The recent increase in the popularity of cryptocurrency has brought an inevitable uptick in crypto-related litigation. At the end of any such litigation, a successful plaintiff may win damages, in a judgment entered by the clerk of court. Typically, that judgment of damages is entered in U.S. dollars. But a party transacting in cryptocurrency may have reasons to not want a judgment in fiat currency. Can a New York court enter a judgment in cryptocurrency without converting it to U.S. dollars? The answer is far from clear.
Although there are a dearth of New York cases concerning judgments denominated in cryptocurrency, there is a more robust body of law—including a New York statute—concerning whether or not a judgment may be entered by a New York court in non-U.S. fiat currency. New York Jud. L. §27(a) provides that “judgments and accounts must be computed in dollars and cents.” And §27(b) states that “[i]n any case in which the cause of action is based upon an obligation denominated in a currency other than currency of the United States, a court shall render or enter a judgment or decree in the foreign currency of the underlying obligation. Such judgment or decree shall be converted into currency of the United States at the rate of exchange prevailing on the date of entry of the judgment or decree.”