Cryptocurrencies are property capable of being held on trust New Zealand High Court holds

May 05, 2020

In Ruscoe v Cryptopia Ltd (in Liquidation) [2020] NZHC 728 the New Zealand High Court held that cryptocurrencies, as digital assets, are a form of property that are capable of being held on trust.

The decision is important:

  • as one of only a few currently in the common law world to address expressly the question, in a fully reasoned judgment, as to whether digital assets such as cryptocurrencies constitute property and can be the subject of a trust; and
  • because it also addresses the difference between “pure information”, on the one hand, and “digital assets”, on the other, in terms of characterisation as property (this is an issue of significance in areas going beyond the realm of cryptocurrencies and Distributed Ledger Technology – for example, in relation to ownership of machine-generated data created by Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things).

Click here to read the full briefing which outlines the Court’s findings on these issues and considers the wider implications of the judgment.