We use cookies to collect and analyse information on site performance and usage to improve and customise your experience, where applicable. View our Cookies Policy. Click Accept and continue to use our website or Manage to review and update your preferences.

Courts granting more NPOs in crypto cases

01 Aug 2023 / technology Print

Courts granting more NPOs in crypto cases

Lawyers at Dillon Eustace say that the Irish courts are increasingly adapting traditional legal remedies to assist holders of crypto-currency who are seeking to recover alleged stolen assets.

The lawyers highlight the High Court’s granting of Norwich Pharmacal Orders (NPOs) in two such cases recently.

An NPO is a type of discovery or disclosure order that compels a respondent to disclose certain information to an applicant.

In a note on the firm’s website, the Dillon Eustace lawyers describe it as “an equitable remedy” that is often sought against an innocent third party who possesses information about the identity of an anonymous wrongdoer.

“There is an onus on the party seeking an NPO to make out a strong prima facie case of wrongful activity, but certainty or a high degree of certainty is not required,” the lawyers write.


The two High Court cases referred to by Dillon Eustace were Williams v Coinbase Europe Ltd and Stanbury v Coinbase Europe Ltd.

In both cases, the plaintiffs used specialist cryptographic tracing firms to trace some of their stolen bitcoin to accounts held by unknown people with an Irish-registered company called Coinbase Europe Ltd.

While Coinbase did not object to the plaintiffs’ applications, its position was that, due to its obligations under contract and data-protection laws, it could not provide the information sought unless it was ordered by a court to do so.


NPOs were, therefore, sought to compel Coinbase to provide information that would assist in identifying the unknown account holders.

In each case, the Irish High Court ordered Coinbase to disclose to the plaintiffs, within five days, all information in its possession that would identify or assist in identifying the person(s) who owned or had access to the relevant accounts.

Dillon Eustace concludes that the use of NPOs “is further evidence of the willingness of the Irish courts to adapt traditional remedies and apply them to new technologies”.

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland