canada where a court-ordered remedy has been applied to digital currency, and it may have major implications for parties seeking relief in respect of digital currency in the future. This case demonstrates that courts will craft laws to meet the realities of the digital world economy.

The Plaintiff Copytrack was a Singapore company engaged in the business of digital content management. As part of its business it had created a cryptocurrency called "CPY Tokens" and offered investors an initial coin offering ("ICO"). The Defendant Brian Wall participated in the ICO and subscribed for 530 CPY tokens. Instead of transferring to Wall his 530 CPY tokens, Copytrack mistakenly transferred 530 tokens of the well-known and much more valuable Ether cryptocurrency. The 530 CPY tokens had a value of $780 CDN, while the 530 Ether tokens had a value of approximately $495,000 CDN.

Copytrack alerted Mr. Wall of the mistake but Mr. Wall failed to return them, claiming that a third party had taken them from his digital wallet without his knowledge or consent and so they were no longer in his control. Copytrack commenced an action in the British Columbia Supreme Court against Mr. Wall for the return of the Ether tokens, and moved for summary judgment.

Copytrack framed its claim in terms of the torts of conversion and detinue (aka wrongful detention). In the Court's view, whether Copytrack's claim could be framed in tort was one of the key issues in the proceeding, as was the issue of whether that question could be determined on a summary judgment application.

In what was ultimately an important twist, Mr. Wall unfortunately passed away before Copytrack's summary trial application was heard. While the Court held that Mr. Wall's death did not have an impact on Copytrack's claim, it had certain practical implications. Specifically, the Court found that it was not clear what sending the matter to trial would accomplish since it would not result in further or better evidence on behalf of Mr. Wall. The Court also rejected Mr. Wall's submissions that the matter was not appropriate for summary trial, because his defence that a third party had taken the Ether tokens was not supported by any evidence and was no more than a bald assertion.

However, the Court was hesitant to proceed with the summary trial application without hearing further submissions from counsel on the critical issue of whether the torts of conversion and detinue could apply to cryptocurrency.

Copytrack initially took the position that the torts applied because the Ether tokens were clearly "goods", but with a lack of case law on point and various dictionary definitions that suggested cryptocurrency is not a good because it is a digital form of currency, the Court determined that this fact could not simply be assumed. In further submissions, Copytrack argued that the determination of whether cryptocurrency was a "good" was actually unnecessary. Copytrack cited various cases where claims in conversion and detinue had been advanced in relation to funds, shares, customer lists, accounts receivable, crops and mineral interests. Copytrack then referred to certain characteristics of the Ether Tokens that made the Ether Tokens amenable to claims in conversion and detinue, including:

  • They are capable of being possessed, stored, transferred, lost and stolen;
  • They were, at the time of the conversion and wrongful detention began, held in a digital wallet within the control of Mr. Wall;
  • They are specifically identifiable and Copytrack had traced them to five wallets in which they were currently being held; and
  • They can be used as a medium of exchange, a store of value, and a unit of account, like funds or currency.

Ultimately, the Court held that the evidentiary record was inadequate to permit a determination of the issue, and in any event it was a complex and as of yet undecided question that was not suitable for determination by way of a summary trial application.

However, given the practical implications of Mr. Wall's death and the undisputed evidence that the Ether Tokens were the property of Copytrack, were sent to Mr. Wall in error, and were not returned, the Court held that it was clear the Ether Tokens should be rightfully returned to Copytrack and it would be unjust to deny Copytrack a remedy.

Accordingly, the Court made an order that Copytrack be entitled to trace and recover the 530 Ether tokens received by Mr. Wall from Copytrack in whatsoever hands they may currently be held. The Court refused to grant the remedies of disgorgement or damages Copytrack had sought.

While the question of whether cryptocurrency can be the subject of traditional torts like conversion and detinue remains to be decided another day, this case demonstrates that courts now recognize the value of digital currencies even if they do not precisely fit into existing legal frameworks.

As is always the case when new precedents are forged, a number of important questions remain, particularly with respect to enforcement. While cryptocurrency by its nature is an immutable ledger of transactions, it is also anonymous. In this case, Copytrack possessed identifying information about the five wallets to which the Ether tokens had been distributed, but such information may not always be available. Moreover, identifying the person or entity affiliated with the wallet is a subsequent hurdle that will likely need to be addressed.

Even if the funds are locatable, extricating the funds may be challenging given the difficulties presented by encryption. Unlike judgment debts for fiat currencies, banks and other financial institutions are not available to assist with enforcement.

Furthermore, it remains to be seen how much extra-territorial reach an order such as this will have. Depending on how jurisdiction is determined with respect to wallet holders, foreign courts may be reluctant or unwilling to enforce an order of the BC Supreme Court relating to cryptocurrency.


1 2018 BCSC 1709

Read the original article on

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions