The Tokyo District Court recently rejected a lawsuit by a Kyoto resident seeking reimbursement for Bitcoin he lost during the last year’s Mt. Gox hack.
As reported by a Japanese daily, the court made the said judgements after considering virtual currencies as the assets that cannot be owned by anyone. In spite of sounding ridiculous, this new definition of Bitcoin robbed the aforementioned petitioner — and other Mt. Gox plaintiffs — of their rights to recover their lost funds from the bankrupt exchange.
Presiding Judge Masumi Kurachi explained the reason behind putting Bitcoin in a self-ruling category, saying that it lacks the properties that could have made it an intangible property. He acknowledged that, unlike properties that take space and allow one to have an exclusive control, Bitcoin is more like a slippery asset because “transactions between users are structured in such a way that calls for the involvement of a third party”.
It also explains the loopholes made by the side of the petitioner, who was found representing himself without a lawyer. The plaintiff first had to make the judge see Bitcoin as a form of investment — money or commodity — which was taken from him in an unethical and illegal manner. But as it turned out, the judge was never influenced to consider Bitcoin than anything but a property. Had this ruling been the same if the plaintiff was suing a bank for losing his funds? Negative!
Before addressing the innumerable lawsuits by the Mt. Gox plaintiffs, the Japanese law must first give a definite definition to Bitcoin. The truth, however, is that that the digital currency stands far from being regulated and the ownership of Bitcoins remain null to this day.
It is still unclear how the new ruling will effect the rest of the Mt. plaintiffs and creditors, but it must be challenged at any cost so the the exchange’s remaining assets — currently worth $11.5m — could be distributed fairly among its victims.