The much anticipated judgment in Tulip Trading Ltd v Bitcoin Association for BSV & others [2022] EWHC 667 (Ch) was published this morning. James Ramsden QC of Astraea Group acted for the leading group of successful defendants. The judgment is the most important so far in the cryptocurrency and blockchain space as its consequences are fundamental to how the underlying technology works within the law.

The court found that open source Bitcoin software developers whose code is widely adopted and used to trade or store cryptocurrencies owe neither fiduciary duties nor a common law duty of care to those who use that code to store or trade their crypto assets. Tulip had claimed $4.5bn from sixteen developers alleging that they owed fiduciary and common law duties to come to its aid by writing and applying a “patch” to the blockchain network in order to reverse an alleged hack that had led to the claimed loss of its Bitcoin.

James Ramsden QC commented; “As anticipated, this is a hugely significant decision. The court has reached a clear view on this emerging and important area of the law: The contrary result would have had a chilling effect on the crypto space and on the blockchain more widely. It has been my privilege to lead such a talented team working at the cutting edge of this technology and the law; #SophieEyre #PriyanMeewella of Bird & Bird and Astraea Group's #HarmishMehta.  Thanks also go to all our supporters in the sector. The decision further confirms this jurisdiction as the best equipped and most expert in shaping the law of digital assets.”.

James Ramsden QC obtained the very first cryptocurrency freezing order in September 2018 and with Astraea Group continues to lead expertise in the law of blockchain and DeFi.

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