Cryptocurrencies, a new legal reality - Sagué Abogados penalistas
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Cryptocurrencies, a new legal reality

Cryptocurrencies, a new legal reality

Bitcoin, Blockchain, Cryptocurrencies, are concepts that are progressively being incorporated into our language and that evidence the existence of a new system destined to completely transform the most traditional sectors of our economy.

There is currently no definition of cryptocurrency in the dictionary of the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language, however, the Oxford dictionary defines it as: “A digital currency that employs encryption techniques to regulate the generation of currency units and verify the transfer of funds, and that operates independently of a central bank”.

The most popular cryptocurrencies are the Bitcoins, a currency based on digital accounting that, although it is true that it collects the information of the buyer and the seller, it is no less true that this information is not verified by any agency, no one can certify the veracity of the data of the issuer or the receiver. In this regard, experts have already warned that “there is no technology capable of controlling cryptocurrencies”.

This is a new technological reality whose mere extension is inevitably leading to an increase in problems related to it, such as fraud, theft and/or misappropriation of cryptocurrency, which require not only a new legal regulation, but also a judicial interpretation adapted to the new technologies and their constant changes.

Based on the above premises, in the legal field it should be noted that judgments have already begun to be issued that expressly cite the word Bitcoin as a virtual currency subject to valuation for damages arising from crime, however, in such judgments the enormous difficulty of proof and quantification that will involve this phenomenon is already apparent.

By way of example, last June 18, 2018, the Court of Instruction 2 of Barcelona issued a Judgment by virtue of which it recognized that “in said phone (stolen by a cab driver), the complainant kept an application “Cryptocurrency Wallet (JAXX)”, investments of the virtual currency BITCOIN, which, as he alleges, has caused him damages of 15.000 euros, value of his investments in bitcoins at the time of the facts, being the loss at the present time of 9,000 euros”, finally concluding S.Sª that “such damage cannot be accredited, since the complainant cannot actually determine it, since as the phone was formatted there is no way to prove the amount in his case lost, not being able to quantify the damage.” (Ruling 312/18 of June 18, 2018).

In short, we are at the tip of a huge iceberg that only the course of time will allow us to discover its magnitude, extent and complexity, with special relevance, in the field of criminal law, to the interpretation of case law that will be formed in the face of this new criminal reality.