A Dutch court has ruled in favor of a claimant who was owed 0.591 BTC by a private company. The claim was filled by Mr. J.W. de Vries against Koinz Trading BV, a non-public company. After failing to comply with a court order, the company was declared bankrupt by the district court of Amsterdam.
Significantly, this case is particularly relevant to cryptocurrencies and their owners, as the court judgment classified BTC as a “transferable value”, having found that bitcoin possesses attributes of Property rights (i.e., represents value and is exchangeable).
According to the court judgment, “Bitcoin exists, according to the court, from a unique, digitally encrypted series of numbers and letters stored on the hard drive of the right-holder’s computer. Bitcoin is ‘delivered’ by sending bitcoins from one wallet to another wallet. Bitcoins are stand-alone value files, which are delivered directly to the payee by the payer in the event of a payment. It follows that a Bitcoin represents a value and is transferable. In the court’s view, it thus shows characteristics of a property right. A claim for payment in Bitcoin is, therefore, to be regarded as a claim that qualifies for verification.“
Therefore, a claim to transfer BTC under property rights is legally valid. The court further ruled that since the obligations were taken in bitcoin, the amount should be returned in the same currency.
The court designated a bankrupt trustee for this particular case, although due to the anonymous nature of bitcoin wallets and private keys, it is not clear how the trustee would be able to seize digital currency assets or carry out the payment order. It seems likely that the crypto mining company can simply refuse to provide the private keys to their wallets, in which case the only recourse might be through fiat channels. Koinz Trading BV was threatened with a fine of up to 10,000 euros, when it was initially ordered to pay up in January 2018.
Nonetheless, this ruling is a signal towards seeing a wider acceptance of cryptocurrency as an option of payment, equal with fiat currencies. That seems the case in Netherlands at least, as earlier this month Dutch Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra discussed cryptocurrency regulation in an address to the parliament. However, other organizations still seem to dismiss crypto as a valid financial instrument. Just this week Bloomberg acquired the G20 Financial Stability Board (FSB) document, in which cryptocurrencies are considered as assets, rather than currencies, as they “lack the traits of sovereign currencies”.
“I don’t think any of these cryptos satisfy the three roles money plays in an economy”, claimed Klaas Knot, chair of FSB.
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