The cryptocurrency world is gearing up for a major legal showdown as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) prepares to face Coinbase in court. The decision hearing on Coinbase’s petition is planned to be held on Wednesday, January 17.
The case has drawn comparisons to the SEC’s long legal battle with Ripple and raised questions about whether we are on the verge of another lengthy court proceeding. More details will emerge following Wednesday’s hearing.
The hearing has four potential outcomes, each with its own unique implications:
Scenario 1: Judge rejects Coinbase’s request
The SEC faces a relatively low hurdle to win. All they have to do is show that they are claiming facts that make their claims plausible. If the judge denies Coinbase’s request, the case will continue discovery for a year or more pending motions for summary judgment, similar to the Ripple case.
Scenario 2: Judge grants Coinbase request “prejudgment”
This result would mean that the entire case would be dismissed at the District Court level. The SEC will then have the option to appeal to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
Scenario 3: Judge accepts case “without prejudice”
In this scenario, the SEC will have the opportunity to amend the complaint to address the deficiencies noted by the judge. However, if the court decides that the SEC does not have authority from Congress to regulate cryptocurrency exchanges, there would be no point in allowing the change.
Scenario 4: Judge grants motion regarding specific claims
The judge may grant the request in respect of claims related to 13 cryptocurrencies, but reject it in respect of the staking service. The case will then move into the discovery phase, which focuses solely on the staking service and whether it qualifies as an investment contract.
Although it is unlikely that the judge will make a decision at this hearing, it is possible that the way he asks questions may provide some clues about the potential outcome.
*This is not investment advice.