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See you in Court, Mr Avatar!

See you in Court, Mr Avatar!

Some remarks on a recent Singapore case

On 21 October 2022, the High Court of Singapore (Lee Seiu Kin J) issued a very interesting decision[1] regarding an application for an interim injunction regarding an NFT[2].

The substance matter of the dispute is very stimulating, but I want to focus my swift analysis on the procedural issues:

  1. Defendant is an unknown person (the Applicant knows only the pseudonym “Chefpierre” that the Defendant uses on its accounts on Twitter and Discord);
  2. How to serve the Statement of Claim and the Court Order to such a person.

The Singapore High Court took a very practical (and not formalistic) approach to make justice and to comply with the Ideal of “fair access to justice”[3].

Under Order 6 rule 5 (1) of the Rules of Court 2021, the claim must be in Form 8 which requires Defendant’s name and address[4] and Order 4 rule 1 states that a person can sue and be sued only in their own name, but for exceptions expressly provided for in Order 4 rr. 2-6.

The Singapore High Court vigorously stated that “As is made clear by O 3 r 1, the ROC 2021 is to be interpreted purposively, and the Court must seek to achieve the Ideals in all its orders and directions. To my mind, requiring strict compliance with the formality requirements of an originating application or claim may well restrict access to justice. As the present case has demonstrated, it is perfectly possible to have concluded a contract with someone else online, where both parties have concealed their true identities using pseudonyms. Should a claimant be barred from seeking interim relief, or bringing a claim, unless he is able to name the defendant, instead of using his pseudonym? I think not”[5].

Similarly, the Judge has authorized the Claimant to use the Twitter and Discord account of “Chefpierre” (as well as the message function in its cryptocurrency wallet) to serve the originating application and the Court Order. In doing so, Lee Seiu Kin J stressed that “In the present case, bearing in mind the Ideals set out in the ROC 2021, I was satisfied that leave should be given for substituted service out of jurisdiction. To find otherwise would be to deprive the claimant of the only practical manner of effecting service on the defendant”[6].

This practical approach is welcomed. Technology is improving day after day, and we have to face new challenges. Justice must be ductile and cannot wait for amendments to Acts and Rules. We must trust in the Judiciary, and we have to give Judges flexible tools to uphold justice, every day.


[1]Janesh s/o Rajkumar v Unknown person (“CHEFPIERRE”) [2022] SGHC 264.

[2] The “Bored Ape” NFT.

[3] Order 3 rule 1(2)(a) Rules of Court 2021.

[4] See Form 8, in Practice Directions 2021, p. 213.

[5] Janesh s/o Rajkumar v Unknown person (“CHEFPIERRE”) [2022] SGHC 264, at [38].

[6] Janesh s/o Rajkumar v Unknown person (“CHEFPIERRE”) [2022] SGHC 264, at [91].

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