The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) court have launched the Court of the Blockchain project in partnership with Smart Dubai according to a statement this Monday.
“The partnership is the first step in creating a blockchain-powered future for the judiciary which will have far-reaching benefits, including streamlining the judicial process, removing document duplications, and driving greater efficiencies across the entire legal ecosystem,” they say.
How exactly they plan to do any of this is not revealed with details very sparse, but DIFC says they are looking at how blockchain tech can be utilized for court orders verification to facilitate cross border enforcements.
They further plan to model smart contracts so that they can allow for various exceptions with the aim of encoding regulations and contract terms within smart contracts.
“This taskforce is in line with our guiding principle to deliver courts as a service, powered by technology and extended through cooperation agreements and alliances,” Amna Al Owais, Chief Executive & Registrar, DIFC Courts, says before adding:
“By harnessing blockchain technology, Dubai will be firmly positioned at the forefront of legaltech and judicial innovation, setting the standards for countries and judiciaries to follow.”
This is the very first project of its kind as far as we are aware, and on the surface it sounds very ambitious. Not, however, fantastically so.
Allowing for exceptions, for example, might sound like a contradiction where immutable blockchains are concerned, but ethereum based smart contracts are Turing complete. That means you can code in them whatever you want, including exceptions.
A smart contract can, for example, say that a certain key over-rules certain smart contract rules, but keeping that key secure is a different matter as the Bancor hack showed just recently.
Entering judgments on the blockchain is an interesting idea if it is designed impeccably for there are numerous considerations.
Courts are however usually generally paper based with considerable inefficiency, so digitization and blockchenization may assist in reducing costs and in increasing efficiency so that cases do not take years to conclude.
“The Dubai Blockchain Strategy seeks to run 100% of applicable government transactions on Blockchain by 2020,” Dr Aisha Bint Butti Bin Bishr, Director General of the Smart Dubai Office said before adding:
“An invention of this calibre and potential requires an equally disruptive set of rules and an empowered institution to uphold them.”
A British think tank called for blockchenizing the legal system last year, but one of the oldest profession has seen little action towards that goal until now it appears in Dubai.
How the Court of the Blockchain will develop, thus, will probably be closely watched as there’s some considerable potential for blockchain’s utilization in areas where the authenticity and the immutability of documents, such as evidence or court orders, is very important.