Courts in China are struggling to clear cases relating to cryptocurrency due to a lack of clear regulation despite the current ban.
Reportedly, many of the cases which relate to crypto, which now stand at 270 at the last count, have arisen due to Bitcoin’s falling price. Coupled with contrasting interpretations of the law at the local level, this has caused a backlog in the courts.
Cryptocurrencies are officially banned in China since mainland residents were restricted from trading in cryptocurrencies on exchanges late last year and ICOs were outlawed. Nonetheless, crypto related disputes are increasing in both frequency and volume. However, it appears this state law is applied at the local level often without an official government mandate.
The current problem has arisen because courts often can’t ascertain exactly how illegal many of the activities that come before them are, due to a lack of regulatory clarity. Reports indicate that many local areas had no official statement from the State regarding the ban and how to implement it.
In the first week of August, out of the 274 pending crypto cases, 126 related to criminal activity relating to property and economic crime and another 107 related to breach of contract, with two administrative issues.
Such cases as this one relating to crypto exchange Coinice are quite typical. The exchange sent a client BTC 5 in error during a system upgrade. The client quickly sold this, refusing to return the funds when the error had been spotted. His argument was that as Bitcoin trading was an illegal activity in China, the exchange had in fact committed the illegal offense.
The result, having been ruled as a civil case by a Beijing court, maintained that the client had initially agreed to Coinice’s service conditions and thereby was instructed to return the funds. The client appealed, taking the case to an appeals court, the Second Intermediate People’s Court of Beijing, which upheld the lower court decision. It maintained that the illegality of the exchange’s operations didn’t affect the requirement of the defendant to return the funds.
Many Chinese companies have moved their operations to Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, the United States and the EU in order to escape the ban and continue trading.
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