Tom Montagu-Smith KC and Phil Hinks obtain committal order in crypto/commercial case

In September 2023, nChain (a blockchain technology service provider) terminated the appointment of its then CEO, Christen Ager-Hanssen.

Following his dismissal, Mr Ager-Hanssen began to publish nChain’s confidential information on the internet, including on X (formerly Twitter). Mr Justice Henshaw granted injunctions restraining Mr Ager-Hanssen from using or publishing nChain’s confidential information. By a second order, the same judge ordered Mr Ager-Hanssen to hand over access to his devices, email and storage facilities to an IT expert for the purposes of deleting nChain’s confidential information from them.

Mr Ager-Hanssen failed to comply with Mr Justice Henshaw’s second order. He also failed to comply with an order made by Mr Charles Hollander KC (sitting as a deputy judge) requiring him to identify the persons to whom he had disclosed nChain’s confidential information.

nChain applied to commit Mr Ager-Hanssen for contempt of Court.

In a judgment made on 3 May (with the approved judgment being handed down today), Mr Justice Jacobs found that Mr Ager-Hanssen’s breach of the orders mentioned above was proved to the criminal standard. He proceeded to commit Mr Ager-Hanssen to 10 months’ imprisonment.

Mr Ager-Hanssen did not appear at the hearing of the contempt application. Nonetheless, the judge was satisfied that Mr Ager-Hanssen had been properly served and that no reason had been advanced for his non-attendance (at [23]). Further, he gave permission to serve the committal order by alternative means, including by email and by direct message to Mr Ager-Hanssen’s account on X (formerly Twitter).

A copy of the judgment appears here.

Tom Montagu-Smith KC and Phil Hinks acted for nChain, instructed by Colin Hutton and Will Anderson of CMS.

Winner: UK Bar Awards 2023
The Lawyer Awards 2022: Chambers of the Year