Story image

Cryptocurrency could spur significant developments in NZ property law

08 May 17

Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies may be the catalyst for significant developments in New Zealand law.

The treatment of 'intangible property' is an area ripe for clarification, and cryptocurrency may well give rise to the case to test the boundaries.

A Russell McVeagh publication explores the question of what legal remedies are available if bitcoins (or any valuable property rights stored on the blockchain) are stolen from the rightful owner and reviews the treatment of intangible property in various Commonwealth jurisdictions.

Banking and Finance Partner Tom Hunt says, "Cutting-edge innovations in cryptocurrencies, as well as blockchain technologies, smart contracts and robo-advice are shifting the landscape of financial services and the companies that make use of them.”

“While each promises a wealth of opportunities, these technologies also bring about new challenges in regulation and enforcement to be considered."

The more obvious claims available to target a third party recipient would not work if the third party received them innocently (the so-called 'bona fide purchaser' defence).

A claim in knowing receipt, a proprietary restitutionary claim or a claim for unjust enrichment, would probably be defeated by this defence.

One answer might be a claim in conversion.

Conversion is a tort of strict liability and may operate in circumstances where the bona fide purchaser defence does not apply.

It would, therefore, be a significant expansion of the rights of recourse if the New Zealand courts extended the tort to apply to intangible property such as cryptocurrency.

Litigation partner Chris Curran adds, "As the Blockchain is increasingly used to store things of value, this legal area seems likely to be tested at some point.”

“We will watch with interest to see where New Zealand lands regarding the protection of property rights in this emerging and disruptive FinTech field."

Agritech firm Engender acquired
heir backing as an international strategic partner will ensure that Engender can take its Kiwi innovation worldwide.”
Edge data centres expanding to shared working spaces
Likely beginning a trend, Christie Spaces is now the first workspace in Australia to offer customers data centre rack space on-site for rent.
Twitter bots create a third of the world's misinformation
Lies, fake news and misinformation – this is the age of the internet, and Twitter bots are largely responsible for perpetrating it.
Trade Me receives $2.54 billion takeover bid
“This indicative proposal is subject to a number of conditions, including the completion of due diligence.”
Wellingtonians win Emmy Award for sound production tool
A Wellington post-production sound team has been awarded an Emmy for its contributions to the TV industry.
IP theft: A global issue catching NZ businesses off guard
“We have this incredible record of innovation in New Zealand. But our innovative businesses haven’t always been meticulous in shoring up their IP."
'Tech for Good' community launches in NZ
The group will encourage more discussion about how technology can work hand-in-hand with social innovation.
Student app Niesh gets $1m funding windfall
“We’re a data driven company, and we’re using what we know to benefit students and the companies giving them rewards, discounts, and jobs,” explains co-founder Jae Yoo.