Blockchain technology means more than bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. By leveraging blockchain’s characteristics various use cases in different sectors will be implemented and will fundamentally change how business is conducted in future. In the following blog article the legal sector is analyzed and blockchain use cases are described.
Why blockchain in the legal sector?
1. Blockchain builds trust between parties which usually would not trust themselves.
2. Blockchain guarantees an immutable record of data and transactions.
3. These data and transactions are shared with every participant in the decentralized network and are therefore completely transparent.
All of these characteristics perfectly fit the requirements of the legal sector.
A. Chain of Custody
With an immutable record of finalized contracts and time-stamped signatures, there is less room for discussion. Blockchain-based records are admissible as evidence – at least for the court in Vermont. For further information have a look at here. Also in the United States, Arizona also enacted a law in 2017 that acknowledges the legality of signatures and contracts secured on blockchain. The IT-company Blocknotary with its headquarter in the US offers a blockchain-based service to time-stamp any digital file in order to proof ownership, existence and integrity at a certain place and time.
B. Property Rights
Blockchain acts as an immutable public ledger similar to e.g. land registry. Chromway is currently piloting a blockchain-based property purchase. Here’s another example of transferring property rights on blockchain. Andy Warhol’s “14 Small Electric Chairs” painting was sold to qualifies participants on Maecenas – an art investing platform built on the blockchain. The auction attracted more than 800 sign-ups within few weeks and was exceeding the expected number. Read more on https://coinjournal.net/andy-warhol-painting-tokenised-and-sold-on-the-blockchain-opens-access-to-art/.
C. Smart (legal) Contracts
Ethereum (ETH) is the first well-known project worldwide to implement smart contracts technology. To put it simple: The contract consists of source code with various “if…, then…” statements: If event X occurs, perform action Y.
Basically, every written contract can be implemented as smart contract. The smart contracts are distributed to all network participants and can’t be altered against the will of the contracting parties.
The Accord Project Consortium took the idea of smart contracts and introduced it to the legal sector. The consortium released the first working prototype for Ergo – a new domain specific language for smart LEGAL contracts. Ergo is designed to capture the operational details of legal contracts and “supports contracts and clauses as first-class elements of the language allowing lawyers and developers to quickly, easily and safely develop and verify the operation of computable legal contracts” says the group. Also, writing in Ergo means that the contract is not tied to a specific blockchain/distributed ledger technology (DLG).