April 22, 2019
Osler counsel Evan Thomas tells Law Times that a recent decision in a child support dispute allowing redactions on cryptocurrency disclosure will be “of interest to family lawyers and commercial lawyers alike.” In her article, author Anita Balakrishnan discusses an Ontario Superior Court of Justice decision which ruled that there was “a greater risk of prejudice to the father if he were required to produce the unredacted records.” Evan, counsel in Osler’s Litigation Group and who was not involved in the case, says there’s so little case law in the area of cryptocurrency that this decision could have wider implications. He says that privacy around cryptocurrency holdings also came up in the context of a lawsuit involving creditors and Quadriga, for example. Evan says that there have been reports of safety concerns for cryptocurrency holders.
“Looking beyond simply family law matters, there are going to be issues of disclosure of information about cryptocurrency assets in potentially any kind of litigation. That information may end up being filed in court. Then what’s interesting is it can, absent a ceiling order, become a matter of public record,” Evan tells Law Times. “The individual who had the cryptocurrency was concerned not just for his privacy but also his personal security if information about his cryptocurrency holdings was filed in court.”
Evan also says that while the courts were “perceptive to the privacy concerns around cryptocurrency in this case,” expert evidence can help judges understand the difference between cryptocurrency and other financial assets in terms of security.
“There are definitely a different set of privacy issues related to cryptocurrency,” Evan tells Law Times. “Cryptocurrency transactions are in general, transacted on public ledgers. Which is to say that I can go get a copy of the bitcoin blockchain, and if I know that you control a particular address, I can trace transactions from that address to a different address, and so on and so forth. Even if I had a snapshot of your bank statement today, I wouldn’t know your balance tomorrow or be able to track where your money went from there …. It’s potentially quite invasive into your financial privacy to disclose too much about your [cryptocurrency] holdings because of this public ledger.”
For more information, read Anita Balakrishnan’s article “Judge allows redactions on cryptocurrency disclosure in child support feud” in Law Times on April 22, 2019.