Singapore Judge: Crypto is Personal Property in ByBit Case

Singapore Judge: Crypto is Personal Property in ByBit Case

The Evolution of Cryptocurrencies: From Digital Assets to Personal Property

In a recent landmark case, cryptocurrencies have finally been recognized as personal properties by the Singapore High Court. This significant development has attracted attention from the crypto community worldwide, as it sets a precedent for the legal status of digital assets. Judge Philip Jeyaretnam made this declaration during a case brought by Bybit, a prominent cryptocurrency exchange, against a former employee accused of transferring $4.2 million USDT from the exchange’s account to her own.

The Genesis of the Case

The court ruling, which ordered the accused employee to return the funds to Bybit, was not unexpected. However, what captured everyone’s attention was the judge’s classification of cryptocurrencies as personal properties. To explain this classification, the judge drew an interesting analogy between cryptocurrencies and fiat money. Just as fiat money is considered personal property, the judge argued that cryptocurrencies should be regarded the same way. Despite being intangible, cryptocurrencies can be assigned a distinct identity, similar to how a river is named even though the water it contains is constantly changing.

To further dismantle the argument that cryptocurrencies lack “real” value, the judge emphasized that value is a subjective judgment made collectively by human minds. This assertion challenges the notion that only physical assets can possess tangible value.

Understanding Cryptocurrencies as Personal Property

Judge Jeyaretnam went on to expand on the concept of cryptocurrencies as personal property by referring to them as “things in action.” This terminology signifies the rights a person has to sue for recovery of personal property, mainly pertaining to money. In this context, cryptocurrencies can be seen as an actionable asset that can be pursued through legal means. The judge clarified that he was not classifying USDT as personal property simply because it could be redeemed for its physical equivalent. Instead, he argued that the redeemability of cryptocurrency is not a prerequisite for its classification as a “thing in action.”

This ruling in Singapore is not an isolated incident, as other jurisdictions have also started recognizing digital assets as personal property. In 2022, a London Court ruled that non-fungible tokens (NFTs) represent “private property.” In a similar vein, the UK Law Commission recommended the creation of a new category of personal property to accommodate digital assets like cryptocurrencies and NFTs. These developments indicate a growing global acceptance of cryptocurrencies and their legal recognition as personal property.

The Road to Global Acceptance

Moreover, other jurisdictions, such as Montana in the United States, have shown support for recognizing cryptocurrencies as personal property. A Montana Bill classifying crypto as personal property was approved by the House of Representatives in April 2022. With these progressive steps being taken around the world, it is likely that cryptocurrencies will soon be officially acknowledged as personal property in major jurisdictions.

This legal recognition holds several implications for the blockchain industry. It solidifies the status of cryptocurrencies as assets that can be owned, bought, and sold with legal protection. It also provides a basis for the development of robust regulations and laws to govern the cryptocurrency ecosystem, ensuring greater investor protection and market stability.

In conclusion, the recent ruling by the Singapore High Court declaring cryptocurrencies as personal properties signifies a significant milestone in the evolution of the blockchain industry. This recognition brings cryptocurrencies on par with traditional forms of personal property, highlighting their value and legal status. The growing acceptance of cryptocurrencies as personal property in various jurisdictions paves the way for comprehensive regulations and wider adoption of digital assets. As the industry continues to mature, this development positions cryptocurrencies as legitimate and valuable assets within the global financial landscape.

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