The High Court has ruled on an ex parte interim application involving allegations of extensive cyber fraud relating to a cryptocurrency initial coin offering. The court granted both a worldwide freezing order and an ancillary disclosure order against the alleged fraudster, whose identity is not known: Ion Science Ltd v Persons Unknown (unreported, 21 December 2020).

The decision is the latest in a series of interim rulings which suggest that cryptoassets can be treated as property within the common law definition of the term. The decision is also significant for considering the lex situs of cryptoassets. In the absence of previous case law, the judgment relied on academic commentary to conclude (to the standard of a serious issue to be tried) that the lex situs of a cryptoasset is the place where the person or company who owned the coin or token is domiciled.

The court also found that a free-standing Bankers Trust order could be made against cryptocurrency exchanges out of the jurisdiction, to compel the disclosure of information relating to the cryptoassets.

For more information see this post on our Litigation Notes blog.