Legal Dispute over Employment Status in the Cryptocurrency Industry: What Determines Precedent?

Dispute over Employment Status in the Cryptocurrency Trading Industry

The case of Santoro v Be Pay Australia Limited before the Fair Work Commission sheds light on the issue of employee classification in the context of new technologies. The decision issued on April 3, 2024, sets a significant precedent for employment relations in the cryptocurrency trading sector.

Dispute over Employment of a Director in a Cryptocurrency Trading Company

Robert Santoro, a director at Joinbte Pty Ltd, found himself at the center of a dispute regarding his alleged employment by Be Pay Australia Limited, a company engaged in trading the digital currency Barteos (BTE). Deputy President Dobson emphasized that the relationship between Santoro and Be Pay was a contentious matter, raising the question of the nature of this relationship – whether it was a standard employment relationship or simply a contract between companies.

Key Elements of the Analysis

The Fair Work Commission’s decision was based on a detailed analysis of the contract in question, issues in fulfilling duties, and discrepancies raised by Be Pay. A crucial matter was the correct classification of Santoro’s role – whether he was formally employed by Be Pay or acted as an independent contractor providing services.

Validity of Contractual Content in Business Relationships

Santoro argued for an employee status, citing directives stemming from the contract and resources provided by Be Pay. The decision underscored the importance of clearly formulated contractual terms over the practical aspects of the relationship between parties.

Evolving Employment Relations in New Industries

This case sheds light on the changing nature of employment relations in modern economic sectors, such as cryptocurrency trading. The Fair Work Commission’s decision confirmed the necessity of accurately distinguishing between employee and contractor statuses in the context of new business models.


The final decision to dismiss Santoro’s claim serves as a reminder of the significance of clear employment agreements and a full understanding of the legal consequences in business relationships. The Santoro v Be Pay Australia Limited case represents a significant step in defining the boundaries between an employee and a contractor in the dynamically growing cryptocurrency industry.