UK court hands down jurisdictional ruling on Dr. Craig Wright’s libel claim, but fight is far from over

A U.K. High Court judge has delivered a jurisdictional ruling on Dr. Craig Wright’s legal claim for libel against Roger Ver, but the battle on the merits is not yet over.

Wright filed a libel claim in the courts of England and Wales against the Bitcoin.com CEO in May in response to a video posted on Bitcoin.com’s YouTube channel in April featuring Ver who declared, “Craig Wright is a liar and fraud. So sue me. Again.” Wright has initiated a series of legal actions against individuals and parties who claim he is a fraud or otherwise deny his statement that he is the man behind the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of Bitcoin.

On Wednesday, however, Wright was dealt with a procedural setback after U.K. High Court Judge Matthew Nicklin ruled that the courts of England and Wales were not the proper jurisdiction over the libel case against Ver. In his ruling, Nicklin wrote:

 “The claimant has not satisfied me that England and Wales is clearly the most appropriate place to bring his action for defamation over the publications complained of. In consequence, the court has no jurisdiction to hear and determine the action.”

It’s worth noting that this ruling does not at all address the merits of Wright’s claim (i.e., whether Ver committed libel by calling Wright a fraud). The decision was merely a procedural one focused on whether England and Wales was the proper jurisdiction to hear Wright’s claim against Ver. The U.K. Court focussed heavily on whether Wright has a global reputation even though he has lived in the U.K. since 2015; this would suggest that a libel victim residing in the U.K. could not sue in English courts if that libel victim was known globally. That would beg the question of where — if anywhere — it is appropriate for a libel victim to sue after having moved to the U.K. for several years. In today’s online and social media age, where commentary about people travels quickly across the globe, it is difficult to see how anyone could meet the supposed jurisdictional burden for suing in England imposed by the U.K. High Court judge in this particular instance.

However, Wright is not planning to back down and intends to appeal the judgment on jurisdiction, so that he can reach a decision on the merits. In contrast, Ver had a chance to present his case in court, but instead of presenting a defense on the merits, sought to avoid the case on jurisdictional grounds by trying to argue the U.S. is a more appropriate jurisdiction — an odd argument given that Ver has renounced his U.S. citizenship and is neither domiciled nor a resident in the country.

Wright is seeking £100,000 in monetary damages as well as an undertaking restraining Ver and any of his affiliated entities from making further allegations that deny the nChain chief scientist’s claim to being Satoshi Nakamoto. The merits have yet to be decided, as the parties continue to battle over the question of which country’s courts have jurisdiction to hear the case.

peter-mccormack-seeks-more-time-to-file-defense-vs-craig-wright-libel-claim

Peter McCormack seeks more time to file defense vs Craig Wright libel claim

Bitcoin podcaster Peter McCormack has sought for a deadline extension to file his defense against the libel claims filed by Dr. Craig Wright.

The host of the What Bitcoin Did podcast initially had until June 13 to respond to Wright’s libel claims, but his lawyers have requested the court a 28-day extension on his behalf citing the hospitalization of the lead partner at RPC as part of the reason for the delay.

Wright’s legal representatives have agreed to McCormack’s request as long as the podcaster shouldered the costs of the application to get a court order. McCormack agreed, and would also pay Wright’s “reasonable costs” resulting from his application for a deadline extension. The costs, while not expected to be substantial, might still take a chunk out of McCormack’s defense funds, which he planned to raise via crowdfunding.

McCormack now has until July 11 to file his defense.

In mid-April, Wright filed a formal libel claim in the UK High Court of Justice, Queen’s Bench Division, against McCormack, who has publicly accused the nChain chief scientist of being a fraud for maintaining that he is the man behind the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, the inventor of Bitcoin.

The libel claim against McCormack cites numerous examples of the podcaster’s official Twitter account accusing Wright of being a fraud, which appears to be an ongoing activity as evidenced by his latest post:

Previously, McCormack claimed Wright was a fraud for “promoting a fake version of bitcoin.” This is in reference to Bitcoin SV, which Wright supports as the only blockchain-based technology capable of massive on-chain scaling enabling it to become a truly global payment platform. Wright, considered to be the driving force behind the BSV protocol, is convinced that the attacks against him are intended to take down BSV as it represents a threat to the future of other cryptocurrencies.

Roger Ver snub prompts Craig Wright’s lawyers to seek court order over libel claim

Roger Ver snub prompts Craig Wright’s lawyers to seek court order over libel claim

Legal representatives for Dr. Craig Wright are about to serve Bitcoin.com CEO Roger Ver legal papers in Japan.

Wright recently filed a legal claim for libel against Ver, who was featured in an April 15 video on Bitcoin.com’s YouTube channel declaring that “Craig Wright is a liar and a fraud. So sue me. Again.” The video has since been taken down, after it was pointed out that posting libelous material is a civil and criminal offense in Japan, and punishable by up to three years’ jail time.

Ver, however, has yet to make a public apology to Wright, despite warnings from the latter’s lawyers that legal action would follow unless Ver agrees to issue the necessary apology—either via his personal online accounts or via Bitcoin.com.

Ver was personally served with the legal papers by Dr. Wright’s representatives on May 2 at Hoxton Square Bar and Kitchen in London, where a hastily organized Bitcoin Cash (BCH) event was held. At the time, Ver told the representative that he would accept service of the court documents by email to his Bitcoin.com address, or to [email protected]. But when sought for a written confirmation, Ver didn’t respond to Wright’s attorneys.

In response to the snub, Wright’s lawyers are now seeking a court order allowing them to serve the documents out of the jurisdiction on Ver in Japan, where he currently resides.

In his libel claim, filed before the UK’s Royal Courts of Justice, Queen’s Bench Division, Wright is seeking £100,000 in monetary damages as well as an undertaking restraining Ver and any of his affiliated entities from making further allegations that deny Wright’s claim to being the individual behind the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto. Contrary to Ver’s “again” statement, this is the first time that Wright had taken legal action against the so-called “Bitcoin Jesus.”

It’s worth noting that Ver had been publicly supporting Wright’s claims as Satoshi until the nChain chief scientist broke off from the BCH camp to launch Bitcoin SV (BSV). As the driving force behind the BSV protocol, Wright is convinced that the attacks against him are intended to take down BSV as the protocol—capable of massive on-chain scaling—represents a threat to the future of other cryptocurrencies.

Wright will be a featured speaker at the upcoming CoinGeek Conference in Toronto on May 29-30, which welcomes supporters of all cryptocurrencies. If you believe in the vision of the original Bitcoin white paper, and get excited when you think about the unlimited possibilities with Bitcoin SV, there’s still time to register for the CoinGeek Toronto scaling conference, and you can even save money by using BSV via Coingate.