A landmark case from the UK’s High Court has ruled NFTs as legal ‘property’, meaning future victims of NFT theft in England and Wales will now be offered legal assistance when trying to retrieve their stolen assets.
The case in question involved the theft of two ‘Boss Beauties’ NFTs from the crypto wallet of Lavinia Osbourne, the founder of Women in Blockchain Talks. After deliberating the nature of the stolen assets, the judge ruled that they were in-fact ‘property’, therefore making them eligible to receive access to legal protection if ever dishonestly appropriated. In the case of Osbourne, the protection on offer was an injunction served onto Ozone Networks (which hosts OpenSea) to freeze the assets, as well as a ‘Bankers Trust’ disclosure which compelled OpenSea to release information about the two accounts which hold the stolen NFTs.
In addition, the court has consulted the expertise of intelligence firm Mitmark to actually retrieve the assets, which they will do by collating evidence and putting names to the assets’ current holders.
Although the ruling also added that the orders must be carried out irrespective of any cross-jurisdiction dynamics, for now, rights to legal protection is only available for NFT theft victims in England and Wales. With this in mind, it is hoped that the ruling will eventually be adopted on a global scale, to ensure that the entirety of the blockchain community can have their stolen NFTs treated as if they were any other form of physical commodity.