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Author Topic: Bitcoin in France: first legal decision directly related to Bitcoin?  (Read 57345 times)
sje397
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September 05, 2011, 12:48:59 AM
 #61

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BitCoin would most likely not be considered money or currency under US law. US law can be extremely broad in application because of the doctrine of stare decisis. French law is based on civil or continental law which is even more code based and thus likely to be less broad in application.

There will need to be legislation written to define BitCoins but, at least in the US, this will be almost impossible to do if it is to pass Constitutional muster given doctrines such as void for vagueness under due process in contrast to ignorantia juris non excusat.

Did you draw a pentagram on the floor before that incantation? I hope the spirits agree.
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Big Time Coin
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September 05, 2011, 12:58:40 AM
 #62

Good luck Tux!  But get a second opinion.  If not from another attorney, you can find some wise old Japanese or French businessmen next time you're out at the club to ask this one question:  Is it a good idea to sue a bank I want to do further business with? Roll Eyes

But aren't you better off just dropping the whole suit at this point?  You already won and the bank is flaunting the ruling, so you got the decision you wanted, nothing bad has happened for all bitcoin, and you can walk away.  I mean, why spend all this money on lawyers and risk a bad precedent when you could, instead:

1) switch banks
and/or
2) switch nationality of bank
and/or
3) switch nationality of M* S* LLC or whatever weirdly named LLC you use to transfer money around.  Others have suggested Panama, but there are many fine choices.  France is most definitely not an offshore or private banking mecca.

You will probably spend less money that way, to the right kind of lawyers: corporate, transactional, tax, asset protection.  Not the "LET's SUE YOUR FAVORITE BANK" kind of lawyer.  Also protects you from more lawsuits/getting milked by your "Let's sue your bank AGAIN and AGAIN!" lawyers down the line.

This is not legal advice, it is just common sense.  We aren't ready to slay Goliath just yet.  Better to keep things as low key as possible while the adoption rate grows and strengthens the currency.

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ampirebus
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September 05, 2011, 01:01:48 AM
 #63

maybe we should just all chip in a donation fund for Mtgox legal representation and get MagicalTux the best representation money can buy... maybe even officially through mtgox's own website. I'm sure they have plenty of funds secured for adequate representation but why take chances

(im american, and here there is a saying "innocent until proven broke" , a jesting statement about how more often than not, whoever has the most money wins in court.)

Lastly, im left scratching my head here as to why MagicalTux is posting information on a pending legal matter on the internet. To my knowledge if you have any pending legal matters, you are not supposed to disclose information (ESPECIALLY NOT PUBLICLY!) And I would advise that because this case is so important to the future of bitcoin, its regulations and legality in general,

and that tux and mtgox stop posting information about whats going on in court. most notably his legal defense tactics...
MagicalTux
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September 05, 2011, 02:12:19 AM
 #64

Good luck Tux!  But get a second opinion.  If not from another attorney, you can find some wise old Japanese or French businessmen next time you're out at the club to ask this one question:  Is it a good idea to sue a bank I want to do further business with? Roll Eyes

But aren't you better off just dropping the whole suit at this point?  You already won and the bank is flaunting the ruling, so you got the decision you wanted, nothing bad has happened for all bitcoin, and you can walk away.  I mean, why spend all this money on lawyers and risk a bad precedent when you could, instead:

1) switch banks
and/or
2) switch nationality of bank
and/or
3) switch nationality of M* S* LLC or whatever weirdly named LLC you use to transfer money around.  Others have suggested Panama, but there are many fine choices.  France is most definitely not an offshore or private banking mecca.

You will probably spend less money that way, to the right kind of lawyers: corporate, transactional, tax, asset protection.  Not the "LET's SUE YOUR FAVORITE BANK" kind of lawyer.  Also protects you from more lawsuits/getting milked by your "Let's sue your bank AGAIN and AGAIN!" lawyers down the line.

This is not legal advice, it is just common sense.  We aren't ready to slay Goliath just yet.  Better to keep things as low key as possible while the adoption rate grows and strengthens the currency.

Things are a bit complex than that.

In France there are laws ("droit au compte") that says that any company or individual should be able to open a bank account. When CIC first closed our bank account, strangely, no bank in France wanted to open a bank account for us anymore (especially when we reached the bitcoin part of the explanation).
We then went to the National Bank ("Banque de France") and asked them to assign us a bank. The first bank refused, so the National Bank re-assigned us to CIC, which was not allowed to say no anymore.

Thing is they said no. We opened an emergency court case as not having a bank account is harmful for our business, the court said that the bank was indeed required to act as the law says, and not as it feels. Bank lost court case, opened account, appealed, lost appeal, closed account, got sued again, lost again, re-opened account.

Now, the bank is saying that its only reason for closing the bank account is because we have an activity similar to a bank without being registered as a bank, since we allow people to buy a virtual currency called "bitcoin".
The definition of "virtual currency" under French law do not match bitcoin at all, and the court generally agrees, while saying it is not able to make this kind of decision. On request of both us and the bank, a regular court (as opposed to emergency court) will have to decide if bitcoin is indeed a virtual currency or not.

For information we haven't spent one cent so far on this (the bank has been required to pay us however, each time they lost). Unlike USA, in France the one who wins a court case is the one who is following the law, not the one with more money.

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September 05, 2011, 02:36:51 AM
 #65



For information we haven't spent one cent so far on this (the bank has been required to pay us however, each time they lost). Unlike USA, in France the one who wins a court case is the one who is following the law, not the one with more money.

this is one of the things I missing to not leave in EU any more!!! GOOD GOD When will apply to US?!

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fcmatt
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September 05, 2011, 02:57:32 AM
 #66

Is having an account in France so citizens of that country can use mtgox?
Why not just avoid France all together?
Christian Pezza
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September 05, 2011, 03:24:45 AM
 #67

Why not just avoid France all together?
Because it's important to get things settle soon or later, if bank in France will "win" become a fact other banks in other EU states can do the same. We will stop the process of integration. BTC will succeed at the time any currency will be in Exchange. Bank it's a easy way to go. If you like to cut them off just think a global solution because this is what is about. At this point only a Western union will be the only way to integrate with BTC where is not very practical and trust worth it.

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Big Time Coin
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September 05, 2011, 03:32:35 AM
 #68

You know what Tux, you got me convinced that you are qualified to litigate this issue in France.  It would have been easy to ignore my concerns, especially when I came on strong and direct like I did.  But now that you have explained the situation a little more clearly it seems like you have it well in hand.

I would also recommend you get some research done for you about any French banks (preferably yours) holding accounts for businesses transacting in virtual goods like WoW Gold, Second Life stuff, Time codes for MMORPG games, micro transactions. 

Vivendi Universal is french, they own blizzard, blizzard runs WoW, that's billions of dollars in virtual goods.  One of which is a virtual currency.  Dofus comes to mind as well, that is distinctly french.  Anyway, if the bank holds accounts for these people, they should have to hold accounts for you as well, non?

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fcmatt
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September 05, 2011, 03:35:22 AM
 #69

Why not just avoid France all together?
Because it's important to get things settle soon or later, if bank in France will "win" become a fact other banks in other EU states can do the same. We will stop the process of integration. BTC will succeed at the time any currency will be in Exchange. Bank it's a easy way to go. If you like to cut them off just think a global solution because this is what is about. At this point only a Western union will be the only way to integrate with BTC where is not very practical and trust worth it.

Like another poster mentioned though, was choosing France as the first country to have this type of suit a wise choice
versus another country in th EU which might have been an easier place to bring a precedent?

Perhaps just skipping that bank/country and continuing business as it was might have been a better choice? As in let people
in France send money to some other country's bank if that is why they choose to bring a suit against a French bank. It just
seems like this was not needed at this point in time and may have been premature. Sure mtgox is not making as much money...
but this sounds like it has a chance to really screw them over if it back fires... and the community.
Christian Pezza
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September 05, 2011, 03:38:06 AM
 #70

You know what Tux, you got me convinced that you are qualified to litigate this issue in France.  It would have been easy to ignore my concerns, especially when I came on strong and direct like I did.  But now that you have explained the situation a little more clearly it seems like you have it well in hand.

I would also recommend you get some research done for you about any French banks (preferably yours) holding accounts for businesses transacting in virtual goods like WoW Gold, Second Life stuff, Time codes for MMORPG games, micro transactions. 

Vivendi Universal is french, they own blizzard, blizzard runs WoW, that's billions of dollars in virtual goods.  One of which is a virtual currency.  Dofus comes to mind as well, that is distinctly french.  Anyway, if the bank holds accounts for these people, they should have to hold accounts for you as well, non?
this is a awesome tip, plus WTF they care about they will make more money in any ways, because this is what about for them!

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Vladimir
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September 05, 2011, 04:06:00 AM
 #71

... WTF they care about they will make more money in any ways, because this is what about for them!

Could it be that French banks have decided that ignoring and laughing stages are over and it is time to move on to fighting Bitcoin?

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wolftaur
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September 05, 2011, 04:10:28 AM
 #72

Could it be that French banks have decided that ignoring and laughing stages are over and it is time to move on to fighting Bitcoin?

Probably. :/

"MOOOOOOOM! SOME MYTHICAL WOLFBEAST GUY IS MAKING FUN OF ME ON THE INTERNET!!!!"
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September 05, 2011, 04:11:30 AM
 #73

Lastly, im left scratching my head here as to why MagicalTux is posting information on a pending legal matter on the internet. To my knowledge if you have any pending legal matters, you are not supposed to disclose information (ESPECIALLY NOT PUBLICLY!) And I would advise that because this case is so important to the future of bitcoin, its regulations and legality in general,

and that tux and mtgox stop posting information about whats going on in court. most notably his legal defense tactics...

You are allowed to say just about anything you want about a matter before the court (unless you are a politician where that may be construed as influencing the court's decision). It is just generally not a good idea because anything you say in public can and will be used against you in court. If you are saying one thing, but your lawyers are agruing another, it may hurt your case.

INNAL, don't pretend to be one on TV.

PS: I brought up Canadian law because that is the only law I started reading from the perspective of a potential bitcoin user.

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freequant
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September 05, 2011, 04:47:26 AM
 #74

We challenged this decision in court, to which the bank tried to defend itself by saying "Bitcoin is an electronic money, Macaraja is not a bank, therefore it's illegal for Macaraja to be handling this". The court replied that it was not up to the bank to decide this, and ordered the bank to re-open the account.

The bank announced us they would close the account again, and did an appeal. They lost their appeal but closed the account anyway.

We have then brought them once again in front of a court, which this time again decided against the bank.

Court decision (in French): http://demo.ovh.com/en/ec220dc8ec6778a9455fa7c77c991224/

Dragging a bank to court over a Bitcoin related case, and winning twice in a row...
Magical Tux, you and MtGox just went way up in my esteem.
I am getting tired to see people whining about all sorts of things, but not taking any real actions when they get scammed or abused.
Bitcoin needs more companies and people like you, ready to fight with the establishment to defend your business.
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September 05, 2011, 05:01:55 AM
 #75

The only relevant laws are the those of the physical universe.

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September 05, 2011, 05:16:48 AM
 #76

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.

Good Luck!

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September 05, 2011, 05:37:18 AM
 #77

I think if bitcoin is to survive its value needs to be dictated by something other than fiat currency.

Why cant we base its value on the supply of orange juice? or maybe tuna fish?

Anything to keep the gooberment out of it.

I have noticed here in the US, communities that use the Time Dollars system are generally left alone.

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September 05, 2011, 05:48:55 AM
 #78

The point of my comment was that I don't believe the issue to be as bad as MagicalTux implied. There are solutions to open an exchange other than become a bank. There are also other countries other than France in the SEPA zone. Even Romania, why not? Smiley

It really depends what the exchange is doing. The nature of the BTC exchanges is to received deposits and manage funds. The exchange houses you are thinking of do not do the same thing, it is just a walk in and out exchange. Taking deposits is regulated, not as a bank, but as a financial institution (same applies to all sorts of bodies that handle financial transactions).
Big Time Coin
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September 05, 2011, 05:51:42 AM
 #79

Thinking more about whether Tux  is the most qualified frenchman to be the plaintiff in this suit.  And why he may be qualified to represent the bitcoin community well, (big) IF he doesn't screw it up.

1) Has more money invested in bitcoin than any other frenchman.
2) Is trusted (via his company mtgox) with more other people's money in dollars and bitcoins than any other user of this forum.
3) Has communicated with us in this thread about the ongoing litigation.

It makes sense that the part-owner of the biggest fiat to bitcoin exchange is going to have to deal with the first legal problems that crop up, since that is where the proverbial rubber meets the road.  It's worrisome to think about what happens to the proverbial rubber.

Over the years, it seems that legal questions about banking regulations are going to be center stage of the international legal drama that will inevitably unfold vis-a-vis bitcoin.  It doesn't really matter which country the exchange operates in, how many exchanges there are, or who is number one, so long as there are some functional exchanges somewhere.

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September 05, 2011, 06:42:16 AM
 #80

Over the years, it seems that legal questions about banking regulations are going to be center stage of the international legal drama that will inevitably unfold vis-a-vis bitcoin.  It doesn't really matter which country the exchange operates in, how many exchanges there are, or who is number one, so long as there are some functional exchanges somewhere.

IMHO the big decisions will all be made by the U.N.
We all know who controls the U.N.
And we all know who the U.N. controls

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