UK Judge Dismisses Craig Wright's Libel Lawsuit Against Roger Ver

Samuel Haig

A UK judge has dismissed Craig Wright’s libel suit against Roger Ver due to lack of jurisdiction.

In May, Craig Wright, an Australian computer scientist who claims he is Satoshi Nakamoto - the creator of Bitcoin - sued the owner of Bitcoin.com for calling him a fraud and a liar in a YouTube video.

Libel Suit Pertained to One YouTube Video and Two Tweets

Specifically, the claim references a video posted by Roger Ver “to a YouTube account held by bitcoin.com on or around 15 April 2019,”  a “tweet containing the YouTube video which was posted on the Defendant's Twitter account on 3 May 2019," and a “reply to the Twitter Posting which was also posted on Twitter on 3 May 2019 by a third party.”

The judge presiding over the case, the Honourable Mr Justice Nicklin of the Queen’s Bench Division, stated:

For the purposes of the present application I need not set out the contents of the videos about which the Claimant complains. It suffices that I set out the defamatory innuendo meaning that the Claimant says these publications bear: "The Claimant had fraudulently claimed to be Satoshi Nakamoto, that is to say the person, or one of the group of people, who developed bitcoin.

Due to Roger Ver not being domiciled in the United Kingdom, the judge asserted that his court would only have jurisdiction over the claim should be Wright be able to show that England and Wales is the most appropriate place to bring the action. In order to ascertain such, the court was required to “consider all the jurisdictions where the defamatory statement has been published.”

The court also raised concerns pertaining to “libel tourism” - as Ver was served the legal notice whilst visiting the United Kingdom (UK) on a short trip. Judge Nicklin highlighted that the “Service of the Claim Form on the Defendant whilst he was within the jurisdiction is important; it meant that the Claimant did not require the Court's permission to serve the proceedings.“

Judge Rejects Claim Based on Lack of Jurisdiction

In examining the purportedly libellous media, the court found that 23.2% of the YouTube video’s viewers were based in the United States, compared to just 5.3% of UK-based viewers. Additionally, 35.5% of subscribers following the Bitcoin.com channel that hosted the video are based in the US, compared to 7.7% of UK-based subscribers. Similarly, 29% of subscribers following the Twitter account in question were US-based, compares to just 7% of followers hailing from the UK.

As such, Judge Nicklin found that “The evidence clearly demonstrates that the most substantial publication of the statements complained of is in the U.S. It is common ground that, of the global publication, only some 7% took place in England and Wales.” He concluded:

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. The action will be struck out.

In other Craig Wright legal news, the counsel representing the Kleiman family in their $10 billion lawsuit against Wright has sought to question Ramona Watts - Craig Wright’s wife, Andrew O’Hagan - the author of the book The Satoshi Affair, and Rober MacGregor - a business associate of Wright’s.