The High Court ruled that proceedings may be served exclusively by non-fungible token (NFT) where no other method of service is available. The case of Osbourne v Persons Unknown Category A is the latest ruling showing the English court’s commitment to assist victims of cryptoasset fraud.
The claimant, Mrs Osbourne, fell victim to a hack when two of her NFTs were transferred out of one of her wallets without her knowledge by unidentified persons. That wallet was linked to Mrs Osbourne’s account on a cryptoasset marketplace trading as ‘Opensea’. Mrs Osbourne employed a digital assets tracing company (‘Mitmark’) to help locate her NFTs. Mitmark traced the NFTs to a number of wallets linked to different accounts with Opensea. In March 2022, Mrs Osbourne obtained an injunction against the persons unknown to restrain them from dealing with her NFTs. She served the claim form on Opensea, which was one of the defendants, via email.
Mitmark then uncovered further evidence that one of the NFTs had been transferred to another wallet and Mrs Osbourne sought to extend the injunction accordingly. As Mrs Osbourne was unable to identify the prospective defendants, she asked permission from the Court to serve the amended claim form by NFT. It was intended that the NFTs would contain embedded hyperlinks to the court documents.
The court allowed service by NFT. Mr Justice Lavender held that “the Claimant had no other available method of service…that was a good reason for authorising service of these document