South Africa: Who Bears Final Responsibility and Liability

The Reserve Bank has previously warned the public against cryptocurrency (it was mainly Bitcoin then) saying that such digital currencies have neither a legal status nor a regulatory framework. As such, transactions that involve them could pose several risks to the user including a lack of security guarantees and challenges of convertibility.

The Reserve Banks stated that it does not regulate virtual currencies and that using them was at the user’s own risk. You may not have recourse. Basically the authorities have distanced themselves, indicating that it is upon the individual to decide whether or not they want to use cryptocurrencies. So, if you choose to trade in Bitcoin, for example, do not run to the authorities seeking help if things go wrong.

However, this position is not cast in stone and it may still be possible to get legal recourse. The justice system may be persuaded to look at cases involving theft of cryptocurrency in the same way other digital assets are viewed. Or consider for instance that someone steals a casino token/chip from you before you cash it out – the courts would handle that. Likewise, if someone else is culpable for the loss of your Bitcoin, then you should be able to seek legal recourse.


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