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Doctrinal Issues in Recovering NFTs That Have Been Wrongfully Taken Away – Janesh s/o Rajkumar v Unknown Person (“CHEFPIERRE”) [2023] 3 SLR 1191 [case comment]

Ben Chester Cheong

[2023] SAL Prac 14

Seeking legal redress in respect of rights relating to non-fungible tokens (“NFTs”) that have been wrongfully taken away from a victim poses a multitude of problems, in part due to the underlying nature of blockchain technology. Two of these characteristics are decentralisation and anonymity which make it difficult to ascertain the perpetrator who typically goes by a pseudonym. Furthermore, this is exacerbated by doctrinal issues such as whether NFTs can give rise to property rights capable of legal protection as well as the various terms and conditions adopted by different NFT platforms which attach to the NFTs. The Singapore High Court (General Division) had to deal with interlocutory injunction applications to recover NFTs and cryptocurrency assets that have been wrongfully taken away from victims in CLM v CLN [2022] 5 SLR 273 and Janesh s/o Rajkumar v Unknown Person (“CHEFPIERRE”) [2023] 3 SLR 1191. Apart from a case summary of the latter case, this article seeks to highlight some of the doctrinal issues that can arise where the protection of NFTs is concerned, as well as some of the forum conveniens and enforcement issues associated with recovering NFTs that have been wrongfully taken away.