A group of researchers has devised a blockchain-based mechanism to perform legal functions in a so-called “digital court,” according to an April 6 announcement.
Professors Hitoshi Matsushima from the University of Tokyo, and Shunya Noda from the University of British Columbia, have been leading the project, which aims to settle legal disputes without the need for a “costly legal process.”
In the announcement, the University of Tokyo clarified that this would be an extension of existing ideas for smart contracts without a centralized administration.
A digital court’s advantages and challenges
The University says that the benefit of the system is that most stages occur away from the blockchain, which is only invoked to maintain records of the parties involved in the dispute.
Professor Matsushima provided additional details regarding the design of the blockchain-based mechanism:
“On suspected violation of some agreement, those involved post their opinions to this digital court. The court algorithmically aggregates the parties’ opinions and judges who violated their agreement. If the digital court judges that a party violated the agreement, the party is fined by withholding a deposit made during the initial agreement.”
However, they clarify that there is a key factor that they must face with this mechanism. The technology, according to the researchers, has received “bad press” due to its decentralized nature. In fact, they expressed concern that the digital court would be open to the same issue.
Responding to such concerns, Matsushima said the following:
“Blockchains in some ways are a double-edged sword. But this kind of system signals the dawn of a new economic paradigm that must be embraced and explored rather than feared and ignored.”
Prior example cases
This “digital court” mechanism is not new in the world. Cointelegraph reported on February 12 that Aragon Court had launched a decentralized online court.
At that time, the team behind the design of the system aimed to eliminate “traditional artificial barriers such as national jurisdictions or the borders of a single country” when it comes to mediating disputes.