In a feature on the challenges posed by cryptoassets to law enforcers battling against fraud the Law Society Gazette has mentioned the landmark cryptocurrency case Robertson v Persons Unknown, which was led by Marc Jones, a partner in our Cybersecurity team. Elaina Bailes and Pia Mithani, two of our specialist fraud lawyers are also noted for their work in setting up a forum in which leading fraud practitioners of the future can connect to share knowledge and forge networks across multiple jurisdictions


The article, Picking up the traces, states:

“Frauds involving cryptocurrencies are now valued in the billions. While the courts are discomfited by the technology and the involvement of pseudonymous or anonymous defendants, they are willing to use the flexibility of common law tools to recover assets. That said, a litigator faced with cryptocurrencies, a bank account and a house will go for the bank account and the house first. For all that cryptocurrencies and blockchain have set the courts a demanding intellectual problem, the key issues in a civil claim remain the interplay with criminal law, problems with disclosure and the cost of pursuing assets. And moving ever more quickly is paramount.”


Marc Jones is mentioned in the article as leading the landmark Robertson case as follows:

“Relying on that authority, Marc Jones, who leads the cybersecurity team at Stewarts, obtained an asset preservation order (APO) for bitcoin worth more than £1m stolen in a personally targeted ‘spear phishing’ attack and transferred to a digital wallet held by the UK arm of the San-Francisco-based digital currency exchange Coinbase.

“The judge, Mrs Justice Moulder, had strong reservations about granting a freezing order: ‘We know nothing about this person who perpetrated the fraud. We do not know his identity. We do not know his assets. We do not know if a freezing order would achieve anything whatsoever.’

“However, she found that an APO was an option because the court only needed to be satisfied that there was a serious issue to be tried concerning a proprietary claim.

“For Jones, last August’s interlocutory decision in Robertson v Persons Unknown, marked the start of the English courts grappling with a new asset class that ‘is not going away’, opening the door to an effective remedy where a traditional freezing order may not be feasible.”

Elaina Bailes and Pia Mithani are also mentioned in the article for their work in setting up ACROSS, a network for practitioners. Its purpose is to provide a forum in which leading fraud practitioners of the future in the areas of civil fraud, asset recovery, bribery and corruption, and financial crime can connect to discuss their experiences, share their knowledge and forge networks. Its members’ work spans multiple jurisdictions, practice areas and disciplines, and provides an invaluable opportunity to engage and collaborate with each other.


The article, published by the Law Society Gazette on 13 January 2020, can be read in full here.



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