It seems that Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin is ignoring a formal letter before action. After being served with a Letter of Claim by the law firm representing Dr. Craig Wright for libel claims, Buterin had until April 23 to respond. CoinGeek has learned that no response was made to Wright’s counsel.
On April 12, Wright’s lawyers had sent a Letter of Claim to Buterin, asking him to retract defamatory comments made against Dr. Wright, publicly apologize, and admit to the truth that Wright was the creator of Bitcoin and the man behind the pseudonymous name Satoshi Nakamoto. This stemmed from comments Buterin made in the past, calling Wright a fraud and questioning why the industry allowed him to speak at conferences.
In England, a Letter of Claim is an important step before a litigant can file formal legal proceedings, and is a requirement of the English High Court’s Pre-Action Protocol. Because Buterin did not respond to the Letter of Claim by an April 23 deadline, Wright’s lawyers will now serve a formal Claim Form, or Writ, against Buterin which has been issued by the High Court of Justice, Queen’s Bench Division in London, England.
Notably, while Buterin did not directly respond to Wright’s Letter of Claim, it hasn’t stopped him from talking about Wright more. On April 16, in an article published to his personal website titled “Free Speech”, Buterin defended his speech against the Bitcoin creator and repeated some of his attacks:
“About a year ago at Deconomy I publicly shouted down Craig Wright, a scammer claiming to be Satoshi Nakamoto, finishing my explanation of why the things he says make no sense with the question ‘why is this fraud allowed to speak at this conference?’”
In his blog post, Buterin doesn’t acknowledge the Letter of Claim sent to him, so it’s possible he hasn’t checked his mail yet. He does show knowledge of the papers sent to Peter McCormack though, and says the legal request made by Wright is censorship.
He then gets to the real heart of the matter, defending Binance, Kraken and Shapeshift’s decisions to delist Bitcoin SV (BSV). For him, those companies are allowed to delist BSV and that’s not censorship, but quite inconsistently, Wright legally defending himself against claims that he is a fraud is somehow censorship.
Basically, if the story supports his interests, he’s cool with it.
Buterin would never bite the hand that feeds his Ethereum empire. Exchanges like Binance allow people to buy all manner of ETH-based tokens, so it’s in Buterin’s best interest to keep that going.
It’s also in his favor to continue attacking Dr. Craig Wright and BSV, because it’s adherence to the original Bitcoin whitepaper and vision for a single global public blockchain will eventually render Ethereum obsolete.
If Buterin is a man who believes what he says, it’s a very simple matter now. He can respond in the English High Court and repeat his claim (under oath) that Dr. Craig Wright is not Satoshi Nakamoto. Wright then can have his day in court to prove Buterin wrong.
Assuming Buterin finally pays attention to his mail and Hodlonaut also comes out of hiding from the legal proceedings, it’s very likely that to save time and the court’s resources, their libel trial could be merged into those of McCormack’s, Blockstream CEO Adam Back, cryptocurrency blog Chepicap and Ethereum World News.
Unlike Buterin, some of those parties have responded to the legal claim letters they received, but none of them have complied with Wright’s demands for an apology and retraction. So it appears the libel cases will push on, and Wright will have his day in court to prove his identity as creator of Bitcoin.
Media entities interested in this case can contact Ed Pownall at [email protected].
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