The UK has seen the launch of a competition-law based collective action – the equivalent of a class action in other countries – on behalf of an estimated 240,000 investors in the digital assets space. The claim is brought against four cryptocurrency exchanges: Binance, Bittylicious, Kraken and ShapeShift. It alleges that those exchanges colluded in delisting the Bitcoin Satoshi Vision (BSV) currency; and converting BSV to other cryptocurrencies without investor consent. The claim is being brought by BSV Claims Limited, a special purpose company set up to bring the action.

This is interesting for a number of reasons. First, it is the first time that a competition law claim has been brought in the digital asset space in the UK. Second, the level of the claim – at just under £10 billion – would, if successful, be the second largest UK collective action to date and would have serious consequences for the four exchanges. Third, the class representative and founder of BSV Claims Limited is Lord David Currie, a previous Chairman of the Competition and Markets Authority, the UK competition regulator.

The claim is being brought in front of the UK Competition Appeal Tribunal (“CAT”), which has powers to hear collective actions on breaches of competition law. The first step is for the CAT to decide whether the claim is a suitable one for collective proceedings. Class actions are still a relatively novel way of bringing a claim in the UK; although the number of cases being brought and approved by the CAT is growing rapidly since a recent landmark ruling by the UK Supreme Court effectively lowered the bar for successful certification of a claim. If this claim is approved, it will be the tenth collective claim successfully certified.