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Freezing Orders: A Landmark New Judgement On NFTs From UK Courts

Freezing Orders: A Landmark New Judgement On NFTs From UK Courts
Friday, 05 August 2022 By Hugo Plowman, Philippa Rees, Olivia Woodhead

Digital ownership of cryptoassets has brought with it an exponential growth in engagement and monetisation. Indeed, the Non-Fungible Token (NFT) market exploded in 2021, growing to an estimated $22 billion and attracting the attention of investors, the sports industry, musicians, artists and reputed auction houses, such as Sotheby's, alike. However, the creation, trading, ownership and diverse use of these cryptoassets raises interesting legal questions, not least amongst them the matter of proprietary rights.

There have been several instances in recent years of the High Court taking action to freeze stolen cryptocurrency. However, in an unprecedented judgment from HHJ Pelling QC in the case of Lavinia Deborah Osbourne v (1) Persons Unknown (2) Ozone Networks Inc Trading as Opensea[1], the High Court of England and Wales took an important first step of granting a freezing order over two NFTs, thereby extending this developing jurisdiction to cover this additional class of cryptoassets.

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Written by

Hugo Plowman

Hugo Plowman

Hugo is Head of the Mishcon de Raya Fraud group, recognised as a market-leading practice in both Chambers & Partners and Legal 500 directories for Civil Fraud. He also has a broad remit as Divisional Head of the Fraud, Insolvency, White Collar Crime, Tax & Investigations, MDR Cyber and MDR Discover businesses.

Philippa Rees

Philippa Rees

Philippa is a professional support lawyer and managing associate at Mishcon de Raya and specialises in substantial corporate and commercial fraud cases, often with a multi-jurisdictional element. Her forte is claims involving diversion of business opportunities and breach of fiduciary duty and obtaining injunctive relief including freezing orders and multi-site search orders.

Olivia Woodhead

Olivia Woodhead

Olivia is a first year Trainee Solicitor at Mishcon de Raya. She is due to qualify in 2023.

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