The claim is brought in the Competition Appeal Tribunal (“CAT“) on behalf of an estimated 240,000 UK investors in Bitcoin Satoshi Vision (“BSV“). The claim, a legal first in competition law applying to the digital assets sector, seeks an opt-out collective proceedings order (“CPO“) on behalf of the estimated 240,000 investors. The investors, or class members, are being represented by BSV Claims Limited. BSV Claims Limited is a company limited by guarantee. Lord Currie of Marylebone is the director of BSV Claims Limited. Lord Currie was inaugural Chair of both Ofcom and the Competition and Markets Authority. Lord Currie is former professor of economics and also a former Dean of the Bayes Business School.
The claim alleges that beginning in April 2019 UK BSV holders suffered losses estimated up to £9.9 billion as a result of the delisting of BSV by exchanges Binance, Bittylicious, Kraken and Shapeshift.
Kraken and Binance are also alleged to have caused further losses to investors by forcibly converting BSV to other cryptocurrencies without investors’ consent. The application states that the four exchanges combined in such a way as to breach the Competition Act 1998 by reducing, preventing, or distorting competition in the United Kingdom.
The application claims that, among other matters, the four exchanges colluded to damage the prospects for BSV by delisting which prevented trading. It is alleged the exchanges did this deliberately, harming BSV and reducing competition in the UK between BSV and other digital assets.
The application also alleges that the exchanges caused investors to lose money and gave them no meaningful opportunity to withdraw their BSV. The case argues that the exchanges’ actions curtailed BSV’s ability to become successful, despite its inherently superior technology.
SEAMUS ANDREW, Founder and Managing Partner, Velitor Law: “Hundreds of thousands of people have potentially lost significant amounts of money, through no fault of their own, due to the actions of these exchanges and we are determined to help them win that money back. This is a rare type of case, which has only been recently made possible in the English courts due to changes in the law in 2015. We aim to show that these exchanges harmed BSV and caused financial hurt to many small, individual investors.”
The exchanges made no attempt to hide their coordinated delisting of BSV. The exchanges’ intentions were communicated publicly over Twitter by leading cryptocurrency figures.
The application is being brought in the CAT. If the application is certified by the CAT, the case will proceed to trial at a date to be fixed. A CPO is similar to a class action in the United States. Both types of case involve a representative claim being brought on behalf of all people in the same situation (the “class”). This claim is brought on an opt-out basis which means that everyone in the class approved by the court is included automatically unless they choose to opt-out of the case.
- The claim is for a collective proceedings order (“CPO”) under section 47B of the Competition Act 1998.
- The claim is being brought in the U.K. Competition Appeal Tribunal (the “CAT“). The CAT is a specialist court dealing with competition law issues. It is a court of first instance, at the same level as the High Court.
- The claim is supported by independent expert valuation evidence obtained from Oxera Economics. Oxera is well-regarded economics consultancy with extensive experience of calculating damages in competition cases.
- Oxera estimates the damage caused by the defendants at up to £9,938.1 billion, including interest to 21 July 2022. Actual damages awarded will be determined by the CAT.
- The damages received by investors will depend on the circumstances in which they held or sold BSV following the delisting. There are three distinct groups. The first group suffered losses as a result of selling after the delisting because the delisting reduced the price of BSV. The second group suffered losses because they were deprived on the chance of selling BSV for a much higher price, which BSV would have achieved but for the delisting. The third group suffered losses because they were customers of Binance and Kraken and had their BSV forcibly converted into different coins. Investors in the third group were therefore deprived of the chance to sell BSV at higher prices that would have prevailed but for the delisting.
About Velitor: Our ambition at Velitor Law is simple: we want to be the UK’s most prestigious claimant disputes firm, bringing together the most perceptive and effective legal minds and backing them with unrivalled resources, progressive technologies and a clear purpose. We have a unique focus on claimants which, in turn, provides us with a single-minded mission to seek justice and recourse against seemingly insurmountable institutions. And our experience of handling high-profile cases, at the highest level, for them is second to none.
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