Decision of the Cassation Court

In a recent decision of the Cassation Court in Dubai, the court was asked to evaluate the return of 608 bitcoin to the transferor from the transferee.

In this case, the court found that it was not enough to demonstrate that the transfer occurred, but the transferor also had to demonstrate that the receiving wallet actually belonged to/was owned by the transferee.

Without the proof of a link between the transferee and the crypto wallet receiving payment, there was an insufficient nexus to rule in favour of the transferor.

Comment

This is one of the earliest litigated incidents of a contested transfer of cryptocurrency making it to the highest court of Dubai. Currently, the function of (and pseudo-anonymity offered by) the blockchain and the evidentiary standards set by the court are at odds.

If anything, this case demonstrates that the market needs more sophisticated tools to establish a connection between the ledger identity and the individual holding a wallet if any major strides are to be made in order to protect individuals involved in such transfers.

Until these tools are developed to enable the courts to find satisfactory evidence OR evidentiary standards are varied for crypto transactions, activities on-chain are subject to the same disclaimer as all transactions online: Be careful whom you're sending your assets to and do so at your own risk.

"the plaintiff had transferred the encrypted currency “Bitcoin” to the defendant...did not indicate how to prove the ownership of the account to the defendant, noting that by referring to the page shown in the advisory report taken from the “blockchain” website, it became clear to the court that they are symbols..."

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